What is a Deload?
A deload is a week of training in which you take a planned or intentional break from your typical training regimen.
It is NOT the same as taking a complete week off from the gym where you just lay on the couch all day and night eating bon-bons and binging the latest drivel on Netflix.
A deload is just what it sounds like -- a reduction of total training load/stress that typically lasts seven days.
Why You Should Deload
Intense training taxes your muscles, joints, ligaments, bones, and nervous system. The longer you’re in the iron game, the more demanding your training becomes. Eventually, the mind and body need structured rest and recovery to mend these microtears that accumulate over the weeks and months of training.
Deloads also help reduce the potential for strains, sprains, and overuse injuries. Over the long term, this allows you to complete more training sessions, meaning more gains in size, strength, and badass-ness.
Taking a structured break from training also allows you to mentally recharge so that when you do come back to your killer training schedule, you can meet it with the mental and testicular fortitude required to make gains.
How to Include a Deload in Your Training Program
Deloads can either be:
- Proactive: planned deload protocols where you lessen your training volume/intensity (such as the “3 on/ 1 off” or “6 on/1off” protocol).
- Reactive: deloads taken in response to drop-offs in performance and/or sprains or injury.
There are a number of ways you can implement a deload in your program, including:
- Reducing weight
- Reducing volume
- Reducing RPE (how close you take each set to failure)
- Changing exercises
You can use one, two, or any combination of these deload techniques. Which one(s) you choose will depend on your preferences and demands of your training schedule.