02 Nov Benefits of a Deload week
Plain and simple, a deload is a short planned period of recovery. You take your training slightly lighter, maybe workout a little less, and generally just ease things back. A typical deload will last a week.
To the uninitiated outsider, deloads seem like a waste of time or an excuse to sit on your butt for a week, watching TV instead of hitting the gym and shifting some heavy lumps of iron.
Not so fast.
What if deloads could actually be just what your workouts need? The secret ingredient to take your training from good to awesome. Feeling banged up, demotivated, or stuck in a training plateau? Adding a deload will do you the world of good and propel you on to greater gym gains.
The most common method of deloading is just to reduce your weights. As a guide, all your sets should be performed at around 40-60% of your 1RM. This doesn’t mean you go hell for leather and bust out a heap of reps either. The loads are light and the reps and sets are low. That’s the whole idea of a deload – you just gotta relax and take it easy.
A less popular option is to keep your weights more or less the same, but greatly reduce your volume. Say for instance your regular training program calls for five sets of five squats with 100kg. Under a normal deload, you’d probably do your five sets of five at around 40/50kg. With a volume deload though, you could stick at 100kg and hit a couple of singles or doubles, or just go for one set of five reps.
This approach does work better for some people. Particularly competitive strength athletes who find performance suffers when they don’t have a heavy load on their back or in their hands week in, week out.
A more obscure, though equally effective way to deload is to change your exercise selection. This is harder to regulate but definitely has its advantages. As an example, Dave Tate advises taking four to six weeks after a powerlifting meet where you perform no barbell exercises whatsoever. This might sound a little extreme, but it can be particularly beneficial to do this after a long period of intense and heavy training, or after a competition, just to give your body a break.
Finally, individual lift deloads work a treat when one lift is suffering, but the others are going along great guns. Say for example you just can’t get past a plateau on your squat, but all your other main and accessory lifts are increasing week on week and you’re feeling great. Taking a week off everything would be counterproductive, so just drop the weight on your troublesome lift, hit a few easy sets a couple of times and work on nailing your form and technique.
Don’t forget to look at your sleep patterns, water intake and most of all your nutrition. This is where we repair and fuel our bodies. If we aren’t providing the body with adequate nutrition how can we expect it to function well? We recommend whole foods, fruit and vegetables and basic fat sources which are combined in meals to give you the best outcome possible.