Deload; What, When, Why, How?
Achieving your health and fitness goal will requires a lot of hard work,
but there comes a time when less is more.
I introduce to you, deloads.
What Is A Deload?
A deload is a planned period of time where your overall training volume and/or intensity is reduced to allow for not only physical (joints, tendons, muscles) but also mental recovery following an intensified block or time period of training.
When Should You Deload?
As mentioned above, a deload is usually implemented after an intense period or block of training that puts a significant amount of stress on the body and also the mind. It can be extremely beneficial for athletes during certain parts of their training, in and out of season.
Some signs that it’s time for a deload may include:
-Poor sleeping patterns
-Loss of appetite
-Increased muscle tightness and sore tendons and/or joints
-Lack of motivation and drive to train
How To Deload
When it comes to deloading there are a few different ways that it can be done.
The most common and simple way of deloading is to reduce your working weight on each exercise by anywhere from 10-40%, keeping the sets and reps the same. This is very dependent on your training level but also how badly you need to recover.
Example: If you usually do 3 x 12 @ 100kg and you decide to reduce the load by 20%, you will now do 3 x 12 @ 80kg for your deload session.
Another option is to simply drop a set from every exercise; this will dramatically decrease the overall volume but still allow you to train at a high intensity, as working weight will stay the same as the previous session.
Example: If you usually do 4 x 8 @ 120kg on squats, then you would do 3 x 8 @ 120kg for your deload.
The last way, and this is for someone who is in desperate need of not only a physical, but mental break (also is most likely not in preparation for a competition or sporting match in the near future), is to take a week of complete rest and take part in some form of light active recovery.
Example: Instead of doing your usual 5 day strength and conditioning program you might play a game of pick up basketball with friends, play a round of golf or do some walking etc. Anything that isn’t going to put your body under too much stress.
Deloads are a perfect way to give your body the time it needs to recover, while still providing enough stimulus to the muscles that you will maintain, and in most cases improve performance in the training block that follows. A deload can also be beneficial for a mental break, helping re-ignite that fire inside and increase your motivation if you ever find yourself stuck in a bit of a rut.