I’ve been there. I’ve been the meathead wanting to go all out for weeks on end without looking back at taking a break and resting. Then a good buddy of mine at Central Missouri, my former training partner actually, told me we had to take a deload week. A deload week!?!?! Seriously? A week without gains, lifting heavy things, and working my tail off? Say it ain’t so! Yup, my inner meathead wasn’t happy, and I’ll admit, even to this day I don’t like to take a deload week, but there are a lot of great benefits to a proper deload week. Here’s how to get the best out of it.

 

The whole idea of a deload week is to back off your main lifts and workout every 4-6 weeks in order to recharge and revamp your training. Think of it as a planning period before you move on to a new workout program. Over a normal few weeks of a workout program you, hopefully, are working on the basis of progressive overload. Progressive overload is continually increasing your workout in intensity, volume, or resistance in order to create adequate amounts of stress to the body in order to create a physiological response. The body can only handle so much of a response though over time as the body tries to react to stress leading to plateaus and lack of physiological responses. Here enters the deload week. Deloading allows for the body to catch back up and recharge before on not only a cellular but also a mental level. The trick to a proper deload week is knowing the weights of your lifts in order to not lose out on all the hard work you’ve already done. The magic number here usually comes around 50-60% of 1 rep max for your major lifts. Somewhere around 50-60% will allow for adequate rest muscle and nervous system to recharge while also allowing a big enough stimulus to not lose the gains you’ve already made in strength and size. For any assistance exercises you can easily just bump back a bit. So lets say you’ve been doing 4 sets of 10 on curls at 30 lbs. Bump your self back to 2 or maybe 3 sets of 10-12 reps at 20lbs or so.

So how can you use the deload without feeling like you are wasting your time at the gym?

A deload week also adds in some great time to work on technique, mobility, and flexibility. Let’s face it, we could all use a bit of extra work on those big 3 and help increase your efficiency at the gym. Also use this week to refuel. Throughout hard workouts week after week we wear down a lot of the energy stores in the body. Unless you have a good nutrition plan and are getting adequate amounts of rest, you are most likely robbing your body of the substrates and energy stores you need in order to improve and get stronger. So use this time to load up on some carbs, fasts and proteins. Don’t gorge yourself or over do it, but catch back up a little on some of those macronutrients you’ve been using and prepare for another hard cycle of lifting. Then get in there and move some weight!