Deloading is such an important aspect of training and you are screwing it up.
Don’t worry, I’ll show you how to effectively deload regardless if you are powerlifting, bodybuilding, or simply training to stay healthy.
What is the purpose of deloading?
Deloading is important for your nervous system to recover from heavy lifting.
Your nervous system produces the power and can only take so much stress before it needs to take a break.
“There is no such thing as overtraining” says CT Fletcher, and I agree… but there is going to come a point where a deload is necessary if you want to make more progress.
I don’t believe in programmed deloads unless you are an advanced or elite lifter or peaking for a competition; I think you need to learn to listen to your body.
So how am I screwing up my deloads?
Well here is an example of how this is in no way a “deload” and more like a max effort attempt.
Note: I’m not being critical of how much he’s lifting or how his form breaks down other than the fact he says this is a deload.
Deloads are meant to give your nervous system a break and also give yourself some time to tweak your form and get it down.
Deloads should not be near maximal work, as a matter of fact I recommend working in the 50%-60% of your 1 rep max range.
So this means if you can deadlift 500 you should train in the 250 to 300 pound range with the same amount of volume, or less.
I don’t want to lose my gains…
Any advanced or elite lifter will tell you how important it is to deload, and how you actually get stronger from the break.
As a matter of fact, most powerlifters will run some form of peaking program and will take the week before the competition off from training so they are fully recovered.
I’ve never been stronger than after my peaking program where I went from 50% work 2 weeks out and the week before the show I didn’t train at all; trust me on this one.
How do I know when to take a deload?
Each person’s skill level in training will determine when they will need to take a deload.
Generally speaking, the more advanced of a lifter you are, the more you will have to deload… possibly going to the point of having scheduled deloads.
The best advice I can give is this:
Learn to listen to your body.
Listen to your body for signs of needing to deload. Note: I was about to say “overtraining” instead of “needing to deload” but I don’t want the terms to be confused.
Signs you need to deload:
- More than usual achy joints, muscles, connective tissue, etc.
- Multiple days of fatigue; some days just suck and you want to sleep all day.
- For beginners: You don’t need to deload, start working harder.
- For early intermediates: 3 consecutive weeks of missing your projected lifts.
- For advanced: If you don’t know when to deload, I am sorry.. I would recommend every 4th week.
- Getting sick: Flu-like symptoms, fever, etc. If you are to this point, you are going to need to take a longer break.
Signs you need to suck it up:
- You stayed out too late partying; get to the damn gym.
- You got smashed last night; grow up and get to the gym.
- It’s too cold out; bundle up, wuss.
- Anything weather related; Son, you disappoint.
- Not “feeling it”; go anyways.
- I’m tired; go drink a double dose of hyphy mud.
Deloading and “overtraining” are debated daily online and it is a touchy subject, but I’m obligated to help my readers and I am going to with the best of my ability.
Deloading is hard on the ego, but will pay off when you break PRs in the next weeks.
If you learn to listen to your body, you can adjust your training accordingly.
This isn’t giving you a free pass to grind out some heavy squats just because you yawned in the gym though.
If you put training videos up online, don’t label them deloads when they are near your max weight just to act like a badass; lifters with some time under their belt see right through it.
Chat with me on Twitter @CuttyStrength and be sure to share this to your buddies. If they are hitting plateau after plateau, it might be because they need to deload.