How to Deload


This week presented the opportunity for me to tan a bit and “deload” while spending time with my family under the sun 🙂

tumblr_lkhs7c8G6R1qe1yxzo1_500For those who are not familiar with the term, a “deload” is the voluntary decreasing of the intensity of one’s training (which is usually lasts a week, a cycle or a split in a person’s routine). The goal of a deload is to give the body time to recuperate and get rid of accumulated fatigue, giving a person a fresh start and allowing them to improve their gains in the long run. It’s important to note that strength training not only uses your muscles, but also your joints, ligaments, tissues, etc…. in other words, a lot must be managed and taken care of.

Why deload?

  • To optimize your future gains
  • To reduce the risk of over-training
  • To take a break
  • To allow your central nervous system to recuperate
  • To allow your joints, ligaments and other tissues to repair themselves

With time, you will realize that you cannot give 100% at each training session, it’s simply impossible for the body to maintain an intense rhythm of training for too long (the same goes for the mind). If you push too hard, you risk over-training, injuring yourself, losing your concentration, slowing your progress or even giving up completely.

By regularly introducing deload sessions into your routine, you will find that your progression over time will be improved, that you experience less injury, and that your mental and physical fatigue will be reduced.

How to incorporate a deload session?

This will depend on your level of experience, and the intensity of your workouts. Your age, capacity to recover, program followed, and other factors may also be important to consider.

If you are a beginner, most likely your central nervous system will not be as affected as intermediate or advanced athletes. A monthly deload should be largely sufficient. If you are an elderly person, or if your capacity to recuperate is limited, then a deload after a few weeks of training is more  appropriate.

Simply incorporate a deload session based on your level, and the intensity of your workouts. For most people, a deload every 4-8 weeks is sufficient.

Here are a few signs you may need to deload: 

  • You feel tired, empty or experience other symptoms of over-training, such as irritability or trouble sleeping.
  • Your progression is slowing and your weight has stopped moving (remember to be objective here!)
  • You suffer form headaches, and persistent cramps/soreness.
  • You feel the need to workout regularly.

If you workout regularly, then you should know how to deload regularly as well. In fact, you should have completed a deload before finding yourself with these symptoms!

Not everyone can be Wolverine!
Not everyone can be Wolverine!

How to deload?

During a deload session, one voluntarily reduces the intensity of their workout for about a week. It’s up to you to manage this in a manner you find appropriate. It’s important to note that a deload is truly efficient if the reduction is of about 50% of your normal intensity. Here are a few examples of deload sessions:

Complete your workouts as usual (same amount of reps and sets) only reduce the weight used by 50 or 60%.

  • Use the same amount of weight during your workouts, but diminish the time of the sessions (by lowering reps and sets) by 50-60%.
  • Workout parts of your body you don’t usually solicit.
  • Lower the amount of weight used and work on perfecting your form.
  • Reduce the amount of resistance by replacing a few strength training sessions with cardio sessions.

…. etc. You can also combine these examples based on your personal desires; you just must assure that at the end of the deload, you have enough energy.  In my case, I prefer to reduce the weight used during my workouts in order to work on my form and try out new moves.

You also can, if you so desire, simply take a week off. If you have a vacation planned, for example, take this opportunity to consider it as your deload. This will allow you to remain in your routine while not having to try and secretly workout while the rest of your family is relaxing 🙂

It’s up to you now 🙂

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Discussion4 Comments

    • Hi Lion22x,
      usually I simply revert back to maintenance, or simply don’t bother with tracking my macronutrient intakes during this period.
      I just enjoy and rest.
      Simply avoid to over or under eat, both defeating this purpose.

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