Art of the Deload
What is one of the biggest mistakes strength coaches, personal trainers, athletes and lifters make?
They never deload. In fact, they come in for weeks and weeks on end and train their asses off. That is good and bad.
Good in the fact that they are trying to build muscle, get stronger and get faster. They are trying to get more mobile, more explosive and get better for their sport(s).
With all of this training, you must build times into your program to recovery. And I’m not talking about a one recovery session. I am talking about a week long attention to getting your body ready for the next intense 3-4 week training block.
This is called a deload.
What is a Deload?
A deload is a series of sessions where you focus on all of the following and reduce multiple factors of intensity:
- SMR – soft-tissue work
- active recovery
- strength training form
- kinetic stability
- skill work
- review game footage
Factors of Intensity
When you’re in a deload week, you’ll want to lower the intensity of the session. This is what allows your body to recover, regenerate and become stronger for the next cycle.
Factors of Intensity include:
- rest periods
- load (weight lifted)
- speed of movement
- duration of total session
If you can schedule these series of training sessions after a 3-4 week, 6-8 week training block, you’ll be adhering to the Law of Supercompensation.
Law of Supercompensation
As you can see from the Law of Supercompensation and from this post , strength training has an effect on the body. It breaks it down and makes it weaker! This microtrauma and effect, after recovery and regeneration, creates an adaption; more strength and more muscle (if the right intensity and parameters are engaged).
Now, if the proper “amount” of rest and recovery strategies (SMR, good nutrition, stretching, massage, rest, etc.) are not employed or the next training session’s intensity is appropriate AND occurs at the right time after the last session, then the lifter / athlete does not fully recover to the baseline level prior to the training session. If this is repeated over and over this could lead to injury and over-training.
But, if there is appropriate rest and deloads are scheduled periodically, then a super compensation where the lifter / athlete recovers to a baseline GREATER than their previous level is achieved.
Signs You Need to Deload
- increase in resting heart rate
- weight feel “cold”
- you never get warmed up
- lifts are not improving
- eye sensitivity to light
- you’re dreading going into the gym
Simple Points to Follow
- Schedule deload weeks where 3-4 subsequent training sessions focus on recovery and factors above
- The more frequently you engage in deloads, the less you’ll need in a row, ie. if you deload every 8 weeks, your deload could be 3-4 sessions, if you deload every 4-5 weeks, you might only need 2-3 sessions, this is all part of auto-regulation
- Bodyweight exercises are great for these sessions
- Think of these sessions as preparation for the next intense sessions
- Make your deload sessions focused and short in duration. Get in and get out of the gym.
Perfect Workout Sequence for a Deload
- Dynamic Warm-up
- Workout and /or Conditioning
Rehab / Weakness
Simple Full Body, Bodyweight Deload Session
1c) Inverted Rows
1d) Light squats
1e) Face Pulls
1g) Resisted Forward Treadmill Walking*
1h) Resisted Backward Treadmill Walking
REPEAT 2-3 TIMES
* Cool trick – keep treadmill turned off, it becomes an instant simulated sled dragging session!