Deload training is essentially a period of reduced training frequency and intensity, often carried out over a 1-2 week period, during which training volume decreases and rest time increases to promote optimal recovery. Deload training has many physical and psychological benefits, and is an important part of a well-structured training program, especially for advanced athletes. Incorporation of deloads is dependent on training intensity/duration, level of training, and external stressors such as work and family life.
The main focus points of deload training include:
- Reducing inflammation
- Optimizing recovery
- Promoting strength increase and muscle retention/hypertrophy over the long-term
Deloading can also allow for a type of ‘supercompensation’. Taking a break from heavy weights, high volume, high intensity exercise will enable the body to respond more optimally when this type of training is re-introduced.
Typically programmed as 1-2 week deload periods every 4-12 weeks of regular training
It is beneficial to routinely schedule deloads, but they may be added in under various other circumstances, including but not limited to:
- After extended periods of consistent high intensity exercise
- **Post Comp-Prep** – deloading is ESSENTIAL post-comp, as the body is in an incredibly depleted, fatigued and over-exerted state. Deload training following contest prep is crucial to allow the body to recover in order to be able to return to a high-intensity training program where progress can be made
- Any time in a training program when progress stalls
- During times of high external stress or when the body has reached a state of high-fatigue and sub-optimal recovery
à if you’ve been pushing hard in the gym for months on end, it is almost inevitable that you will reach a point where the extent of physical exertion exceeds the body’s ability to recover effectively
Signs you need to deload:
- excessive muscle soreness
- increased fatigue/reduced energy during the day and while training
- poor sleep
- lack of motivation to train
Note that intermediate and advanced athletes will require deload training more frequently. Deloading is often not necessary for beginners, but may be done on an ‘as-needed’ basis. The more advanced the athlete, the more frequent deloads should be incorporated.
- Reduce training intensity and volume
- Reduce weight by 30-50%
- Reduce the total # of reps/sets
- Reduce total cardio time by 30-60%
- Incorporate additional rest days