In very straightforward terms, a deload is a short planned period of recovery. You simply take your training slightly lighter, maybe workout a little less, and generally just ease things back. A typical deload period will usually lasts about a week. People often deload when they reach—and can't overcome—a persistent state of fatigue.
Now you might be thinking why Slow Down? I'm Doing Great! Many people think that taking the time to deload will shift their gains into reverse and ultimately put a stop to all progress, this is not true! Adding a deload will do you the world of good and propel you on to greater gym gains.
The most common method of deloading is to simply reduce the amount of weight you normally lift. As a guide, all your sets should be performed at around 40-60% of your 1RM. Just because you are reducing the amount of weight you are lifting doesn’t mean you should go hell for leather and bust out a ton of reps, instead keep your reps and sets low and just take it easy, thats the whole idea, give your body time to recover!
A less popular method of deloading is to keep your weights more or less the same, but greatly reduce your volume. For example if your regular training program requires you to perform five sets of five bench with 225lbs, you could stick at 225lbs and hit a couple of singles or doubles, or just go for one set of five reps.
A less popular yet extremely effective method of deloading is to simply change your exercise selection. This is of course harder to regulate, but definitely has its advantages. As an example, powerlifters perform the 3 big lifts, Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift, all three of these exercises require barbells, in order to deload from a powerlifting meet many powerlifters opt to mix up their training and train for a period of around four to six weeks without using any barbells in order to give themselves a break.
Another great method of deloading is individual lift deloads, people often incorporate individual lift deloads when one lift is suffering but the others are going great. As an example, say you just can’t get past a plateau on your squat but all of your other main and accessory lifts are increasing and you’re making great progress week on week. Try dropping the weight on your troublesome lift and instead focus on form and technique, hit a few easy sets and build up your confidence for about a week. Once you feel your technique is on point and you’re ready to get back to it then increase the weight.
Here are a few key signs to look out for as an indication of when you should implement a deload period:
In summary deload periods are essential, whether you are a powerlifter, sprinter, professional NFL player or just a bro that likes the gym, make sure you incorporate deload periods into your training, your body will thank you for it!
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