As many of you have already found out, are group training classes are currently in ‘Deload Week’. This is a week in which we take the normal loads in lifting and cut them down significantly. Oftentimes, athletes get a feeling of being “lazy” during these training sessions, and some will skip the deload altogether, whether that means they’re skipping out on training or ignoring the programming and lifting what they normally would.
Deloading is an important, but often misunderstood concept. With the current climate around fitness to be super intense all the time, a lot of athletes/lifters/etc. think they’re being “soft” if they deload. You’re supposed to go hard eight days a week, right?! Of course not, that’s ridiculous (and impossible). If you look at the best lifters and their training plans, they all partake in deloading in one way or another. But why? What’s the point? Let’s take a look:
The main purpose of deloading is one thing: fatigue management. When we’re doing these big compound exercises, it’s tiring. Not just on the day of, but as we consistently build to heavier loads week by week, you’re compounding fatigue in the same muscle groups as well as your Central Nervous System over and over. This adds up over time and if not monitored can lead to burn out and/or injuries.
Think of any time you’ve gone to the gym and just didn’t have “it”. You were wiped out before even doing anything. Having a planned deload is a strategy to avoid having that fatigued feeling consistently. Yes, you will still have those super-fatigued days. With a properly planned deload they should just stay as a bad day, rather than a bad week/month/training cycle.
If you’d like to read more on fatigue, we suggest this article: https://www.jtsstrength.com/fatigue-explained/?v=7516fd43adaa
Rest vs. Deload
Often enough, people will just take some time off from the gym instead of going in for a deload session. I would advise against that. Coming in and performing your weightlifting at 50-65% of what you normally do is very beneficial. Technique can be worked on, any issues you’ve been having (tight back for example) can be alleviated with the extra stretching and rolling out we’ll have time to do, and performing your lifts will tell your body to send blood flow to the muscles we’re working. This ensures that the muscle receives the nutrients it needs to rebuild itself stronger than before, so keep your nutrition on point!
There are times that you should take a rest from the gym. Usually you want to do this if you’re starting to feel burned out, you’re going through a stressful time and the gym is only adding stress on top of it (think consistently missing lifts you know you can make), or you have something major going on in your life. Sometimes these rest periods can be as little as 2-3 days off, and others (usually when you’re butting up against burnout) can be a week or two.
Deloads are Boring
Sorry, but this is the truth of the matter. Deload weeks can be super dull, which is why a lot of people skip over them. You’re not going to be uploading your 50% back squat to social media to show off, but it’s this type of behind-the-scenes work most people don’t acknowledge that will lead to consistent gains in the gym.
Fortunately, we have conditioning we can focus on too! We’ll still keep the loads light in our metcons, and advocate for a more methodical pace than normal, but we can still focus here and leave the gym with a feeling of accomplishment.
All-in-all, deloads are an important part of training. They aren’t the flashiest part, but they will help keep you healthy and ensure you keep the gains coming. As always, if you have any questions about deloads, feel free to ask me when we see each other at the gym this week!