| d e l o a d |
Planned rest is absolutely necessary to improve performance.
But before I explain why, let me tell you the story of how I learned this the hard way. My first year of playing college basketball I spent an insane amount of time training. It was quite normal for me to put in 3 to 5-hours of training each day combining conditioning, lifting, skill-work, and other various hard training sessions. I carried this schedule throughout the summer into the school year until pre-season conditioning where I would still put in extra work. I only allowed 1-day off to recover and repeated this 6 days weekly.
On my grind right?
Precisely, grinding up my joint and muscle tissue. By mid-season I had strained my right hamstring and a minor groin strain that lingered the entire season. Alongside multiple non-contact ankle sprains. My performance took a nosedive and I was never the same that season.
I do not particularly enjoy others going through this. Therefore, I will explain why planned downtime/deloads are essential for your recovery and continual success in training.
*Note: Beginning exercisers may not need such a week in their first training cycle since they should be developing baseline fitness. If they need it, by all means go for it but for the most part in my experience beginners are fine in the first 8-weeks.
What is a Deload?
Deloads are recovery periods within a training cycle when you decrease the training volume and intensity. For strength training purposes, the usual deload reduces the training volume by 40%-60% depending on the scenario.
To explain, training breaks down muscle tissue and joints. Our recovery methods (sleep, nutrition, rest) allows our bodies to recover and attack the next training session. Over a few weeks of repeated bouts, your body begins to accumulate fatigue and joints begin to feel worn. Chance of injury increase while feelings of training staleness occur. To offset these issues, deloads are implemented to offset the negative proponents of training.
Will I lose Strength?
No, there is a performance component of deloading. After imposed loads are consistently increased, your body is ready for the adaptation post recovery phase. Here is what it will look like
- Train hard (stimulus)
- Scale back training
- Adaptation and ready for more stimulus
The deload allows you the impart the training stimulus called supercompensation that allows you to continually get stronger, faster, sexier, whichever your goal may be as long as the load warrants this.
Well maybe not the sexier part, but hey we have to stay positive.
This can vary from program to program. If you have a coach who programs a deload at a specific time, then follow that deload since there is a planned reason for this. For the majority, common practice is to deload after three weeks of hard training with the recovery phase in the fourth week. With my clientele, I typically program recovery on the fourth or fifth week depending on their training consistency, volume, and intensity.
If you're not training more than 3-4 times weekly in a progressive overload program, deloading may not be for you. You have to put in hours at the job before you start cashing in vacation pay. However, the purpose of implementing a deload is to have the ability to recover from your training stimulus to be able to load more and increase your results. If you're hitting a plateau with your nutrition, training, and rest dialed in often times you may need a recovery deload to re-ignite your performance.