The Deload Week: What Is Deloading and How to Do it
November 02, 2020
Many bodybuilders and professional athletes swear by the deload week, reporting that they’re incredibly useful – if not essential – to their success.
Many other bodybuilders and athletes, especially new or aspiring ones, aren’t sure what a deloading workout is, or how it could be useful.
In this article, we’re going to explain all about the deload week and how to deload so you can decide for yourself whether or not it’s something that you want to include in your workout routine.
What is a deload week?
When you’re working out all the time, it’s easy enough to dedicate all your time and energy to maximize your output in the gym. Lifting heavier weights, doing more sets, and killing it in the gym is usually the main focus for people who want to get bigger and stronger.
Unfortunately, most people find that they can only smash their workouts for so long before they fall flat and reach a plateau. No matter how hard they push themselves, they can’t seem to improve their numbers, boost their muscle growth, or increase their training volume.
Many guys building muscle have found that the one thing which can help them through their plateau is deload weeks. A deload week is a week to reduce the strain that you’re putting on your body by relaxing and not pushing yourself as hard as you usually do.
This might sound contradictory, but it’s pretty important for anyone who wants to make the most out of their workouts. The body is adaptable, but it’s not meant to be constantly pushed to extremes. Giving it a week to recuperate is important if you want to see how far you can push your limits.
Why you should add deloading to your training
A deload week is a week in which you plan to let your body relax.
Think of it like a drawn-out weekend after a stressful week. If someone works a difficult job, they need the weekend to unwind. If they don’t get that weekend, the stress will just keep building up, and eventually, they’ll snap and go crazy.
The body is the same way, except rather than snapping and going crazy, it’ll just plateau. Once you’ve reached a certain peak, you’re going to have a hard time going beyond that peak if you don’t give your body time to relax. Your body needs to deload.
Deloading doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding the gym altogether. It’s more of a carefully planned chance to help reduce the amount of strain on your body so it can maximize its
The main idea behind deloading is that it’ll help prevent you from getting an injury and also that it’ll help you get the most out of your body. Deload weeks encourage your body to really get back to a state of base-line health, rather than constantly pushing it into overdrive.
A deload week is also great for your mental health, even though you might not be aware of it. Bodybuilding is incredibly stressful for your nervous system, which can translate into symptoms of mental stress like anxiety or irritability.
Most bodybuilders aren’t aware of these symptoms until they take the time to rest.
Deload can be difficult for some people who are used to having some sort of aggressive physical activity to keep them occupied. However, this can also be important for your mental health.
Learning to simply enjoy being where you’re at instead of striving to achieve something – even if it’s just for a week – can help you become more comfortable with who you are.
There are a few specific indications that you might want to add a deload week to your workout routine.
- If you’re getting weaker. If you’re noticing that you’re getting weaker, despite following the same routine, it might be time for you to do a deload week. This might go against your first instinct, which is probably to push yourself even harder. Regardless, this could indicate that you’re starting to go into overreach and that your body is starting to max out. Deload weeks are the best way to prevent this.
- If your joints are getting sore. A bit of pain here and there is pretty standard for anyone who’s pumping hundreds of pounds of iron regularly. However, if you’re noticing that your wrists, knees, or other body parts are constantly hurting, then it’s time to deload. Joint aches aren’t going to get better if you keep working out. Trust me, try a deload week if you start to feel joint pains.
- After an event. If you’ve just finished a weightlifting or bodybuilding event, it’s time for a deload week. Give your body a break. It’ll thank you for it.
How to do a deload week
Ok, so how to deload? Well, there are a few different ways that you can do a deload week. There are three main types, which are as follows.
A good way to enjoy the benefits of deload week is to switch between these different styles of deloads. It’s also important to note that different styles of deload can be useful for different people, for example, a reduced volume deload would be good for people who are planning to engage in competition shortly after.
Reduced Load or Intensity
When you’re doing a reduced-load deload week, you can keep the volume of your reps the same. Instead, you decrease the load to somewhere between 40-60% of your 1 rep max.
This is a great type of deload for people who aren’t necessarily going to compete. If you’re just hoping to perform as well as you can but you’re not competing, reduced load deloads are great.
In reduced volume deload weeks, instead of reducing the weight, you’ll be reducing the total number of sets by about half.
This is a great deload week for competitive people, especially those who are soon to be competing. It’ll help to ensure that your post-deload performance is at an optimum level.
Changing the type of exercise that you do is another form of deloading. This is possibly the most holistic form of deloading in the sense that it allows you to work out other areas of your body that you might usually neglect.
You’ll also be able to give it your all during these kinds of deload weeks. But you’ll still be giving your body a rest in the sense that you won’t be working out the same areas that you regularly do.
Naturally, there are some pros and cons to this.
The main pro is that you’ll still be able to enjoy a full-body workout even during your deload weeks. Some people feel unsatisfied during deload weeks because they’re not able to max out like they usually do.
On the other hand, you haven’t deloaded if you still give your body a workout. While you might be avoiding strain and muscle damage on certain muscle groups, working out is still working out.
Any type of exercise causes hormone cascades, gets your heart pumping, and affects your entire body. If you’re pushing yourself to the max, there’s no way to avoid fatigue in the long-run.
Nevertheless, this type of deload is great for people who aren’t professionals, or for athletes who aren’t going to be competing anytime soon.
Deload week workout examples
There are lots of different ways that you can do a deload week. Ultimately it’s going to depend on your regular workout routine and what you’re hoping to achieve.
Here is a popular example of a deload week workout. Each workout is done on a different day.
Workout 1 (e.g. Monday) – Pull
- Barbell Deadlift: 2 sets/3 reps with last hard-set weight
- Barbell Row: 2 sets/3 reps with last hard-set weight
- Lat Pulldown (Wide-Grip): 2 sets/3 reps with last hard-set weight
Workout 2 (e.g. Wednesday) – Legs
- Barbell Squat: 2 sets/3 reps with last hard-set weight
- Leg Press: 2 sets/3 reps with last hard-set weight
- Lying Leg Curl: 2 sets/3 reps with last hard-set weight
Workout 3 (e.g. Friday) – Push
- Barbell bench press: 2 sets/3 reps with last hard-set weight
- Incline Barbell Bench Press: 2 sets/3 reps with last hard-set weight
- Dumbbell Bench Press: 2 sets/3 reps with last hard-set weight
Deload weeks are important for anyone who wants to get the most out of their workouts. Giving your body time to relax and recuperate – or, at least not pushing it so hard – is important if you want to see how strong you can become.
This article should have explained the importance of deload. While you might not want to use the specific workout example provided, it’s still a great choice for anyone who wants to learn how to do a good deload workout.