Posted 2 weeks ago

Are you using deloads to keep your progression going?

What is a deload?
A deload is simply a break from training or training with reduced volume over a short period of time, such as a week. The aim of a deload is to help reduce fatigue caused from weight training with a high intensity and let your CNS regroup.

How to tell if you need a deload?
There are many reasons why you might need to take a deload – below is a list of some tell-tale signs to watch out for:

  • Fatigue

Are you feeling run down, ill, sleepy, or like no amount of rest is helping you recover?

  • Progression has stalled

Is your logbook progression slowing down and/or are your lifts feeling heavier than usual?

  • Sleep

Have you noticed that your sleep is more broken, or that you aren’t waking up feeling as refreshed in the morning, or that you are just struggling to fall asleep?

  • Appetite

Have you noticed a change in appetite, such as a reduction I feelings of hunger, to the point where getting your meals in is hard?

  • Motivation to train

Are you finding that you aren’t as driven to actually go to the gym, or that during your sessions you just aren’t as focussed or determined to beat your log-book numbers?

If any of these signs are starting to show up, then it might indicate that you need a deload – not only to recover, but also to avoid the possibility of an injury!

How do you set up a deload?
Like I mentioned at the start, there are two standard approaches to deloading – on the one hand, you could continue to train but reduce the volume of your sessions but not the intensity; and on the other hand, you could pause training altogether.

Personally, I believe that the first option – continuing to train – is not as effective as the latter, as you will still be causing some degree of fatigue on the body, and as such, not maximising the body’s ability to recover.

Therefore, I tend to recommend my clients take time away from training. This could be anywhere between 3-7 days, depending on the person. In that time, you are looking to just relax, get the feet up, focus on recovery, and make sure you are in a parasympathetic (RELAXED) state as much as possible for as long as possible across the day.

In this time, I also advise clients to reduce their caffeine intake, consume their non-training day calories, remove all cardio, and simply focus on hitting a step target to keep some physical activity in, without it being strenuous. Remember, we want to be focusing on relaxing as much as possible!

Why are deloads very helpful?
Although I don’t think I have ever had a client enjoy a deload – I certainly know that I don’t!! – they are incredibly beneficial in the long run. Think about it like this: you can only place so much stress on an individual and on your body before it breaks! As such, if you are tactical with how you implement these pauses from training, you will prolong your long-term progression in the gym. On top of that, following a deload, you will see your logbook numbers fly, recovery will feel great, your stress levels will be lower, your body will be more receptive to changes, AND there will be more scope for progress. And who doesn’t want that?

Ally Burdge