Deloading by Coach Mario
For those of you who read my previous post, you would have seen me mention things like getting enough rest or adding in a deload week within one of my tips. Now, for most this is a term that you may never have heard before, so what I have done is put together a small blog on Deloading Simplified…
What the Heck is a Deload?
Plain and simple, a deload is a short planned period of recovery. You take your training slightly lighter, maybe workout a little less, and generally just ease things back. A typical deload will last a week. To the newbie, deloads seem like a waste of time, or an excuse to sit on your butt for a week, watching TV instead of hitting the gym and shifting some heavy weights.
Not so fast.
What if deloads could actually be just what your workouts need? The secret ingredient to take your training from good to awesome. Feeling banged up, demotivated, or stuck in a training plateau? Adding a deload will do you the world of good and propel you on to greater performance gains.
How Do I Deload?
The most common method of deloading is just to reduce your weights. As a guide, all your sets should be performed at around 40-60% of your 1RM. This doesn’t mean you go hell for leather and bust out a ton of reps either. The loads are light and the reps and sets are low. That’s the whole idea of a deload – you just gotta chill and take it easy.
A less popular option is to keep your weights more or less the same, but greatly reduce your volume. Say for instance your regular training program calls for five sets of five squats with 100kg, under a normal deload, you’d probably do your five sets of five at around 50 to 55kg. With a volume deload though, you could stick at 100kg and hit a couple of singles or doubles, or
just go for one set of five reps. This approach does work better for some people. Particularly competitive strength athletes who find their performance suffers when they don’t have a heavy load on their back or in their hands week in, week out.
Finally, individual lift deloads work a treat when one lift is suffering, but the others are going great. Say for example you just can’t get past a plateau on your squat, but all your other main and accessory lifts are increasing week on week and you’re feeling great. Taking a week off everything would be counterproductive, so just drop the weight on your troublesome lift, hit a few easy sets a couple of times and work on nailing your form and technique.
When to Deload
First things first, if you’re following a pre-designed program, you deload when you’re told to. There’s no point following the weight, set, rep and exercise guidelines laid down by the program you’re performing if you’re ignoring all the advice on deloading.
Although the above does not help the majority of the Box as we program for everybody, there are a few key signs to look out for as an indication of when you should implement a deload:
Getting Weaker – No one wants to get weaker. It’s kind of the opposite of why we train. When your lifts are suffering, particularly on your low rep work, it could indicate you’re starting to overreach and your central nervous system is getting a little bummed. The solution? Have a week of downtime and take a deload.
Sore Joints – You’re going to get the odd injury from time to time and a little soreness is part and parcel of the wonderful world of the lifting game. But being in constant pain, having your knees scream at you every time you squat, your elbows not playing ball when pressing, or your hips giving you grief just from walking up the stairs is not good. You’ll probably need a good dose of foam rolling, stretching and a trip to your physio or sports massage therapist, but combine this with a deload and your body will thank you.
After a Competition – If you’ve just competed in a a CrossFit competition, it’s definitely a great time to deload. People seriously underestimate how much mental and physical stress you put your body through in competition, so play it smart and take a deload.
Can I Skip the Deload?
NO. It’s horrid having to take things easy. If you’re in any way serious about your training, going a week without hitting the weights with a vengeance and having to take things light is a thousand times more painful than the most grueling squat workout. In the long run though, deloading is without a doubt the smartest thing to do.
This is certainly the case for beginners and intermediate lifters. When you’re a little more experienced, and know what your body responds best to, maybe you can skip the odd deload, push it back a few weeks, or cut it a few days short if you know you’re fully recovered, but for now, keep it in.
If you are planning a deload or even if you are not, be sure to treat yourself to full Body service. See someone like a Chiropractor, Osteopath or Massage therapist on a regular basis(Monthly). I like to use the reference of a car when explaining this to people, although a car is less important than your body. You would not run your car for years on end, without taking it for the services it needs and the same concept should be applied to your body. We often talk about prehab when keeping injury free and the reality is that we slam our bodies with large loads on a regular basis and yes, this means that you will need to dish out some hard earned money, but it will cost less than when the prolonged injury becomes serious. Start making all of these things a habit and you will start seeing the benefits in training.
By Coach Mario