Everyone needs a break to recover and re-energize. You need a break from work i.e. vacation.You take a break from eating when you sleep or fast. Even pro-athletes have off-season.
Similarly, your body needs a break from lifting. This break does not mean skipping workout all together. Pro-athletes don’t stop training in off-season. You do not stop thinking on vacation. The only thing that happens on a break is we reduce the intensity.
De-loading weeks are exactly that. They are vacation for your body and mind from heavy lifting. We do not stop lifting, we just reduce intensity. Here are most common deloading questions (with answers) that will help you on your journey to strength mountain.
Q: What is de-loading week and why is it important?
Q: Should everyone take a de-loading week?
Q: Should novice lifters (<1 year) worry about deloading weeks?
Q: When should one take a de-loading week?
- Your performance is suffering or you will start hitting plateau.
- Energy will be low and your workouts are suffering.
- Mentally you can’t focus on workouts.
- Injured or not fully recovering from intense workouts.
When you feel you can’t progress, its time to take a step back. De-load. It is critical to understand that de-load will vary from person to person.
If you are using gyminutes app, you can analyze your workouts to see when you need an deload week. See figure below. This is from my 2nd round of madcow 5×5 routine. Each unit shows the volume lifted per session per week. I noticed that in week 7 – 8, I was struggling. But I fought and continued ahead. Week 9 was good but then week 10 was bad. I was mentally drained. I decided to take week 11 as deload week. I still worked but at low intensity. Week 12 onwards, I was back on track.
Q: How should a de-loading week looks like?
- Reduce volume and keep weight constant. For example, if you are doing 225×8 for squat, perform 225×3-5 reps.
- Reduce weight but keep higher volume. For example, based on above example you will perform 155×15 for squat. Reducing weight by 20-40% on the lifts.
- Reduce weight and volume. But be really careful with this. Not done correctly, this will set you back mentally. You may need more focus on following week to get back to your pre-deload week.
Q: What should be main focus of de-load week?
- Focus workouts on speed and technique. Think when you lift. Focus on form.
- Meditate. Every pro-lifter does it. This will help you get into flow.
- Sleep and take rest.
Q: Do I need to lift in de-load week? Why can’t I skip it entirely?
- Mentally absent. It takes more focus for mind to get into lifting mode.
- Will possibly trigger DOMS (Delayer Onset Muscle Soreness).