This post outlines what deload weeks are, when we need them & how to do them.
Deload weeks are the one thing that seems almost too good to be true in fitness. A week of doing LESS to make MORE PROGRESS?!
It goes against everything we believe or are told: Workout so hard you feel like dying all the time to get results.
But exercise + hard training is a STRESSOR 👏🏻 and just because you don’t think of your self as an athlete or fit if you’re consistently hitting your lifts or runs YOUR BODY DOESN’T CARE.
If you are a beginner or novice trainee, you won’t need them as often and can either: 1) simply let life create deloads for you when things get busy, drop your volume or 2) when you plateau in your lifts drop your volume ~10% or try cut your sets by 1 (I.e. 3×8 back squat –> 2×8 back squat or 3×8 @ 150lbs –> 3×8 @135)
If you have more experience training, you can 1) bring your volume back to what it was at the beginning of your block/phase 2) Drop volume 20-50% depending on your experience and recovery needs and current volume (i.e. 80 total working sets at ~80% 1RM –> 40-56 at ~50-60% 1RM).
Here are some hard truths about deloads:
👉🏻 You can be super dedicated and sleep well and eat well and still need to recover!! Your ego can take a seat ♥️👏🏻
👉🏻 If you’re less consistent, newer to training or “let life happen” you most likely don’t need them. Life itself likely programs this for you. Which is OKAY!
👉🏻 Some of the signs listed here can also be because you’re
- Sleep is poor
- Stress is high or
- You’re following too high a volume of plan or crappy plan. So always consider those!
Train smart AND hard – you can do both! 👊🏼
TLM CLIENTS & DELOADS, when do you see them?
If you are a The Lyss Method Client, I program these for you. Also, keep in mind that if you are someone who shifts their calendar around or misses week often, these would be considered “life deloads”.
You will see deloads in block 4, ,7 and 10 in your first year of TLM. Or roughly after each 12 week block. But you will also see periods of lower intensity or high volume (i.e. Block 4 has less intense conditioning but more lifting volume).
What if you feel like you need a deload in the middle of a block?
Life, like lifting, is never perfect. If you are in the middle of a training block of mine, or anyone else’s, but feel that the “signs you need a deload” rings true to you. Then you can take control over your training and/or speak to your coach (me or otherwise) about the best plan of attack.
I would take this simple approach:
- Drop your sets in half. If you have say 4×6 –> 2×6 at the same weight
- Drop your RPE. If you have @RPE8 –> @RPE6, which is the same as saying drop your weight. So if you were doing 4×6 @200 lbs @RPE8, you can drop it to 4×6 180 lbs @RPE6.
What’s the best approach?
I would personally take the fewer sets but heavier weights, as a way to stimulate our nervous system if the goal of the block you are in, the program you are doing, or overall personal goals are strength.
However, on the other hand, if your block, training plan or goals are to maximize muscle growth, perhaps opt into the more sets but the lighter weight if it helps us do the most total volume (i.e. 2x6x200 lbs =2,400 lbs volume vs 4x6x180=4,320 lbs volume moved). YES, the volume is also a major factor of strength, but the goals in a deload are to recover and maintain fitness.
Deloads are NOT a bad thing. We have to rest/recover to keep making adaptations. This is a horrible mindset to be stuck in that you must always keep “pushing” and “going”. I promise you your gains are made in recovery as much as your hard training sessions.
Everybody and person are different. Your ability to recover will come down to your life, stress, sleep, outside factors which unless you have a 1:1 coach, may be hard to control at a group level.
However, YOU are smart. YOU are capable of understanding your body. Use the checklist here of “when do I need a deload” but also check-in to see if it’s too much volume OR you are neglecting the other things (i.e. eating enough calories/carbs, sleeping, hydrating, stress).
Then from there, take the best approach or let a coach (Hey, me!) do that for you!