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Deloads: When, Why and How
So in the last blog post, we went through some intensity techniques that can be used to get you in shape if you are behind the curve in regards to getting in shape. But lets say you’ve been crushing it. You’re eating all your meals, killing your workouts and what not. But you find yourself a bit winded during workouts, not sleeping well and generally not recovering as well. Weights feel heavier and you're just consistently sore. Guess what that means? You are in need of a deload.
Deload to Reload: The When
The deload is a phase in training that generally lasts for about a week. Generally they are periods of reduced volume and weight to give your joints, muscles and recovery systems a chance to breathe. Usually they are put in after a period of hard, balls to the wall training. They were popularized in powerlifting training and have more recently made their way into bodybuilding.
Active Rest: The Why and How of Deloads
As I said above, they are used to give your body a break after a period of hard training. Think of them as an active rest. In this type of period, you can use exercises that you normally wouldn’t use in your training. So if your phase of training was very flat bench heavy for instance, you’d use this a time to throw in some incline bench or machine press. Put in some “pump” work just to get blood in the chest.
Also, volume needs to see a reduction. Wether it be an elimination of an exercise or total workload over exercise selection. Here’s an example below using a back workout….
“Blast” Phase Back Training:
Chins: bodyweight x 4 sets of 10-12
Bent over rows: 4 sets of 8-12
Meadows Rows: 4 sets of 8
Seated Rows: 3 sets of 15
Reload Back Training:
Chins: Bodyweight x 3 sets of 8
Bent Rows: 3 sets of 8 ( not heavy)
Meadows Rows: (OPTIONAL) 2 sets of 8
Seated Rows: 2 sets of 10
Notice how overall workload was taken down. Also something to keep in mind during a reload phase is that no sets are pushed to failure and no intensity techniques are used. Weights doing this period are not meant to drive you the brink either. You should be able to do them relatively easy.
Also, a deload is NOT meant for a time to be used to mess around in the gym. The problem with most is that they don’t take this time seriously. Most will stray from the diet (NO), most will indulge in alcohol they don’t normally indulge in (NO) and some will not train at all (not recommended, but different for everyone).
Take the reload seriously. What should be done are additional recovery modalities for you to come back to the gym and smash it up. Contrast showers, deep tissue massage and pool work all insert well into a deload phase.
The deload is meant to be a temporary landing to blast you off into the next phase of training. Know the signs of when you need a one and take it as seriously as your regular training sessions.