Defending the Deload

by Chris on July 2, 2013

I’ve noticed a trend recently where strength coaches seem to claim that you don’t ever need to deload your training. Sure everyone has their own systems and beliefs but I am particularly fond of when coaches claim that things are completely unnecessary or don’t work.

I’m a fan of occasional deloading. Maybe not every fourth week like some coaches, and maybe not in the same fashion, but an occasional deload nonetheless. This is something I first discovered when I was a young lifter and had no idea what a deload even was. I remember having to take a week completely off from training (no idea why) and when I got back into the gym my strength was way up and I felt great. Fast forward to the present and I still deload every so often when my training is feeling sluggish, life is busy or I just feel beat up.

Why Deload?

I guess this is the first question you should be asking when reading this. After all, more time in the gym should mean better results, right? And who can afford to take a week off or not training to your max capacity?

Well, look at it this way: day in and day out you’re in the gym beating up your body. You recover when you’re at home, sleeping and eating. BUT how much do you really recover? Eventually the wear and tear from training catches up to you and you’re progress either stalls out or goes backwards. The breakdown from the gym incrementally adds up.

So a deload basically allows your body to catch up, recovery-wise. All that fatigue and wear that has built up over time that your body just wasn’t able to 100% recover from is addressed during a deloading period.

Another interesting bit of Science™ that I read recently has to do with the anabolic agents that operate in your body. Without getting too technical, there are a whole host of compounds in your body responsible for building muscle, not only hormones but signaling proteins as well. A study conducted in Japan demonstrated that chronic resistance training actually reduces your sensitivity to some of these compounds – which explains why you don’t continue to put on muscle at the same rate over the years. The study also showed that a short detraining period raises sensitivity back up. Given, the study was conducted in rats but it’s reasonable to believe that the principles transfer over to human physiology.

Chalk one up to deloading. Not only do you get to catch up on recovery, you actually make your body more receptive to training again.

So How Do You Do It?

I have a few different strategies of deloading I like to use depending on the situation – which can mean anything from the program, the goal, the client or just how I’m feeling.

#1 – Low volume, High intensity

At first glance this doesn’t seem like a deload strategy at all, but bear with me. For many people the thing that beats them up most is volume, not intensity. I’m usually one of those and if my training is going pretty well this is the method I’ll typically use. This is also the most common method I write into my programs.

For a 4 week training cycle I normally make my final week a low volume, high intensity week. This pretty much means working up to a single, heavy set and then calling it a day.

So the month might look like this:

Week 1 – 4 x 8

Week 2 – 4 x 10

Week 3 – 5 x 5

Week 4 – 3 x 5

So you’re still getting some heavy lifting in but you don’t have to hit many sets to do so.

#2 – Low everything

If I feel like I need to deload because I’m beat up or my training is starting to stall this is the way I go. I drop intensity, volume and overall workload. This is a great full recovery week. Basically you lift seriously light weights for laughably low volume and cut out most of your assistance work.

For example:

3 sets of 5 with 55% of max

Assistance work – 2 sets of 10 reps with light weight

As a general rule I will cut my typical assistance work to half of what I did the week before. Since I usually do at least 4 sets that means that I cut down to 2. I’ll also drop out a few assistance exercises, resulting in a very low overall workload.

#3 – Low volume, moderate intensity

Depending on the situation this is a different strategy I’ll use. If training is going fairly well but not fantastic this is the route I’ll take. It allows me to get a break from excess volume while still getting a decent amount of work in. You’re not lifting very heavy but you’re not doing a whole lot of volume. Something along the lines of 2-3 sets of an easy 8-10 would fit here.

This is a great strategy to use when you need a bit of a break but don’t want to take a full deload like #2.

There are really lots of different deloading strategies that you can utilize. You can modify variables like spinal loading or eccentric load. The take-away point to this is that an occasional deloading of some variable will do you a lot of good. Everybody is different and depending on your situation and recovery you may need to deload once every month, every other month or only a few times per year. Only you can know. Use your head and don’t be afraid to listen to what you body tells you.

Trying to build muscle and get stronger? Get JACKED now.

{ 4 comments }

Training Tails E-Book Is Live!

by Chris on June 25, 2013

Hey everybody I know the blog has been a little light on content lately and I apologize for that. I’m going to be putting some new posts up very soon.

But that’s not what I’m writing about today. Today I wanted to officially announce to you that the Training Tails e-book is LIVE. You may have noticed an extra tab up at the top of the page.

training_tailscoverOr you can click the picture.

If you click on that tab you’ll find out everything you need to know about this amazing book. It includes 20 articles and programs from some of the biggest names in the fitness industry.

And all proceeds are being donated to a Long Island no-kill animal rescue.

So check it out and let me know what you think!

 

{ 2 comments }

New Article Up and E-Book Update

May 26, 2013

Hey everyone I realize this blog has been a little slow lately. There’s been a lot going on and I’ve been busy behind the scenes. Expect a new post sometime this week. In the meantime I’ve got a new article up over on Bodybuilding.com to hold you over. Aside from some minor changes this is […]

Read the full article →

Secret Project Announcement: E-Book Coming Soon

April 30, 2013

Loyal Train Better Fitness supporters, If you’ve been following me on Facebook you’ve probably seen mention of an ultra-mega top secret project that I’ve been working on for the past few months. Hopefully I’ve had you filled with so much suspense that it’s triggered an anabolic adaption in your physiology. Also, if you’ve been following […]

Read the full article →

Q&A Tuesday – Board Pressing, Improving the Squat & Post Workout Nutrition

April 23, 2013

Lately I’ve been doing lots of Q&A sessions over on the TBF Facebook page – if you haven’t joined us over there you probably should. There’s an overabundance of awesomeness that happens there daily. The point is that I’ve been getting some cool questions over there and I thought I’d share some with you. Board […]

Read the full article →

T-Shirts Are Now Available!

April 22, 2013

Ok bros and brahs. I’ve been meaning to get some shirts printed up for oooooh about two years but never really got around to it. I’m incredibly excited to inform you that I finally got my ass in gear and Train Better Fitness t-shirts are now available. So if you want to look extra sexay […]

Read the full article →

Building A Better Bench Press

April 17, 2013

Ah, the venerable bench press. For half the lifters in the gym it is their love. Every Monday, without question, is bench day. Upon greeting a new member of the gym tribe the traditional greeting is of course “How much ya bench?” Then there are the rest of us. For us, the bench press is […]

Read the full article →

The Good, The Bad and the Crossfit

April 10, 2013

This post has been brewing for a long time. Crossfit. If you train seriously the name has become pervasive in your daily life. You will inevitably see someone at the gym, on the street, on the train or in the bar who “does Crossfit”. It’s everywhere. Turn on the tv and you see the Crossfit […]

Read the full article →

Advanced Muscle Building: Pre Exhaust

April 2, 2013

There are quite a few advanced training techniques that are just bro down to the core but none so much as the classic pre-exhaust approach. It has the best of everything: isolation movements, compound movements, a pump and muscle building. Pre-exhaust like most effective, advanced techniques is incredibly complicated, but I’ll give you a crash […]

Read the full article →

An Excellent Testimonial – Stronger, Leaner, Better

March 23, 2013

In the past two weeks I’ve received a couple of awesome testimonials from people who have used my programs to great success. I posted about one of them on Facebook a few days ago. Here is an email I received from Chris C. who used a program I wrote for an article on Bodybuilding.com and […]

Read the full article →