By Jake Boly, Staff Writer
What is a deload?
Essentially a deload is a break from the normal volume and intensity of your current routine. This isn't a one-to-two day break either like most people do; this is a week or two to ensure full rest and recovery of your body. The whole point of deloading is to give your joints, central nervous system and mentality a complete break.
If you research deloading you'll find multiple ways of properly doing it. Why are there multiple ways? Everyone reacts differently and has different needs. Some people enjoy their normal routine just structured much, much lighter. Others take a complete week off and engage in other activities. Like everything else, this is going to take time to find what you react and perform best to.
When it's useful...
If you're constantly pushing yourself 110 percent of the time and start to miss personal records regularly, lose excitement, or worse, put yourself in a spot for easy injury (poor form, careless movements, ego-driven movements). When you hit the spot that most refer to as "plateau," these are often a great signals to start thinking deload.
Many of us have been in this position: you go to the gym and feel like you're fully rested and ready to go. You pick up your normal weights (not heavy or PR weight) and they feel way heavier than normal. When you're pushing yourself to the max five or six days a week and don't feel like you need a deload (like most do) it can be beneficial to take a forced deload.
There are limitless possibilities for trying to find when your body needs a deload. The whole point is to help rest your body before you hit that point where you injure yourself or completely burn out.
How to cater it to you and how often...
I hit on this above when I said some people do light routines and others take complete weeks off. In all honesty, I think deloads are just as effective on keeping a healthy mentality along with body. I hear people say everyday, "I hate rest days," or, "I don't need them." I feel like saying to these people, "please don't learn the hard way."
I firmly believe if you are truly killing it in the gym with whatever activity you're undergoing thre to five times per week you will want weeks to deload. If you're going six times a week, I find it hard to believe you are giving it your all every single time.
Do you enjoy structure in your workout weeks? If so, try doing your normal routine but at 50-60 percent intensity (even less if you want). I've found this helps put your mind at rest if you're someone who feels like they need to get to a goal as fast they can. You're still in the gym doing your normal lifts; you're just being smart and giving your body a rest by going light. This is a method where your ego must be at bay.
If you don't want to go in the gym just to move the lighter weight, stay out. Or better yet, find another activity to engage in. What people don't realize is that one single week won't impede progress or slow your gains. In fact, it will help you by keeping everything fresh and your body rested. Keep in mind to stay active (but not pushing yourself), stretch a lot, and maintain proper nutrition.
This will be a short point mainly because this is dependent on your training intensity and volume. If you're someone in the gym three times per week you might take a deload every 6-8 weeks. This is compared to someone in the gym five times per week who deloads every three to five weeks. The point I'm trying to make is that you're going to have to be honest with yourself and take a deload and when you truly need it.