The importance of a deload

Originally Posted on Monday, July 16, 2012 11:30 AM
I read my first technical training book when I was 14.  It was a total training program for bringing a wrestler from nothing to the Olympics.  Like many of the old Eastern Block books, it assumed you had a candidate who was gifted physically and given all possible assistance for an outstanding career.  One part of the book strikes me to this day:  That the wrestler would take a month off every year or so.  Off, totally off.  And in reading the Russian lifting texts, they, too, took time off where they only goofed around, swam, did other stuff.  In an Olympic year, that month might be a week or two, and after an Olympic year, that time might be two or three months depending on your age and background.  

This LBEB post talks about deloading, and briefly explains why it's needed:

In my programming, we generally do three work weeks followed by a deload week.  Sometimes we extend the work to five to six weeks on an individual basis, followed by a longer deload.  usually, though, the deload is every four weeks.  In a year-long plan, we deload right after the major meet of the year.  I tell the lifters to train 2-3 days a week and do whatever they want to do; we'll try some strongman stuff, some fun lifting. generally some more conditioning and bodyweight stuff that month.  Then, we spend a month doing no lifts over 80%.  After that month, we start back in on the year long plan.  

I mention this deload now because some new folks have decided to jump into my programs.  You MUST deload when it's planned, otherwise you will not peak when it's planned.  We hit 90% two or more days a week in a four day a week program, and the program beats you up.  You squat three or four days a week.  take the break when it's built in.  if you max or test during a deload week, you won't be able to do the volume the weeks you need to.  I know you feel better during the deload week, that's the reason we do them.  

Another, often overlooked, reason to deload is to learn to handle the emotional and intellectual difficulty of lifting heavy weights.  Most of us come to the gym because we enjoy it, and those of us who compete like to lift heavy things.  Lifting heavy is a difficult psychological task.  The deload week allows you to come to the gym fully confident you'll make the lifts, and you'll let yourself feel good about what happens that week.  

If you have a stressful work day or week, or your personal life interrupts your training, and you have to miss a day or tow of lifting, or you miss lifts because you don't sleep because of personal stress, those weeks are NOT a deload.  Those weeks suck, and you need to get into training again easy.  Lifting is only one of the stresses in our lives, and we need to learn that life stress is a valid reason to take it easy for a week in the weight room, and then we need to take it easy for a week in the weight room so we can get prepped for taking it hard.  

Here are some more articles on the deload how and why:

Michael McKennaComment