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, 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.
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.
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 go with. 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.
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