“You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky
To de-load or not to de-load? Like a lot of things in this industry, you will have a line split down the middle on whether or not people believe in its use. As I was doing some research and reading for this article, I saw one article saying that the “de-load is dead” and another saying “why YOU should use it”. They even emphasised the “YOU” in capitals to grab the readers attention, that must mean its important right!?
A training de-load is a short term reduction in training volume and/or intensity in order for recovery and improved performance. The de-load ideology can be seen in the image below, the belief is that a short-term rest will enable you to rise back above the original base level that you started with.
There are many benefits to the de-load such as allowing your central nervous system to recover from the stress that training causes on your body, to give yourself a mental break from the demands of heavy training and for all supporting tissue such as your ligaments, tendons, to recover.
Who is it for
So is the de-load really necessary for you? It really depends on what type of training you have and who you are. People will read about de-load and instantly think that a break will bring them the next stage of amazing results, but their training currently consists of some light energy system work (Cardio) and a few sets of curls.
On the other side of the scale, you will have someone who busts their ass every single time they step into the gym and might have a few pains and aches that just aren’t going away, the de-load is perfect for them at that time!
Theres two key points I’m trying to make here. Firstly, the de-load isn’t for every single person who trains, it depends on the training you are currently performing. If your a relative beginner to the gym and been getting up to speed for the past few weeks, you don’t need a de-load at the moment. But, for people who are lifting heavy weights, feeling pain/aches in the joints and/or how you feel mentally, then don’t be afraid to have a de-load week to enable your body to recover and come back firing on all cylinders.
Secondly, don’t have a planned de-load week like a lot of people would recommend. By planning your de-load week, you risk the chance that you may come in on your de-load week feeling brilliant and wanting to hit your session at a pace and force that has been absent for weeks, even months.
Play it very much by on how you feel, if you hit a personal best on a session before and feeling sore and banged up, spend some more time on mobility and soft tissue work and reap the benefits of dialing the intensity/volume down.
What to do
So if you feel like your in need of a de-load, what is it that you do in order to help your body recover and come back better than ever? First of all I would recommend spending slightly longer on your soft tissue work and mobility. This gives your body extra TLC in order to help restore you to your maximum level.
Then, you can approach your normal session with reduced volume or even add in something fresh to give your body a break from the usual. For example, why not get 5 sets of kettle bells and alternate farmers and rack walks for 50m with press ups at the end for a set time of around 30 minutes.
The truth is there is a whole range of options for you to do when your on a de-load, just ensure that you keep it light and simple. Sometimes people can be afraid to turn their training down a notch because of the belief that they will become “weaker” for not keeping their training at a similar level. This is just a myth and although the weights may feel slightly heavier when you return, you will soon be back in the groove!
So in summary, having a de-load week isn’t for every person that attends the gym. It depends very much on how your body is feeling and how successful you are in relation to your goals. These two points will very much determine whether you will benefit from a brief de-load.
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