The Deload Week: Why You Need to Incorporate it in your Training
The Deload Week: Why You Need to Incorporate it in Your Training
There are many reasons why you need to incorporate the deload week into your training. If you have been doing the same program for years without any changes then you might not even realize its importance.
There are several reasons why you need to take a break from your current routine and implement the deload week into your training.
1) To get stronger!
If you want to improve your strength, you need to do something different than what you’re currently doing. For instance if you’ve been lifting weights every day for years, but have never done any kind of bodybuilding or powerlifting workouts, then maybe it’s time to start incorporating some new exercises into your routine.
Or perhaps it’s time to switch up your cardio routines. Whatever it may be, you’ll definitely benefit from implementing a deload week into your training.
2) To increase flexibility!
It’s very common nowadays to see people using machines like leg extensions and other isolation movements instead of performing full range of motion exercises such as squats, deadlifts, presses and rows. These types of exercises tend to limit flexibility since they don’t allow for enough range of movement.
Over time you’ll find that your hips, ankles and other areas of the body begin to get tight. Incorporating new flexibility into your routine is a great way to keep your body loose and ready for action!
3) To try out new exercises!
If you’ve been training the same way for years then it might be time to try some new exercises. Incorporating a deload week every once in a while where you can try out some new lifts and techniques will keep your training fun and interesting.
It’s pretty easy to get burnt out from the same old routine so take advantage of deload weeks to try something new.
4) To increase endurance!
Most bodybuilders don’t really care about endurance since it doesn’t help them build mass. But for most of us, endurance is actually important.
Just because you’re lifting heavy weights doesn’t mean you don’t need endurance since you’re going to tire out long before your smaller and weaker muscles give out. Incorporating a deload week every once in a while where you can focus more on endurance training will help improve your athletic abilities, strength endurance and even speed.
5) To try out new workouts!
Maybe you’ve been doing the same old thing for years, and it’s just not fun anymore.
Time for a change. Deload weeks are a great time to try out some new workouts, or even take a rest from the weights all together and try something new! Go play some basketball, go mountain biking, go swim laps, try martial arts or take a yoga class. There are so many other activities you can do that will help prevent injuries while also giving you a bit of rest from the monotony of weightlifting or other high intensity exercise.
6) To improve your mental focus!
While this point doesn’t really have anything to do with muscle building specifically, it can still be beneficial. One of the best things you can do to improve mental focus is take a break from training.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people make drastic increases in strength and size after taking a week off from training. This alone proves that the mind and body need time to recuperate from time to time. Now, it’s been scientifically proven that people learn better after they’ve gotten a good night’s sleep. This also applies to exercising the brain. Taking a break from training not only gives your body an opportunity to recuperate, but it also allows your mind to rest as well. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can learn after you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep!
In the next part of this series I’ll go over what you can expect from a typical deload week and also talk about why it’s important to take one every once in a while.
While I’ve gone over the importance of taking a break, this doesn’t mean you should stop training completely. Far from it.
In fact, many top athletes and bodybuilders take entire weeks off every once in a while just to let their bodies recover and get stronger. It’s especially important for people who compete in sports since they’re putting more stress on their bodies than the average person, and have to worry about things like over training and getting injured. If you’re not an athlete then you probably don’t need to go to those extremes, but it never hurts to at least take a day or two off every once in a while.
Now the big question…
How do you actually go about taking a deload week?
There’s several different ways you can go about it, so it’s really just a matter of deciding which method is best for you. Before I get into specifics I should mention that whether you train to failure or close to it every set during your deload week, the most important thing is that you actually take one. As long as you do that then you’re getting all the benefits without any of the drawbacks!
Well, without further ado here’s a few different ways to go about taking a deload week (remember, only one way is necessary…
feel free to use more if you like though!)
Low Intensity Method:
* First of all, pick an exercise you intend to do for your first chest workout. I’ll use flat barbell presses as an example.
Begin with a weight you could normally do for about 6-8 reps.
Do a warmup set of 8 reps and then immediately drop the weight by 20-30% and do another set of at least 8 reps.
Continue to drop the weight and do sets of 8 reps until you’re barely able to get 4 reps.
That’s one drop-set and you should have at least 4 of them, possibly more. Also, because you’re using such low weights you shouldn’t be going to failure.
Once you’re done with your drop-sets, immediately move on to another exercise. You can either do all the flat bench exercises in the gym or move on to another machine or free weight exercise.
Whatever you choose, just make sure you don’t do another chest exercise.
The whole point of this method is to give your muscles a little bit of rest while still encouraging hypertrophy!
High Repetition Method:
* Pick a weight that’s fairly light and do as many reps as possible with it for one exercise. You can take as much rest as you need, but try to keep the breaks to a minimum.
For instance, when doing standard bench presses start with a weight you could lift for at least 50 reps. It might be less than you expect!
Once you hit failure (or reasonably close to it) increase the weight and continue in a similar fashion. Continue until you’ve done all the chest exercises you need to do that day.
Don’t be surprised if you’re literally collapsing on the floor when you’re done. It might look something like this…
* Pick a machine exercise, for the sake of this example let’s stick with the oft-maligned-but-actually-pretty-good chest dip machine.
Start with a weight you think will allow you to do at least 50 reps. Do a set to failure or until your arms can no longer bend at the elbows (whichever comes first).
Then, without resting, increase the weight and do as many reps as possible.
Once you can no longer get more than 6 reps, increase the weight yet again and continue in this vein until you’ve done all the chest exercises you need to do that day.
Do I Really Need to Take a Day Off?
Yes! It may seem counter-intuitive, but taking a break from time to time is one of the best things you can do to progress. Think about your favorite sports team. They don’t just practice all year long, they have off-seasons where they rest, reflect upon the past season, and prepare for the next one.
The same idea applies to you and your efforts in the gym. Your body goes through a lot and even if you think you’re superman, constant abuse of the same muscles can lead to muscular, joint, and skeletal issues.
How Can I Make The Most Of This Deload Week?
Research has shown that your body takes 6 weeks to fully adapt to a training stimulus. That means that if you start a new workout plan or change things up, it’ll take about 6 weeks for your body to fully adjust. After that period of time, you’ll hit a plateau and stop seeing the same results as before.
So, if you change up your chest workout this week with the high/low rep scheme, next week you’ll want to go back to your regular routine.
Mentally this can be a bit of an adjustment. Many people feel like they’re “losing ground” or that they’ll stop seeing results if they don’t consistently keep changing their routines.
It’s important to remember that you don’t become immune to the effects of exercise after 6 weeks, you just stop getting stronger/bigger/faster at the same rate as you did when you first started.
But this concept is also a positive thing! It gives you a reason to continue striving for more.
Once you’ve adjusted to one routine, it’s time to change things up. This is where many so-called “bodybuilders” get into trouble (as well as why steroids are so popular in that circles).
Instead of continually seeking new challenges, they stick with the same routine and when their body eventually becomes resistant to the exercises they’re doing, they simply increase the weight. Of course they continue to get stronger for a while, but only because they’re crushing their bodies with increasingly heavy weights.
This is how one develops a solid foundation of strength that will stay with them for their entire life! It’s also why you never hear about powerlifters living very long after they retire from the sport.
But what about muscular dystrophy? Or big-guy-itis? Shouldn’t people worry about the long-term affects of heavy weight lifting?
Yes, but that’s more of a factor of abusing your body with excessive weight. I’ve seen very overweight people with no muscle tone do things that would break a healthy, well-muscled guy in half. The mind is a powerful thing and it can allow you to accomplish great physical feats… or it can be your worst enemy. How you use it is up to you.
Research has also shown that weightlifters live longer than people who don’t lift weights at all. The reason being is simple: strong people are less likely to get hurt.
If you’re strong, you can handle a lot more physical hardship without having to worry about something snapping and causing a life-ending injury.
You’ll also live longer if you have a strong mind and take care of yourself. Always listen to your body and rest it when it needs rest…
just don’t allow yourself to become a mental vegetable.
Eat healthy, sleep well, and take the time to enjoy other things in life (such as video games, movies, books, and family) and you’ll be the picture of health!
On a final note, I think it’s important to remember that different people have different genetics and these guidelines may or may not apply to you individually. Some people can get away with doing very little and still live a long life.
Other people will push themselves to the limit and die of a heart attack in their 40s.
So if you do come out ahead of the game and have a physically active lifestyle, it’s all the better for you!
There is an important distinction to be made between health and wellness. Just because you’re “healthy” doesn’t mean you’re “well.” This is where many people go wrong when it comes to exercise.
They only think about the short-term gains and don’t take into consideration how their body will feel in the decades to come.
For example, a person can work out every day, but if they’re eating poorly, chances are they’re going to develop some sort of health problem.
How much time do you spend enjoying your life instead of exercising? Is it worth it to you? Are you going to feel better about spending time doing something else more enjoyable or are you going to feel like you wasted your youth because you’re too tired to do other things?
The same principle can be applied to eating junk food. Some people spend hours exercising, but eat fast food twice a day.
Are they really getting healthier?
No, even if they’re “healthy”, they’re still not “well.”
There are other factors like stress as well that can wear a person out and lead to health problems in the future. Some people can “tough out” a stressful job, but still manage to take the time to enjoy life.
Others might have less demanding jobs, but get so wrapped up in it that they never have any free time to do anything else.
And then there’s the whole debate about organic food. There are studies that claim there is minimal nutritional difference between organic and non-organic foods that justify the extra expense.
There are also just as many, if not more, studies that claim there is a very noticeable difference in taste and health benefits when it comes to organic foods.
You’ll have to educate yourself and make a decision based on your own research.
Ultimately, you need to remember that you will only have one set of teeth and one set of organs to last you your entire life. It’s up to you to take care of them and make the right decision so you can enjoy your golden years without major health complications.
Again, just because you’re healthy doesn’t mean you’re well, so always think about your future and how you plan on enjoying it.
In closing, just remember the key words: “Health is simply a state of mind.”
So get out there and live your life to the fullest!
Sources & references used in this article:
- Why Are Rest And Recovery So Important When Training? (ATHPCA Carroll – Coach, 2020 – blog.athletetrainingandhealth.com)
- Why Women Should Lift Weights (B Wanamaker)
- Your Posture Sucks–Volume (A Cammarano – forzahealth.wordpress.com)
- How To: Balance Running Training With Strength Training (FA Cammarano – forzahealth.wordpress.com)
- Tag Archives: overreaching (K Murray – thekimfitway.com)
- From Old School to New School (HRVMD Strength, HIITO Microcycles – hrvtraining.com)