MX4 user Frank asks:
“Do you subscribe to the idea of programming in regular deloads? If so, how and when?”
A deload refers to a planned reduction in training volume and/or intensity, with the aim of improving performance during the next training cycle.
You lighten up on the weights, maybe train a little less, and generally just take your foot off the gas.
In days gone by, I used to find that a light week for every three weeks of hard training was a nice way to give my body a break from the constant stress of heavy training.
But as a blanket recommendation, it doesn’t work for everyone.
For many, inserting a light week between each training cycle wasn’t beneficial, and they would have made faster progress without one.
Often, a deload week will happen naturally. Maybe you go away on vacation. Perhaps you have an unusually busy week, and you can’t get to the gym.
In other words, life will throw a “light week” your way, either in the form of a week off training, or a week where you only get 1-2 workouts in. It might be the case that you don’t need to plan a deload week, because it happens by itself.
In general, I think it’s good practice to have a light week, or give yourself a complete week off, for every 12 weeks of hard training. Some people like to do it more frequently, having a break every 6-8 weeks.
These days, I prefer to use something called a “reactive deload,” which involves backing off when your performance in the gym takes a dip (I explain how to do it on page 36 of the MX4 manual).
However, it’s also important to pay attention to what your body is telling you.
Just because you start out with the intention of doing 12 weeks of hard training doesn’t mean that you can’t change that plan if your body tells you otherwise.
For example, if you find that progress is stalling across the board, you’re feeling a bit frazzled, and your joints are giving you grief, that’s a good time for a deload. On the flip side, if you’re feeling good and motoring along nicely, there’s no reason why you can’t just keep going.
Think of it as the “play it by ear” deload – you have a light or easy week only when you feel like your body really needs it.
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