Tag Archives: deload
You need to increase it to keep progressing, but too much and you will find yourself in a world of trouble because your body can only recover from so much before you need to take your foot off the fas pedal. This is what;s known as a planned de-load, these usually work well at the end of a training block (4-12 weeks), or even after every 3 weeks of ‘hard’ training and will allow you to take some stress off the nervous system and reduce your overall else of fatigue.
The 3 week increasing intensity followed by the 1 week de-load is quite popular in many programs written by some top strength coaches/athletes, the likes of which include Charles Poliquin, Jim Wendler, Christian Thibaudeau, Louis Simmons (well, he is more along the lines of not training the same movement at 90% intensity for more than 3 week), the list could go on but these are only a couple of examples.
I have known people to try and train at their top end intensity for extended periods of time and end up digging a hole that they struggle to recover from. Thus stalling their potential progress and in some cases regressing it.
DON’T BE ONE OF THEM!
If you have been tracking your total volume a de-load is a simple case of knocking you last total load down by a percentage that allows you still stay neurologically ready but reduces the fatigue. For example; you could reduce the total volume by up to 50%, meaning if your average amount of sets per movement was 20 per week you might only do 10 with a varying intensity (say working up to a double at 90% for example, you’d still keep the feeling of lifting the heavy weight but you’d greatly reduce the overall stress and aid recovery/adaptation).
It is true that some people can handle lighter de-loads than others, and place them farther apart because they have a higher MRV (maximum recoverable volume), but you’re not ‘some people’ you will need to take a specific approach and establish your INDIVIDUAL needs to the number, no guess work. If you can handle more volume and only need a reduction every 8 weeks then great, go for it, just be sure that’s the case. Don’t dig a hole in you can’t get out of without a complete rest week.
Now go and sit down with a pen/paper and work out what YOU need to do.
Do you even De-load?
*This post inspired by SC Vital Fitness (go check out their page) http://www.scvitalfitness.co.uk
Deload weeks are an interesting topic because how to plan one in will differ from person to person, but for the majority of people that work hard and handle weights at 85%+ of their 1RM they are an essential part of training.
A de-load will help your body recuperate and allow the R/A (recovery/adaptation) of SRA (Stimulus/Recovery/Adaptation) to occur which will let you progress further and for longer. If you were to keep increasing the volume or intensity eventually your body would give out, or more appropriately your CNS would become too fatigued to continue.
The question is how would you plan one?
You can schedule in a download every 4th, 8th or 12th week for example. Those numbers are not set in stone, but you need to have a decent amount of progression and stimulus to induce an adaptive response, if you’re de-loading too often you won’t get enough stimulus to adapt or progress.
Programming a de-load isn’t too hard, if we use every 4th week as the example for ease of numbers you will be able to see the theory behind their structure.
A basic program that hits each body part every 7 days (optimally every 3-5 days is better) based around the larger compound movements.
Goal: Increase triples (3RM).
Day 1 – Squat + 2 Assistance Exercises – Example: RDL/Calf Raise
Day 2 – Bench Press + 2 Assistance Exercises – Example: Bent Over Row/Skull Crusher
Day 3 – Off
Day 4 – Deadlift + 2 Assistance Exercises – Example: Front Squat/Hamstring Curl
Day 5 – Shoulder Press + 2 Assistance Exercises – Example: Pull Up/Barbell Curl
Day 6 – Off
Day 7 – Off
Main Lift 8×3, assistance lifts at either 4×6, 5×5 or 3×8.
Week 1 – 8×3 @ 85%
Week 2 – 8×3 @ 87.5%
Week 3 – 8×3 @ 90%
Now there are a couple of options for the de-load, you can reduce the intensity or the volume, here are examples of both.
1 – Week 4 – 8×3 @ 65% – Reducing Intensity while keep up volume
2 – Week 4 – 4×3 @ 85% – Reducing Volume while keeping up intensity
Both of these options are popular but which of the two would be better?
Either choice would work well but the second option of reducing the volume would allow you to start a new 3 week cycle of training with more confidence, it would also keep your bodies CNS more switched on and ready for the heavy weights you might day.
The second cycle might look like this:
Week 5 – 8×3 @ 87.5%
Week 6 – 8×3 @ 90%
Week 7 – 8×3 @ 92.5% – PB
De-load Week 8 – 4×3 @ 85%
The timed de-load will help keep the body primed for the last block of training, now at this stage your strength should have increase and considering you’re still workout off your previous 1RM the percentages might seem high but they are achievable.
Week 9 – 8×3 @ 90%
Week 10 – 8×3 @ 92.5%
Week 11 – 8×3 @ 95%
Week 12 – Rest Week or De-load leading in to new 1RM testing.
This is a very basic example and depending on the experience and training age of the lifter you can have some people who only need to de-load once every 12 to potentially 16 weeks, but a program of that length would have a lot of detail and various cycles of intensity in it, this is something more suited to athletes.
While a de-load is important you must also make sure that there is adequate nutrition and a good amount of sleep in any program too. The silent killer of progress is poor nutrition and a lack of sleep, if you have a solid program with these two things then you will make some great progress.
How many calories should you be eating on a program like this?
Considering it’s a strength based program 300-500 calories above maintenance is optimal, you can achieve a rough estimate of this number by taking your total weight in LBS and multiplying it by 17-19. You won’t need to add 3-500 calories on to that number, that number should be pretty close to where you need to be.
Use this info to help your own programming and go and make the progress you desire.