The Importance of Deloading

Should each working set be at maximal effort every workout? There are many schools of thought here but the short answer is - no! Though a novice lifter may attempt their 1rpm max every single workout, they eventually plateau and we are often faced with the fact that your 1rpm changes day-to-day, week-to-week, and so on. With exception to newbie gains and PEDS, your body simply cannot achieve the same numerical level of greatness each workout - not forever.

Your CNS (central nervous system) is getting a workout with your muscles. It needs to recover just like your muscles do. Pushing your reps to 100% each working set puts a lot of stress on your CNS, more than you probably think. After a few months of hard training, you`ll notice when your CNS has been overtrained; you`ll be exhausted all day, workouts will get tougher and less enjoyable, muscle soreness will last longer, you might see a decline in your sexual prowess - you`ll feel like shit!

At this point, you`ll either decide it`s time for a break or keep pushing through it. You`ll notice a few things happening for different people:

 - Some will push through and continue to get worse or decline in overall training - end of progression!
 - Some will quit working out (some entirely!).
 - Some will decrease their intensity and/or weights, which we refer to as "deloading"

Deloading comes in many shapes and forms. Common deloads include 1-2 weeks of zero training or a decreased workload. Both are effective in their own right. There is a shared fear of zero training as many think it will equate to a sudden and massive loss in strength - the ego on us! Some may experience a SLIGHT decrease in strength during this rest period but that is usually attributed to inadequate rest, poor sleep, poor nutrition, additional stress or depression, or a combination.

A second style of deload is a decreased intensity for 1-2 weeks. Some choose to reduce their reps and use the same weights; some reduce their reps and weight (up to 50%).

Many lifters struggle with this due the humbling experience of using less weight than we are used to - the ego on us! No one cares that you are deloading. No one is standing there watching your strength and thinking, "damn, bro! You`re weak as shit!". It`s just you and your ego - we all have one.

Typically, after these 1-2 weeks of deloading, lifters will come back stronger. You have given yourself extra time to recover, eat more, sleep more, and reflect on your training style (and life). Your ego, muscles, and more importantly your CNS, will thank you!

Listening to your body is vital to healthy life and responsible lifting. It`s talking to you - you just have to listen. Next week, we`ll go over a program that has been shown to reduce the frequency of a much-needed deload - RPE.

Stay tuned!