Something feared by my athletes is “rest” . We want to train hard and often (sometimes too much) to counter this. Planning a deload week is a great idea. It is a week where you decrease weights and volume in order to promote overall recovery both mentally and physically. In a deload week if you with a percentage based program your working sets shouldn't exceed 65% of your 1RM. During the wod your intensity level should be managed to an 60-80% effort of what you would normally do. Simply put during a deload week you shouldn't feel from the work you just put in.
Mentally a deload week is usually harder than a normal training week because you have to put the break on things. In our minds this works counterproductive, but the results will surprise you. After a deload week your body will feel fresh and ready to take on more load than before the deload week. The basic principle of supercompensation just occurred within you body which is:
- Provide a stimulus (train)
- Remove stimulus (rest)
- Adaptation (results)
Your body adapted to the provided stimulus and reacted by getting stronger, for example an individual is able to deadlift 500 pounds. After serious training and adequate rest the body is now able to handle 505 pounds. This is the principle of supercompensation in a nutshell.
On the other hand if you never take a deload week eventually your body will get into a state of overtraining, and your body will plan that deload week for you.
Scheduled and unscheduled deload weeks
If you never give your body the adequate rest it needs for the volume you put on it eventually your body will plan that deload week for you either by injury or sickness (which is usually a result of overtraining)
Any good program will schedule deload weeks or “back off” weeks into their program. If you only follow normal class workouts this usually isn't the case. Most gyms cannot program deload weeks because of the vastly different types of athletes. Which brings me to my next point “when should you schedule a deload week?” depending on a lot of different factors Age, training background, level of fitness, etc. I recommend a deload week somewhere every 4-10 weeks.
Deload week is not a rest week
Having a deload week isn’t an excuse to just sit on your ass and do nothing, like active recovery days moving to various ranges of motions with light weight will promote blood flow and thus recovery.
Signs that you need a deload week
If you have some of the following signs it probably means you should schedule a deload week soon.
- Tired all the time
- Consistently having trouble with weights that used to be easy (<80%)
- Having small injuries that keep returning and won’t go away
- Reduced motivation to train
- Getting sick more frequently
- Having trouble sleeping
- Perpetual soreness
After a deload week you will probably feel a lot better and performances start to rise until you put enough strain on the body. In the end you gotta find out what works for you, how much volume your body is able to handle and adapt to will grow with years of experience.