Should you use a deload in your training? I mean essentially this is a whole week or two (depending how your training his set up) of making zero gains right? Why would you do that? Surely you should be going hard each time you go to the gym?
Let’s look at this another way. If you filled your car full of petrol, went on the motorway and floored it non stop eventually the petrol will run out. And that’s if it doesn’t break down before that. Your car wasn’t designed to be floored for long periods. Your body is no different.
A deload can allow you to recover from a few hard weeks of training both mentally and physically. It gives your joints a chance to recover and your muscles and tendons a chance to grow stronger from all the hard work you’ve done in the weeks prior. They can also be a good tool in terms of injury prevention for the reasons mentioned above.
Have you ever had that feeling of being really fatigued in the gym? Weights you normally lift comfortably now feel heavy? If this is happening over a few weeks and your sleep and nutrition are in check perhaps a deload is exactly what you need.
If we look at the car scenario again it’s possible if you had a newer car it may fair a little better than an older car with some milage on the clock. This can be applied to our training situation. Someone new to the gym may not really need to use a deload too much, if at all, as they are recovering fairly well and building strength almost every time they train. Us seasoned lifters with plenty of lifting miles on the clock are also lifting much heavier loads compared to the gym newbie. The stress on our bodies is significantly increased. In this situation we would probably find a deload a lot more useful.
However you should not view your deload as a chance to take it easy in the gym. You should still go in with the intention of working hard and work with your usual intensity. You can use this week to get more nobility work in or take extra care and attention to technique.
There are many ways to approach a deload there isn’t only one way to utilise it. One way to look at it is you are trying to reduce the amount of “work” you do in the gym that week. A simple way to approach it is to reduce your volume by 50% while maintaining intensity. In other words if you usually squat 100kg for 4x5 then do 100kg for 2x5.
So to wrap up I think a deload is a valuable tool that should be used for most people or at the very least used when you feel more fatigued then usual. Sometimes listening to your body can be your greatest tool.