What is a Deload Week and How Can It Help Your Progress?

Published by
Madeline Custer
January 26, 2024
January 30, 2024

Optimizing Strength

In the world of strength training, the concept of a "deload week" might sound counterintuitive at first. After all, isn't the goal to push our limits and consistently challenge our bodies? While intensity and progression are vital, strategically incorporating deload weeks into your training regimen can be a useful tool for sustained progress and overall well-being.

What is a deload week?

A deload week is a planned reduction in training intensity and volume, allowing your body and mind to recover from accumulated stress. Instead of pushing for personal bests, you ease off the gas pedal, giving your muscles, joints, and central nervous system a chance to recuperate with an active recovery mindset.

Why might you need a deload week?

  1. Preventing Burnout: Consistent, high-intensity training can lead to burnout. Deload weeks act proactively to prevent mental and physical fatigue.
  1. Reducing Injury Risk: Overtraining is a common cause of injuries. Deloading helps minimize the risk of overuse injuries by providing your body the time it needs to heal.
  1. Optimizing Recovery: Deloading fosters better recovery. Muscles repair and grow during periods of rest, and deload weeks create the optimal environment for this process.

When should you take a deload week?

The timing of a deload week depends on individual factors like training experience, intensity, and overall stress levels. Signs that a deload might be in order include persistent fatigue, decreased performance or motivation, disrupted sleep, nagging aches or pains, or difficulty recovering between workouts.

What are the benefits of deload?

  1. Injury Prevention: Deload weeks help prevent injuries and burnout, allowing your body to recover and adapt.
  1. Enhanced Progress: Contrary to concerns, deload weeks are designed to enhance long-term progress. The temporary reduction in intensity allows your body to supercompensate, returning with a higher performance capacity and better equipped to handle higher training loads.
  1. More enjoyment of exercise: A change of pace is often a great way to refocus on our goals and enter the subsequent weeks with more mental sharpness and enthusiasm

Common Questions:

Will I lose muscle or progress?

No! Deload weeks are designed to enhance long-term progress. The temporary reduction in intensity allows your body to supercompensate, coming back with a higher performance capacity  and better equipped to handle higher training loads. 

The science shows that in most cases it takes greater than 3-4 weeks of complete inactivity before any reduction in muscle mass happens and that is at complete inactivity. 

How should I structure a deload Week?

If a deload is not programmed for you, but it feels like it might be time, you can always plan one yourself! To do so we would suggest cutting back on volume and intensity for that week. Reduce the frequency of workouts, number of sets and reps, decrease your weight selection, and even consider incorporating active recovery activities like mobility or low intensity steady state cardio.

Can I stay active during a deload Week?

Absolutely. While you should reduce the intensity of your regular workouts, staying active is certainly encouraged. Even simply engaging in activities that promote blood flow and flexibility will aid in overall recovery.

When will I see a deload week in Moves training programs?

Deload weeks are commonly programmed into our “push” phases, like the Tighter Together Challenges or Weekly Moves Elevated. These phases intentionally increase intensity for a short period to maximize progress, so a deload is incorporated to aid in that progress. 

Although these weeks are always optional, our trainers program them with intention, to help you maximize your progress, so we highly encourage you to embrace the process! 

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