If you find that your progress in the gym has plateaued or that your motivation has evaporated, then changing this one thing might be the missing ingredient.
I know what you're thinking. It's probably a piece of equipment that you need to buy or a new training plan that you have to follow.
It’s none of those things. In fact, it's a very simple concept called a Deload Week.
A deload week is a planned easier week or rest week. It’s something that top athletes use all the time! And in my experience, recreational athletes also benefit from these deloaded training blocks.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Every 4 to 12 weeks, you will reduce the volume or intensity of your training. This allows you to recover from the exercise you have been doing and be able to work harder in your next training block.
Again, you may be thinking, “If I have an easier week, doesn't that mean I'm going to get weaker? Aren’t I being lazy? I'll fall out of the habit of going to the gym?”
Nope. No. And no again! None of these things are true.
What I've seen with clients and myself is that knowing that you have a lighter week coming up makes you more committed to your training. You'll finish the deload week feeling amped up and ready to dive back into a hard week of workouts. And in the long run, you will make more of each gym session because you know you have a rest coming up.
There are Three Ways to Deload Your Training
The first is to just simply reduce the amount of training you're doing in a week. Your workout will likely take about half the time it normally does. So if normally you do 4 sets of back squats with 150 lbs on the barbell, you're going to be doing 2 sets with the same weight.
The second way to deload is to reduce the intensity of your lifting, but keep the same number of reps and sets. This looks like back squatting 100 lbs on your deload week instead of back squatting on 150 lbs like on a normal week.
The third and final way is to do a combination of reducing the amount of training and intensity. So maybe you do three sets, but you only have one set at 150 lbs and you reduce the weight of the last two sets of those back squats.
With most of my clients and training plans, I reduce the volume of training while keeping intensity high. This is so shorter workout days can be supplemented with more work on mobility, meditation or rest and relaxation.
I have mobility sessions that are free for you to follow along with:
The Training Secret
How to Stay Consistent in the Gym
There are a few instances that do not count as a deload week.
Sometimes I'll have clients not be able to get into the gym for a week or more because they get sick, work is really busy or they have a family emergency.
These reasons do not count as a deload week because your life stress is preventing you from recovering. You're still going to benefit from a deload week before you get back into full-on training.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I PROGRAM A DELOAD WEEK?
Well, it depends on how hard you're pushing.
I personally will take the last week of each month and use that as a deload week. For me, it works out really well with my life and with my schedule. I choose to deload more frequently knowing that I am making progress over the long term.
If you're training really intensely for a very specific goal and you know that you have the time and the resources to help yourself recover from each workout, you could plan a deload week once every 8 to 12 weeks.
Keep in mind that we need to do something sustainable in the long term to make real progress.
Want to get adventure ready for all seasons and make gains? Check out our WILDR training programs.
I hope you have a WILDR week!