Ever heard the term 'De-load' thrown around your gym buddies and wondered what it was? To De-load in the gym is a planned period of recovery, typically about a week long and can be done in a variety of ways, all of which work fine. However you will need to experiment with all five of my below recommendations to find which approach you like and suites you the best. Like all choices in life, you will find some suit your and body and needs better than others. Please don't think a de-load week is the same as a cheat day or carb loading day with nutrition or just a fancy excuse to sit on the couch all day for a week. It's planned and strategic - designed to improve your gains regardless of what your gains & goals are.
De-load could be just what you need to get you out of the dreaded training plateau, to get you back hitting harder, faster and not to mention refresh you mentally. And for the lifting fan's out there de-load is very important to allow increased muscle recovery time for improved gains.
Why Should I De-load?
We can’t go 110% all the time, weather gym or life. No matter who we are, we all have a threshold. You might be badass and last a bit longer than someone else, but you won't keep up that kind of mental and physical intensity indefinitely. If you try to, you’ll wind up getting injured, or finding yourself “going through the motions” in your workouts, stalling in your progression, and perhaps THE WORST POSSIBLE OUTCOME even considering giving up completely on your goals. Consider De-loading a way to prepare for greater gains & bigger hits. A pre-planned and set recovery week allows you to make more gains than you would without De-loading and just gives you a break mentally from the constant grind.
Some sure signs it's time to de-load;
The most common - Progress has stalled. It could be a sign that your central nervous system is getting overloaded and just needs a break to recover.
Your recovering slows. Constant muscle soreness = time to De-load.
More frequent niggling injuries
You are getting sick more often
Resentment towards the gym
Lack of excitement towards the gym
Post competition boredom (athletes)
Increased body fat and muscle depletion, yet your nutrition plan is the best it's ever been.
How often should I De-load?
De-load around every 8-12 weeks for a week each time, 10 week programs are recommended. Over time (6-12 months) you will see better results, reduce your injuries, and most definitely have a more excited approach to your gym and sporting events.
Whatever you do, don’t wait until your already in the plateau phase - YOU NEED TO DE-LOAD BEFORE SYMPTONS. It will take you much longer to recover if you let yourself go past them. I always like to refer to it like a wild animal being caged, you don't want to cage it but you must hold it back for it's own good, for, animals die in the wild. Of course you won't die if you go the gym but you can slow progress. You are the animal and the gym is the wild. Some times depriving yourself of what you really want is a healthy discipline and keeps your passion alive. The caged animal want's what it can't have therefore it remains excited about the wild. Hope that made sense.
How Do I De-load?
Option 1: Lighten the load
A common method of de-loading is to lighten up the weights or to reduce power in the punches. As a guide, all your strikes should be performed at around 40-60% of your maximum effort. This doesn’t mean you go hell for leather smashing out high volume either. It's low volume and low power. Enjoy taking it easy - you have earned it.
Option 2: Less Is More
Keep your weights the same, but greatly reduce your work volume. Instead of doing 3 sets of 12 reps on a really heavy weight, go 2-3 sets of 5 reps instead. Or in boxing terms Instead of throwing 100 punches/kicks (strikes) in a round only throw 30 but keep them just as hard as a normal week.
Option 3: Slow down
Spend some time working on technique, mobility drills and stretching. Keep routine and get into your gym but try going to a quiet corner, stretching for 30 minutes then go home. ITS GREAT. You might find it hard to give up your boxing bag or weights, but your mind and body will thank you for the break.
Option 4: Wing it (great for non-athletes & my personal fav)
This approach is all about listening to our bodies' (which will require us to ignore our inner ego's) So, if you;
Feel amazing, go ahead and set some PB’s, check out your gym's record board and have a whole session just trying to set a few. This can be fantastic for increased muscle shock as-well.
Feel good, go in and smash the best you can!
Just so-so today, do your program but don’t go crazy. Who cares what you lift or how hard you punch, focus on your form & De-load. tell your trainer your just having a de-load session.
Feel terrible, do the right thing by your body and go for option 3.
Option 5: Take the week off
Another one of my personal fav's. Sometimes it's just less complicated to just take a week off and chill. I do this if I have been going hell for leather for a long time. The harder I have been going the longer I will take (between 5, 7, 10 days maybe even 14 just depends on how hard I've been working).
Stay awesome guys!!!
Keep the hands up and gloved up!
Paul Rose - TTF.