So for those who are unware, let me clarify what a deload is. There are different degrees of a deload, however…
it is a break from your normal volume of training.
This can range from doing 80% of your usual volume to taking an entire week or two off from lifting all together.
Should you take a deload week?
For a long time, I was insistent that deloads were overrated and overused. After a solid year of training and increasing my volume greatly, I did not experience any real need to take a deload week. My muscles stayed fresh, and my strength was continually progressing. If you are getting ample amounts of sleep and staying on track with your diet, there’s no real need to have to deload. However a deload will never hurt your gains, and it has become increasingly apparent to me that it would be wise to implement them into your routine.
First, let me explain that deloads can’t hurt your gains. One study took one group of test subjects and had them lift for 18 weeks straight on a training program. Another group of test subjects trained for 6 weeks then took a 3 week break from training. The study concluded that both test subject groups. Your body does not lose strength easily. Even if you do decrease slightly in your strength, you will gain it back very, very quickly. So again, a deload can’t hurt your gains.
The reason I used to be not a big fan of deloads, and I still am not to a certain extent, is that is sometimes advocated as a necessity. While a deload can’t hurt, neither can not taking a deload. For me, I was able to train heavily for a long time without taking a deload week. Unlike workout programs like 5/3/1 that advocate a deload once a month, I never felt it was needed. Moreover, I was so hungry to progress in my strength that taking a deload week probably would have hurt my hunger and confidence in the gym. My main points being that it is not wrong if you don’t want to deload. You can still work hard and make great progress. For some people taking a deload would have a negative impact on their mental attitude towards lifting. So to make a rigid schedule of deloads isn’t helpful for a lot of people.
On the other hand, deloads not only won’t hurt your gains, but can also have some positive benefits. While I was once at a point where deloading would negatively impact my attitude to train, I know am at the point where a deload actually have the opposite effect. To continually have a long term focus with you training is probably the hardest aspect. Lifting really isn’t that much complex. Rest, eat well, and gradually progress. The hardest part is having the attitude and hunger to continue to train from week to week. So if you are at a point where you feel like you just need a mental break, a deload can help give you rest and spur your hunger to train again.
Furthermore, there is constantly times where we are going to be full with responsibilities and commitments. As Christians, we have a duty to pour our efforts into our daily work, our families, and our churches. Handling all of this on top of training can get overwhelming. Sometimes there may be vacations, sometimes there may be busy weeks of parenting, sometimes there may be crises, etc. Point being, an all-out, no breaks allowed attitude towards training is unwise. Yes, I was able to pull it off at one point in my life. But now as I am searching for a full-time job and preparing for a wedding in January, I’m starting to see the long term picture of my training and how a week or two off may be helpful.
So should you take a deload week?
To summarize, a deload isn’t needed so I don’t recommend making a rigid schedule to plan them ahead of time. Moreover, some people may be at a point where a deload would negatively affect them. However, I do think it is wise to step away from the gym when we need a break. Whether it’s for vacation, a mental break, dealing with a crisis, or another need, remember that a week off won’t hurt and can actually help you to be hungry again to train. This is especially true when we need to take the time to be trained in righteousness and to serve the much higher obligations we are called to as Christians than lifting the barbell.