What? A period (maybe a week/microcycle, maybe a few days) of time where we pull back training volume or intensity as fatigue accumulates.
The idea is that over time fatigue accumulates, and we need to pull back in order to recover and push ahead. Typically you’ll see them programmed at the end of a 6-10 week training block.
I do not pre-program deloads
The problem for me is this model was created based off rat studies where researchers literally worked/stressed the rats until they reached a state of complete exhaustion (ie death).
No one is in the gym working themselves to death. There is no mad scientists making you leg press until your legs fall off.
I do not pre-program deloads. Just like I don’t pre-program diet breaks.
I let your biofeedback be what tells me whether or not we need a deload week, or even just a few days off from the gym)
🔻No Sex Drive
🔻Can’t get a pump
🔻Lack of Motivation to go to the gym
🔻Generally feeling like you’re dragging
Those are some of the signs I look for that tell me that my athlete may be in need of deload. With proper training intensity, not junk volume, enough rest days… I’d argue a actual deload week isn’t really needed.
What we do need to consider though, is someone’s recovery outside the gym. Low nutrient quality, prolonged calorie deficit, stress perception, poor sleep, exam week at school etc. all could be ways recovery in the gym is impacted, thus leading you to that exhaustion face.
This is why recovery is ranked of equal importance alongside training and nutrition.
If I do implement a deload, there’s a million ways to do it based off the athlete. I usually will pull back 1 set and instruct my client not to train over an RPE 7. Or we keep load high and just drop volume. And sometimes, they just need 3-4 days off in a row of active recovery.
TLDR: most don’t work hard enough to need a deload (which is a good thing), but sometimes life has other plans.