Deload =/= Week Off

Readers, this is my first deload week of the new program, and it feels good. First and foremost, it means my training has been consistent – I’ve made it to the end of a six-week cycle uninterrupted (or, perhaps, undeterred) by life’s ever-churning chaos. Second, I was getting pretty tired. The recovery is very much in order.

For the uninitiated, deloading (or, as Chris Moore strongly insists, “unloading”) is when you temporarily decrease your training demand (usually for about a week) to allow your body to recover. This allows you to come back and hit it hard all over again, refreshed and repaired. If you fail to observe these little periods of respite, the trauma starts to stack up a little too high and you succumb to the much-dreaded “overtraining” effect (which is to say you feel like garbage and start getting weaker).

What deloading looks like might depend on who you ask. Some people just drop a bunch of volume (by doing fewer sets or reps), some people will also drop the weight down (or do easier strength progressions if they’re working with bodyweight movements), but the point is to continue to practice the movements without going at it quite so hard.

How often you deload is also pretty individual. It will have a lot to do with the type of training you’re doing, how many years you have behind you (both training years and chronological years), how fine-tuned your lifestyle is, how hard you’re training, and probably a whole bunch of other factors. The basic model for linear strength training is to tone it down every fourth week or so. I’m doing it right now on the sixth week of my program. You’ve just got to pay attention to how you feel. It’s okay to push yourself to a place where you’re starting to feel a bit tired and achey, but those signs might indicate a deload is in order in your near future.

Anyway, the point of this little post was to share a lesson I learned over the last year: a deload week is no excuse to skip a bunch of training sessions. You still need to show up and put in the work (albeit, much less of it).

In fact, as embarrassing as this is to admit, this is one of the first real deload weeks I’ve actually taken. In the past, I’ve found it very easy to just skip or “reschedule” training sessions during deloads when things get busy since, you know, they’re JUST deload workouts. But doing that undermines the consistency we’re trying to establish in our training! (Not to mention that you will very likely slip a little farther back in strength after a week of doing nothing than if you deloaded properly.)

So, if you’re consistently training hard but not deloading every few weeks, start doing that. You’ll likely find those coveted gainz will start rolling in a bit faster. And if you’re not taking your deloads seriously, start doing THAT! They are as important a training week as any other.

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The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Workweek and Lifestyle Design Blog

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