Rethinking The De-load Week

Dustin Myers


To put it simply, a deload is a short period of planned recovery (usually 1-2 weeks) typically with lower volume and/or intensity.  While some people may look at a scheduled deload as a chance to train light or even take a break from the gym, I view the deload week as an opportunity to try some new things and experiment while still giving your joints and central nervous system a bit of a break.

Here are some of the most common ways to deload:

Intensity Deload

A normal intensity deload is probably the simplest method - simply reduce your poundages to 50-70% of your 1RM max and keep the reps relatively low, in the 6-10 range.  If that seems too light, you could always try keeping your weights the same but lower the number of reps to a lower intensity standpoint.  For example, If you can normally grind out 255 for 4 sets of 6 reps on bench press, still work up to 255 but only do 1 set at that weight and stop once the reps feel difficult at 3 or 4 rather than 6.

Volume Deload

A volume deload could mean any combination of reduction in the number of exercises, sets and reps.

You can decide whether or not to still go heavy but maybe drop your 5x5 to 5x2 or rather than 20 total sets on leg day spread out over 5 exercises, simply pick 3 exercises and do 3-4 low rep sets of each one.

So what are a few outside of the box ways to Deload?

Compound Deload

Big Compound movements - squat, deadlift, press variations, etc. - should be the foundation of your program.  However, getting under a heavy barbell week after week, year after year can lead to some wear and tear on the body.  Try going a week with only single joint movements -  pec deck and tricep cable press downs in place of bench and leg curls and extensions on leg day, for example, to give your joints a rest from the big weights you’ve been throwing around.

Barbell Deload

Similar to the compound deload, this style will keep all of your compound movements but will replace the typical form with a functional variation.  Swap out front squats for goblet squats, barbell bench for KB Press and replace t-bar rows with a sled row.  The intensity will be lower from a poundage standpoint but you will still work on building solid movement patterns and stabilizing strength.

Style Deload

Are you a powerlifter?  Take a week off from lifting and do nothing but yoga and bodyweight exercises.

An avid cross fitter?  Try training like a bodybuilder for a week.

Cardio fanatic?  Spend a week with no conditioning and just lift weights.

Sometimes this type of deload does more for your mental state than anything else.  It’s easy to get burned out in the gym, and I guarantee that a week away from your preferred style of training will lead to a renewed focus and enthusiasm when your deload week is over.

Dustin Uses the Max Effort Post Workout to Recover During De-Loads