Deload. Taper. Unload. Backoff. Rest. Whatever you want to call it, it’s never a fun week. As athletes we don’t only grow and get stronger in the gym. We also progress when we recover. A deload is a planned week for resting and recovering, in order to come back that much stronger. 

 

I knew before I started my training cycle that I would have six weeks to train as hard as I could, and one week where I could lighten the load, avoid overtraining, and get some extra time to recover. That week has arrived.

 

 

What Is a Deload? 

Deload is not a time to slack off, watch reruns of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and eat bags of Sour Patch Kids until my dentist disowns me. It’s also not a time to psych myself up at the gym or play a pick-up game of rugby. Much like my feelings about squats, deloading is a love-hate relationship. You have to do it if you want to makes gains and be successful in the long term, as your body definitely appreciates the break. But when you’re so used to loading up bars and politely moving heavy weights, backing off the weights for a whole week is easier said than done.

 

I love challenging myself in the gym, which is the real reason I go every day. But during deload week, I keep my lifts under 80% of my training max, cut my daily heavy single, and chop the volume in half. I typically cut the reps in half and keep the sets the same, since when I compete I only get one chance on every lift. One first attempt on all three lifts, it doesn’t matter if I have another left in the tank. For that reason, I'd rather practice six first attempts with singles than get three first reps performing doubles.

 

"During deload week, I keep my lifts under 80% of my training max, cut my daily heavy single, and chop the volume in half."

Recovery

Deloading is all about recovering, so I also take measures to get extra recovery in this week. I find foam rolling a few times a day, stretching and going to yoga, getting deep-tissue massages, and the prioritizing proper sleep and nutrition are great ways to recover. Those deep-tissue massages hurt like hell, but you definitely feel like a whole new person after getting them.

 

The last part of the deload week is mental. Deload teaches you to respect the process and not challenge the body more than you know you should. As I mentioned before, it’s hard to go to the gym and lift lighter weights. It takes a lot of discipline and you don’t feel like you accomplish anything, since you barely break a sweat. But guess what? After being antsy inside and outside of the gym for a whole week, it’s time to crush some heavy weights. Deloading is always a self-motivator, as I come back to the gym that much hungrier, ready to squat, lock, and drop it.

 

Here’s my meat and potatoes, boring but body-friendly:

 

Monday 

Squat (Heavy)

Bar x 10 (2 sets)

95 x 5

135 x 5

185 x 3

225 x 2 (4 working sets @ 80%)  

 

Bench (Maintenance)

Bar x 10

95 x 5

135 x 5

175 x 1 (5 working sets @ 80%)    

 

Deadlifts (Technique/Speed)

135 x 5 (2 warm-up sets)

205 x 1 (5 sets, 20 second rest intervals @ 60%)                                                                      

Tuesday 

Bench (3-second pause on chest)

Bar x 10

95 x 5

135 x 5

160 x 2 (5 working sets @ 75%)

 

Squat (2-second pause in the hole)

Bar x 10 (2 sets)

135 x 5

170 x 2 (4 working sets @ 60%)

 

Seated Row

80 x 5

120 x 5

150 x 2

175 x 2 (6 working sets)

 

Wednesday 

Yoga

 

Thursday 

Deadlift (Heavy)

135 x 5 (2 warm-up sets)

240 x 1 (3 working sets @ 70%)

 

Bench (Floor Press)

Bar x 10

95 x 5

135 x 5

160 x 2 (4 working sets @ 75%)

 

Squat (Reps)

Bar x 10 (2 sets)

95 x 5

135 x 5

160x 8 (2 working sets)

 

Friday 

Yoga

 

Saturday

Bench (Pin Press)

Bar x 10

95 x 5

135 x 5

170 x 1 (3 working sets @ 80%)

 

Squat (Goblet Squats)

35 x 10 (2 sets)

55 x 5

80x5 (3 working sets)

 

Bent-over Row

95 x 5

135 x 5

185 x 1 (5 working sets)

 

Sunday

Rest

 

No extra days of practice this week, just lots and lots of rest. I was able to stay sane throughout my deload, which is always nice as I feel like a lazy piece of friend when I’m not challenging myself. I’m ready to get back in the gym and squat, bench, and deadlift like there’s no tomorrow. Next week will definitely be a lot more fun, but this week was very rewarding. Stay active!

 

Ryan Seaver is a novice powerlifter who found his love for the sport after six years of going to the gym religiously. Follow Ryan's journals to learn how to get started as a competitive lifter.

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