Deloading is the concept of a deliberately scheduled ‘back off’ phase in your training programme.
The necessity for such a deload phase (usually a week - hence ‘deload week’) is subject of intense debate within the fitness world.
Some claim that it is absolutely vital, whilst others argue that it is a total waste of time. Like so many things, the real answer is “it depends” - so let’s see what that means for you.
Do you find that your training routine allows you to progress towards your goals at your desired rate, and yet also gives you sufficient time to recover?
If yes - then maybe deloading isn’t necessary for you.
For athletes who don’t have sufficient recovery in their day to day programme, then a deload week every 6-8 weeks could be an excellent addition.
However, even if you do recover well, a deload could still be beneficial and would be needed less often than someone who doesn’t have sufficient recovery 'built-in' their programme.
Here are some reasons to consider a deload phase:
Deload phases takes the ‘rest day’ concept even further Unlike rest days, you'll still train, but at a lower itensity. This has the advantage of maintaining the mental benefits of training, whilst reducing the physical stress. In other words, you still feel like you are ‘doing something’, but your body has a better chance to repair and come back stronger.
Many athletes are scared of deloading, they fear it will negatively impact their performance, and hamper their ability to achieve their goals.
However, an occasional deloading phase can improve performance. It isn’t always immediately obvious that over-training is having a negative effect - it takes time to build and accumulates over time, creeping up on you.
Try a deloading phase, and if after a week you observe an increase in performance, then you know that you were in need of it and that it should become a permanent fixture in your schedule.
Even if you insist that you don’t need a deload week to recover or repair - how about taking some time to focus on technique? Dedicating a period of time to get your tekkers nailed at a lower intensity can have massive benefits in the long term.
Injury Prevention and Rehab
We’ve all trained through niggles. Some of us have them constantly! If we keep going and going, without giving these niggles a chance to repair, they can and will become chronic injuries, and well...injuries really suck!
Taking a week to zone in on technique, allow repair, and recover from intensive training might seem inconvenient or frustrating at the time, but it’s a whole lot better than having bad injuries later down the line!
In the end, the decision is yours, but I’d encourage you to give it a go.
At best you discover that it’s really beneficial and contrary to what you thought before it actuallyimproves your performance and ismore valuable than that same week would have been training at high intensity.
At worst you discover that it’s not for you and you’ve answered that question and put it to bed. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
However, if you do schedule a deload - do not treat it as an opportunity to do nothing, eat rubbish and lose sight of your goals. The idea is to keep everything else the same as before - nutrition, sleep etc. - but training is at a lower intensity, and with a focus on technique.
True beasts look at the whole picture and allow themselves time to rest, recover and grow.