To always improve in the gym, the mindset remains that one should always train hard and be consistent. This is very true, however, there is a smart way of going about doing these two things.
The objective of any race is to of course win. In longer races, strategy comes into play on how one will be the first to cross to the finish line. In this, how you start off is somewhat important, but not the most important part of the race. In the process of running, keeping a good pace and knowing when to “let off the gas” is vital. What can happen if a person thinks they have to be the fastest throughout the entire race is burnout.
Training in the gym is no different. Going hard and being consistent is important, but strategy must come into play. Just like a runner, you must listen to your body and determine if “letting up” is needed to make sure you get to your goal (the finish line).
This is where deloading comes into play.
Deloading is for the athlete or gym goer that does not want to abandon training all together. Deloading is done when you feel like you have hit a wall in your training, especially when it comes to strength training and conditioning. Maybe your lifts have not improved much, or you just feel tired. It is very hard to give up the training when you have put so much time into it, so deloading is another strategy.
Deloading helps out with something else that is very important when it comes to training; the central nervous system. This is the route or “highway” your brain utilizes to send information to your muscles to move and work. Deloading does what is called “tapering” and allows for full recovery so the muscles are repaired and rested, and the central nervous system is cleaned up and ready to start sending those signals again!
To break down deloading, it is what the word implies. You are simply lowering or taking away the load of work you have been performing to a workload that is much lighter and manageable. Many times, people will lower their work weight as much as 50% all the way up to 80%!
So, if your rep and set scheme look like this for deadlifts or squats on a normal day:
5 sets of 8-12 reps working with weight between 225lbs-405lbs
Your deload program would maybe look like this:
2-3 sets of 15-25 reps working with weight between 135lbs-205lbs
You get the idea?
You can do this with virtually any isolated movement as well, but it seems to be the most popular approach with bigger compound movements since they are the most taxing on the body.
So, if you are in a funk and do not want to stay out of the gym, give yourself a week of deloading. Your body will thank you for it!