Deloading: 7 important days of ‘active rest’


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A deload week is like car insurance; everyone needs to have it and you don’t want to wait until it’s too late to get it.

Not to be confused with rest days, which are small breaks in your workout routine, a deload week is seven days of “active rest.” It is a way for frequent weightlifters to give themselves a mental and physical break without staying away from the gym completely and having their lifts take a hit.

According to certified strength and conditioning specialist Tony Gentilcore, deload weeks should be three sets of five reps for each exercise at approximately 40% to 60% of your one-rep max.

“The intent is to preserve the neuromuscular pathways of lifting without actually breaking down muscle,” says Gentilcores, who recommends that deload weeks be taken once every four weeks and scheduled beforehand.

There are several reasons why you would want to deload:

  • Your lifts have been getting weaker
  • To recover from a strenuous one rep maximum
  • To recover from a weightlifting meet or competition
  • To rest sore joins or muscles

Others, like personal trainer and Breakingmuscle.com contributor Mike Samuels, offer different approaches to deloading, such as decreasing the amount of reps instead of weight and changing up your routine with different lightweight exercises. Although these approaches are less common, they maintain the central idea of decreasing your workload.

Remember: Resist the temptation to bust out a bunch of reps with the lighter weight! Deload weeks are a necessary time of rest for your body, don't mess it up.