Monday 21 December 2015

The 3 biggest misconceptions about deloads

Deloading is a beneficial strategy to improve recovery, sometimes boost performance, reduce the likelihood of developing injuries and improve mental focus. Some people get anxious about including deloads and may not want to do them at all because they have made assumptions about them. This is especially true of people who are not used to deloading. Fortunately these assumptions simply aren't true. In this blog post I will discuss the three biggest misconceptions about deloads.

Number 1
- Muscle Loss

Some people think they may lose muscle if they don't train at full intensity or with the same volume of training they are used to. This isn't true because deloads generally only last for around one week and the amount of atrophy that can occur in that time period is negligible or perhaps nil. And we of course need to mention that during a deload we are actually still training (with low loads and training volumes). By continuing to train at low loads/volumes we are allowing to recovery processes to occur but we are maintaining all or most of our adaptations. Funnily enough the people that are against deloading are often the same people who decide that every once in a while they need to take a week off the gym completely, and that whilst it's not going to have a huge impact, will produce more muscle atrophy than deloading will.

Number 2 - Mentally unable to perform the deload

This is not a misconception but it is something that I see and hear frequently. What I mean here is that some people just don't feel like they can go into the gym and train at a level below what they are accustomed to. They can't go into the gym and not give it their all because it doesn't feel right for them. This is fairly common and people need to realise that giving it your all sometimes just means carrying out the plan. Being dedicated is going in there, doing your job and being able to do that both when it is difficult and when it is easy. Deloads are supposed to be easy, that is the point. They promote recovery, hard training doesn't promote recovery. So for these people it's a good idea to firstly chill out (mentally), stay focused on the task, get it done, enjoy it and know that it's doing you good in the big picture.

Number 3 - "Training is going well, I don't need to deload"

In this section I need to cover two points:

(i) One of the reasons for including deloads into one's programming is that it serves as pre-hab. It's a pre-emptive strategy that helps to reduce the likelihood of developing injuries. We all have those little niggles that happen as a result of training every now and then. Sometimes all those things need to recover (or at least to not get worse) is a bit of time away from the constant pounding of heavy weights.

(ii) Another thing is that yes you may feel like training is going perfectly and you don't feel like you need to deload at all. But unless you are very experienced your "normal" might actually be under-recovered. You may be so used to training in a chronically under-recovered state that it just feels normal to you. This is more common than you'd think. It's not until some of that training stimulus is removed that we can begin to notice that we weren't as recovered as we thought and that the deload is actually beneficial.

That's it for this week. I hope you guys got something out of it. If you have anything to add to the discussion then please comment below or on facebook/instagram.

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- Evan


  1. Good article Evan! Will save an injury that's for sure, can't train at 100% all the time.

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