So…this topic has been a huge burden on me lately. I have been working my body so hard at the gym, and I know my neurological system is now fighting back against it. I know this because I get very shaky during or after some gym sessions, it takes longer for me to recover from my DOMS, I am constantly in a state of muscular fatigue, and I fail much earlier on my sets. If I go a day without some sort of exercise, I don’t feel relaxed, which is now becoming a problem. My boyfriend has been on my back lately, nagging me to have a week of deloading, and incorporate 3+ rest days into the week as well. Believe it or not (luckily, thanks to my hectic schedule this week), I have actually achieved a full week of proper deloading!!!!
So, what is deloading exactly? Deloading is a short, planned period of recover. This should happen after you begin to feel excessively sore, feel weak, after a race or event, or after 4-6 weeks of persistent overloading. This will allow your muscles to recover, optimize bone health, give your neurological system a break, and allow your body to again begin responding to the overloading stimuli that you are putting on it.
How do you deload?
- Reduce your weights to 40-60% of your 1Rm
- Reduce the amount of volume of your sessions. Ex. If you do 5×5 for heavy lifts, do 5×2
- Take 3-4 rest days in the week, especially to break up the sessions (I know this may be hard, but it is quite essential)
- Work on technique and form at lighter weights (this will allow you to still feel very productive, as it will help improve your lifts after the deload)
- Get distracted with other activities such as hiking (this will keep you feeling as if you’re still getting the stimuli you need, without overloading your body)
- Optimize protein and fat intake, and limit carbohydrates. This will allow you rbody to repair itself, and keep your appetitie down, so you don’t indulge (you’ll be expending less energy, so you don’t want to continue eating the same amount of calories, although you should still be in a surplus)
Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2016). Effects of resistance training frequency on measures of muscle hypertrophy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 1-9.
Singh, M. A. F. (2015). Exercise and Bone Health. In Nutrition and Bone Health (pp. 505-542). Springer New York.