Deload Definition – Everything You Need To Know About Deloads!

March 21, 2022 0 Comments


In this article I will be outlining a clear deload definition and providing all the information that you would ever need to know about deloads. Deloads are very useful as a training tool for many reasons. I will be explaining the reasons why they are beneficial later in this article. 

What Is A Deload?

A deload is simply a period of training where you back off the volume and/or intensity of your workouts. This will typically mean reducing the weights you are using by 30-50% and lowering the overall volume. Deloads tend to be programmed once a month or once every two months.

A deload will generally range from a single day to an entire week. It is very rare to see longer periods of time allocated towards a deload. 


Different Types Of Deload

There are three types of deloads that are generally considered in a training block. One deload would be taking an entire week off from training. I am not a fan of this approach personally as I believe you can easily lose momentum in your training and get out of the groove. 

When it comes to lifting weights “greasing the groove” is very important. Therefore taking an entire week off without any form of weights is counter-productive in my view and can decondition you a little bit. 

The second type of deload is a typical deload. This is what I personally like to use when deloading. Essentially what you would do is to back off both the volume and intensity of your workout. Using lighter weights that are around 60% of the weights you are used to handling, as well as reducing the number of sets per exercise. This is the sweet spot in my view and allows you to still practice all the movements, whilst at the same time serving as a form of active recovery and reducing overall fatigue on the CNS (Central Nervous System).

The third type of deloading that is common is known as ‘tapering’. This is particularly prevalent in powerlifting communities in the lead up to a powerlifting meet. What this essentially involves is keeping the intensity of your workouts high but lowering overall volume and backing off from accessory work. This way you are practicing the compound movements with heavy weight and not hindering your recovery. This is optimal right before a powerlifting meet where your intention will be to lift the heaviest weights possible in the squat, bench and deadlift.

Benefits Of Deloads In Your Training?

The main benefit of deloads in your training is to reduce overall fatigue that may be building up and also to improve your recovery. Lifting heavy weights regularly can be taxing on your CNS over a period of time and an accumulation in fatigue can end up harming your progress in the long run. 

By using deloads intelligently you can manage fatigue and continue to make progress long term without long periods of plateaus in your training. You can also lower the risks of injuries by doing this. Overuse injuries are very common when it comes to lifting weights, by allocating small blocks of time for deloads you are allowing your body to heal up better and reducing injury risks. 

benefits of deloads

How Often Should You Deload?

There are different schools of though when it comes to this question. I have already mentioned earlier in this article that a deload every one or two months works optimally for me. Many other people also subscribe to this school of thought. Personally I don’t believe in deloading excessively as you can easily set back your progress and fall into the trap of laziness. 

If you are deloading for two weeks every month for instance, then you are harming your progress in the gym drastically and will make sub optimal progress. It is important also to mention that beginners should not be incorporating deloads into their training. Deloads are best suited for intermediate or advanced trainees who have been lifting weights for at least a couple of years. 

In addition, you can use the ‘play it by ear’ approach when it comes to deloading. There are times when your body may be very run down and you have a bad cold. In cases like this it can be counter-productive to go to the gym and go balls to the wall with your normal high intensity and high volume training approach. 

When I am feeling really run down and have a bad cold or flu, I will set a deload workout into my training. This will be one workout where I continue to perform the same movements, but I back off the volume and intensity. This acts as a form of active recovery, I am not taxing my body too much but I am still acclimating myself to the movements and getting blood flowing into the muscles. 

I believe this is the best way to go – a combination of playing it by ear and strict programmed deloads once every month or two. Remember that deloads are designed for lifters in the intermediate and advanced stages of their training! This is an important distinction.

how often to deload?


To conclude, in this article I have outlined a deload definition and given you all the information you need to know about deloads. Deloading is a controversial topic as there are so many differing viewpoints. Every lifter has their own opinion about it. 

In this article I have pooled together all the common viewpoints and provided the information that I feel gives you all the insights you need to make an informed decision about how to approach deloads in your own training. To re-iterate, I perform deloads once every two months. However in extenuating circumstances where I am feeling very run down with a flu, I will program in a deload workout on the fly as a means of active recovery.

Deloading in general is not seen as a very “macho” thing to do by many in the lifting community. The mantra that you will often here is “no pain no gain”. Whilst it is true that you should push yourself hard in your training and induce progressive overload, programming in deloads at smart times will serve to improve your overall progress in the gym in the long run.

I would love to know your thoughts about deloads – please let me know in the comments what your views are on this topic. It helps me to interact with you further if you leave comments and allows me to know what your thoughts are.

As always, stay safe and enjoy your workouts!

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