Yes, you read that right!
We just wrapped up another successful 9 week strength cycle and as we’ve grown accustomed to, are now heading into a deload week. But why? What is the importance of a deload week? It’s a common question and a common wonder. It’s essential to understand the ‘why’ and ‘what’ towards the purpose of deloading. We all can easily understand the concept of a rest day. It’s almost instinctual to take a rest day. But consistent training eventually builds a deficit that cannot be repaid in one single rest day. This, is exactly why, it is critical to expand the concept of a “rest day” to a “rest week” especially and immediately following a prolonged period of dedicated training.
A deload week allows your body and mind to catch up. Muscle can recover more quickly than connective tissue. A deload week keeps tendons and ligaments healthy. Deload weeks don’t mean ‘Netflix and Chill’ (though they can if that’s what your body needs), they’re more of an adjustment to your training that aims to produce longevity and injury prevention heading into your next strength cycle. The incorporation of tempos, pauses, low percentage lifting, stabilization, accessory, and midline specific exercises forces the body to correct imbalances, improve mobility, and protect against injury and overtraining.
For many, the urge to go heavy constantly can reign superior and result in a complete forfeit of a deload week entirely. This will often lead to missed success or accomplishment in a cycle to follow. That’s why it’s so important to commit to a deload week with the same gumption you would a 1 rep max week.
Here’s the disconnect: you don’t get stronger by lifting weight only. You get stronger by RECOVERING from lifting weights.
The basis of exercise physiology is this:
- Provide a stimulus: strength train
- Remove the stimulus and insert REST
- Acquire adaption to better handle the stimulus: if you once squatted 300#, you now can handle squatting 305#. This is called supercompensation.
We all recognize the importance of Step #1. You wouldn’t be at TCR if you didn’t.
We all recognize the thrill of Step #3.
But! Step #2 often goes neglected, even though it’s equally as crucial! It’s crucial to your well being, the health of your physical being, and your growth overall.
What happens when you neglect Step #2? A never-ending stimulus (unceasing exercise) doesn’t make you better. It can make you worse. It digs your body into a hole that keeps getting deeper. This is called overtraining.
We thoroughly take this into consideration in not just one way but two. We intentional program a deload week following every strength cycle but also during our 7 day phases with an intentional break from the barbell with our TCR 360 (soon to be TCR Fuel) classes.
Furthermore, a deload week is not an excuse to derail your nutrition. In fact, it’s the prime time to shift your focus to that area, fine tune it, and give it the attention it so often lacks due to an often greater emphasis on what is happening IN the gym during cycles. Also, proper nutrition will provide your body with the quality fuel it needs to repair and reset. Keeping your normal workout schedule as well as quality nutrition (or a heighten focus on nutrition at the very least) during a deload week can help keep your routine intact.
Deload weeks aid in recovery, physically and mentally. Recovery is not just the absence of training; it is a key element of strength building!