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How to do a Deload Week and Why It’s Necessary for Continued Progress!

How to do a Deload Week and Why It’s Necessary for Continued Progress!

The deload week is absolutely crucial for a trainee to have continued progress and keep busting through strength plateaus. Unfortunately though, this core concept of training is left undiscovered and unused.

I look back to when I first started training and I don’t even think I knew what a deload week was for my entire first year of training! Once I discovered better ways to train and began incorporating deloads, I began making more consistent gains in strength and size.

I’m sure that if I were doing this from the start, I would have made much faster progress and be farther than I am now!

That’s why I’m glad you’re here!  Whether you’re seriously trying to pack on mass or just consistently do some resistance training for its great benefits, this article is relevant to you!

As a trainer, I often do work with people that don’t want to build muscle and that’s fine! Eventually though, they all go through a deload week because their progress would still cease without it!


Why Deload

As stated above, deloads are crucial for continued progress. They are absolutely vital and should be programmed into your training program. They’re the original plateau busters and that’s the reason you want to utilize them!

Weight lifters (especially as they become more advanced), will and are constantly avoiding a state of overtraining. If you do become over trained, or more technically, enter a state of overreaching at the most benign level, progress will cease!

Deloads act as the necessary recovery period to allow the body to bounce back and avoid this state of overtraining for continued progress!


Deload Week vs. Off Week

Before I explain to you how to go throughout your deload week, I want to address this common question! Essentially, people just want to know the difference between deloading and an off week and why one is more beneficial over the other.

That’s a perfectly logical question! Especially considering most have an idea that deloading is a way to recover from hard weight lifting.

Let’s break it down.

The way we progress with normal weight lifting is through progressive overload. To keep it simple, it’s most commonly done by just adding more weight on the bar. What this does is creates stress on the body greater than it has previously experienced forcing it to adapt and become and bigger.

The same process happens when getting a sun tan. As you bask in the sun, the stress of the UV rays on your skin causes the skin to darken to better handle that stress for the next time.

In theory, when we are deloading, we will be doing something (in terms of intensity, volume, etc.) that the body has already experienced before, but at a capacity that allows the body to actively recover. This allows the trainee to maintain where they are at and recover at the same time!

If we were to completely take a week off, yes, this would allow us to recover in the same general way a deload week would. The problem is you may regress with your training which is formally know as “detraining”.

It typically takes a week+ to experience signs of detraining but a complete week off will make a difference that you will feel once going back to training. Therefore, a complete week off won’t be the best approach most of the time!


How to do a Deload Workout

Deload workouts are critical for continued progress in strength and size gains
Time to tackle this question!

There are actually many ways to deload. It just comes down to playing with certain variables in your training. Within this section, I’ll give you the way I know best which is simple and effective for me and my clients!

The first thing we need to know is how to determine the right time to deload!

How Often to Deload

Below I have laid out a rough rule of thumb that I have learned and observed through training as to when the trainee needs to deload based on training age (the training age is a rough estimate based on someone who has been doing proper training):

  • Beginning Trainees (6 – 10 months): Deload every 10 weeks
  • Intermediate Trainees (10 months – 4 years): Deload every 6 weeks
  • Advance Trainees (4 years – 6 Years): Deload every 4 weeks

Keep in mind everyone will be different. Training age is just one variable out of many although it is the biggest player!

Some other signs it may be ready to deload are:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Can’t get any stronger
  • Sluggish workouts

Typically, the biggest indicator is a sudden stop in progress but sometimes other variables such as a change in intensity, exercises, exercise order, etc. will keep progress coming without the need of a deload week.

Once you have identified when to deload, and I’d actually recommend programming them into your routine once you know what works for you, then you can put it into action!


For every workout during your deload week, lower the weight on all exercises by 15%. You will literally keep all other variables the same (sets, reps, rest time, workout duration, etc.).

If you need to see it visually it would look like this:

Pre-deload bench press weight: 135lb

135 x .15 = 20.25 (round to the nearest interval of 5)

135 – 20 = 115

Deload weight: 115

That’s it! Go throughout a full seven-day period and apply these principles to every workout you do within that time frame. Once the week’s up, you’ll be ready to lift hard again and continue setting PR’s!


Mistakes to Avoid

There are two mistakes that I see when deloading:

  • Ego Lifting – Chances are you won’t be lifting even heavier than would on a normal day, but sometimes one’s ego still creeps in now you’ve only lowered the weight by maybe 5%. This won’t be sufficiently low enough weight for a completely successful deload week.
  • Upping Other Variables – During a deload workout, you won’t feel like you are getting a super tough workout. This sometimes drives some to shorten the rest periods or do a few extra reps. This again will not lead to a successful deload week. All variables need to be the same!!


Final Thoughts

Follow this structure and you’ll have a successful deload week that will allow you to keep making progress! One thing to keep in mind too is that plateaus in strength and size might be the result of not enough change in your routine.

Having a qualified coach is nice so these things can be noticed but if you are riding solo like most lifters and are unfamiliar with incorporating deloads or just aren’t sure if it’s the right time, then change your routine in some way first. Then if there are no immediate changes, do a deload week.

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About Brennen Elboeck

I'm Brennen, the founder of I want to give hundreds of thousands of people science based, practical physique and life transforming information! To never miss a post or what's new make sure to sign up for our newsletter above!

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