To De - Load or Not To De - Load?
The term De - Load has become a very popular in the last decade within the strength training community. Basically, it means taking a slight break from / backing off from, the rigors of regular training for a period of time, usually just before a major competition.
In swimming, they have been using the term Taper for many years, to describe pretty much the same thing.
In simple terms, just ease off a bit. How much will vary from lifter to lifter.
It's a no brainer for anyone with some degree of experience training for a strength sport, or any sport for that matter, that one has to ease off a bit before a major competition to be fully rested and fresh to perform on the day. But do we really need to have regular deloads throughout the yearly calendar not linked to any major competition?
To put it bluntly, I think it is ridiculous for anyone past the beginning stage of training and competing to schedule regular deloads into their program [apart from the obvious pre competition Taper]. Let me explain why.
Let’s say the average strength athlete starts deloading 2 weeks before a meet, a lot start at 3 weeks, especially if they are bigger lifters but for this example, we will stick with 2 weeks. After that, it usually takes a week or two to start feeling completely normal and back into the groove once again. If the athlete competes 3 times in the year, this is up to 12 weeks already where the athlete is deloading.
That's 3 months GONE already.
That's 3 months were the athlete is not working to bring up weak / lagging areas to improve the sport performance.
I think a far better way to go about it is to take a day or a few days off, whenever it is felt necessary.
During this time off it is very beneficial to keep moving, maybe go to the local pool and do some laps, take some
extra walks, play some touch footy with the kids, get some massage work done, etc. just keep moving, I find it has
really helped my recovery, especially from injuries.
Maybe a whole week might be necessary in some cases, such as sickness, and lack of sleep for a prolonged period of time.
One thing getting older has taught me [I have been Powerlifting for nearly 30 years] is that one has to know when to back off as one just simply cannot go balls to the wall all the time.
Backing off when necessary, and going a bit harder when the body feels ready, is basically listening to your body.
Listen to your body, be smart with your efforts in the gym, get plenty of rest and watch your performance sky rocket.
Note – Always see your doctor before commencing a physical training program