It might seem counter-intuitive that taking time away from the gym would assist you in building more muscle over the long term, but that’s exactly what a deload can help you accomplish.
I. What is a deload?
A scheduled break that is taken from your regular training program as a way to fully rest and recuperate from your previous training cycle. This can either involve a reduction in workout volume and/or training intensity or taking a period of time off from the gym altogether.
II. Benefits Of Deloading
1. Gives your central nervous system, joints and muscles a chance to fully recover from all the previous weeks of hard training you’ve put in. Intense resistance training is fairly stressful on the body as a whole. So, regular downtime is a good idea.
2. Has psychological benefits, allowing you to relax and mentally re-charge. Consistent hard training doesn’t just stress your body — accumulated mental fatigue can be equally as draining.
3. Well-timed breaks following regular training cycles has shown to have a direct positive effect when it comes to maximizing your muscle building potential over the long-term.
III. How To Deload Effectively
1. Active recovery: reduce load or training intensity by 50%, while keeping training days, reps, sets the same.
2. Discontinue weight training altogether: simply take a total break for the gym. This is what I do.
IV. How often & how long should I deload?
Deloads can last 1–2 weeks and done every 6–12 weeks of training, depending on the individual and how close you are to hitting the wall.