Deloading is a period of time, typically about a week, where you back off from the hard-charging training routine and perform easy to moderate training to allow your body to reset and recharge as a whole and combat total body fatigue. This allows for both Active Recovery and allows you to still train nerve pathways that make your body move.
There are a lot of lines of thought on deloading. But, the common consensus is yes, you should deload, the real question really comes down to how.
If you look at people like John Welbourne or Greg Doucett. They will often discuss not planning in deloads, due to life often forcing you to take longer periods off.
Or if you look at the opposite side of the spectrum, like Pavel Tsatsouline, you see him programming in deloads as often as every 3 weeks.
The only real way to look at this enigmatic world of fitness is through a common-sense view.
Why do we deload?
Because there is more than just muscles that have to repair when broken down, like tendons, that take much longer to heal. Not to mention the mental strain of hard training. All of this accumulating, along with muscles not having a chance to fully recover can become what is called total body fatigue, which is a nice way of saying that you just trashed your body.
So, shouldn’t I just deload more frequently like Pavel says?
You can, Pavel is something of a legend, but if you are not actually fatigued, you are just losing time in the gym.
Say that you actually need a deload every 7 weeks. That would give you total of 1.5 months of missed training in the year. That’s ok, if you are getting recovery out of it. But, if you only need that break every 7 weeks, but instead you take off a week every 3 weeks. You missed 3 total months of training. 1.5 months of that you could have been getting better.
So, with that in mind. I would recommend only planning a deload once you know your own body’s recovery time for the specific training you are doing. I.E. you always get injured on the 7th week of training, so you might want to plan a deload week on the 5th or 6th week.
The other option is to keep training until you start feeling a loss of motivation or an increased amount of body tiredness. Then take some time off.
Might you get injured in the process?
But, you will be learning a lot about your body in the process. And, missing a couple of months one year because you overdid it, will be worth it if you are saving your self 1.5 months every year for the next decade in missed training.
It’s always about the long game.