Deloading 101

Why you should deload

One of the biggest mistakes I see most high school and college athletes make is NOT DELOADING. Up until about a year ago, I too once made the mistake of not deloading. Deloading wasn’t in my vocabulary because I always wanted to hit the iron hard and move some heavy ass weight. Little did I know the importance of deloading and the implications it would have on my future performance in the weight room and on the baseball diamond.  In a nutshell deloading is taking a step back from your normal training and instead to focus on RECOVRY.

As athletes our number one goal other than improved performance is injury prevention and staying healthy. Deloading allows you to recover from the rigors of your sport and heavy training.  I understand you may be tempted to lift heavy week in and week out, believe me I know the feeling. When you’re young and have all the testosterone in the world you feel like you never have to take it easy and that backing off is not an option. Remember training smart is the key to long term success and optimal performance.

Lastly, by deloading regularly, you will stay fresh and motivated and hungry to achieve your goals. By the middle to end of the deload week you can’t wait until next week where you can get back to moving heavy ass weight.

When to deload

There are no written rules of when to deload but it’s important to listen to your body. If you’re feeling banged up or are suffering some symptoms of overtraining deloading is a must. Otherwise, it is a good idea to scheduale deload weeks into your training. Beginners can go longer before they deload, typically 6-8 weeks. More advanced athletes should deload every fourth week or however they see fit. As you get to know your body you will know when you need to deload.

How to deload

There are a few different ways to structure a deload week. I aim for 3 deload workouts a week with 1-2 extra days consisting of soft tissue work, prehab/rehab and mobility work. Workouts are usually full body and between 20-30 minutes tops. We usually keep everything as a circuit to keep things moving.  Athletes will perform as many rounds as possible in a given time, usually 20 minutes. After some exercises and in between circuits, my athletes will roll out with the foam roller perform mobility work for the hips or a rotator cuff series. The key is RECOVERY.

For beginner or new athletes we will have them perform their main lifts with 50% of their 1RM. We will also cut the volume in half and keep everything sub maximal. The reason why we have them keep the bar ON their back and in their hands is because they are very raw and they need the volume to work on their technique. Strength is a skill and great technique is a MUST for future progress and health.  The rest of the workout will be their typical assistance exercises with bodyweight, kettlebells, dumbbells, sandbags and other odd objects. We will modify the intensity (% of 1RM) and volume (amount of sets). Again this is a great time to work on technique and really focus on perfecting each movement.

Here is a sample deload workout for a beginner high school athlete:  *Each exercise will stop BEFORE technique breaks down. Always keep it sub max.*

1)      Free Squat-3 X 5 (50% of 1RM)

2A) Pushups

2B) Pull-ups/recline rows

2C) Band Face pulls

2D) Walking Lunges

2E) Back Extension

2F)Light sled dragging/prowler

For more advanced athletes, we will take the bar off their back and out of their hands. Instead I am a huge advocate of sub maximal bodyweight exercises and light dumbbell and kettlebell work.

Here is a sample deload workout for a advanced high school/college athlete:

1A) Stability ball DB Bench Press- x 12

1B) Gymnastic rings recline row- x 12

1C) Bulgarian split squats- x 10-15 each leg

1D) Glut Ham Raise x 10-15

1E) Band pull aparts- 15-25

1F) Sled drags/prowler-1 trip

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