De-loading is a training principle that has been used for decades, but is highly under utilised in today’s fitness industry. De-loading is a recovery principle to overcome training plateaus whereby you reduce training volume, or intensity, in order to bounce back stronger. This is a particularly useful tool if you are injured, stressed, or noticing that you are not progressing towards your desired results.
Work + rest = success
Exercise is catabolic, meaning it breaks down the tissue of the body and creates a stress response. Too much intense exercise, or more accurately, not enough recovery will equate to a rate of breakdown that is greater then the rate of repair. The rate of recovery must be greater than the breakdown from exercise, in order to adapt.
Reduce the volume and or intensity of your session
Do it for at least a week, ideally slightly more
Don’t stop training in this time, continue moving
Practice active recovery
De-loading means taking the foot off the accelerator, and pulling back to either lift lighter, train for less time or less often, and with less heart rate intensity. A day is not long enough, nor is a few days. To get the biggest bang from your de-load buck, do it for at least a week and actively work on health building practices in this time. Time heals, and allows your body a chance to rest and repair, but your body cannot repair without great movement, hydration, nutrition, sleep and recovery.
A de-load week doesn’t mean sitting in front of the TV. It means continuing training in a way that promotes health. Use the time you would have spent training to engage in practices that will help boost your health. This might include more recovery based sessions that feature intelligent movement strategies like mobilisers, ground to standing practices, breathing practices, fascial freeing or vibration training. In order to build health, you must provide your body with opportunities to reduce stress, pump fluids, stimulate the entire system in a non-intense way.
Staying active during your de-load week keeps you on track mentally in terms of feeling that you are progressing. One of the biggest challenges most active people face, is stopping exercise. Mentally and emotionally it can be hard to take a week out of your routine, and to convince yourself that you are actually gaining more, from doing less.
Stress = recovery = positive adaptation
A de-load week is a fantastic opportunity for you to make really positive gains in your health and fitness. We encourage you to try it a few times a year for optimum health.