• 7 – 10 April 2022
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23 November 2021, by Starmühler

When muscles need a break

Regeneration time is just as important for building muscles as is providing stimulus. A deload can prove especially effective here. This is how it works.

A training relief period also referred to as deload can be one of the most effective recovery methods for your muscles – especially when you feel your performance is stagnating despite training. A deload is usually scheduled for a week and is a period in which either the frequency of exercise, the weight or intensity of training units is deliberately reduced. This period can also be used for a complete training break.

 

How often should a deload be used?

It is recommended to take a time out every four to six weeks between training cycles. For some athletes a deload probably only makes sense after some three months. The aim to reduce the overall burden on the body allowing the body to rest and recover is that it fully performs again during the following training cycle and can lift heavy weights. At the end of a deload period you should already be longing for exercise and feel ready to go full speed ahead.

 

When does a deload make sense?

The general rule is: the deload should ideally be timed to be in line with your way of life and individual body feeling. If your body already feels exhausted after four weeks of training, it should be given a break to recover. Or: if you have planned a vacation the deload can be scheduled for that time.

German professional natural bodybuilder Patrick Teutsch shares his knowledge about deloading amongst other things on Instagram and explains that during a deload phase you can also stop training completely rather than just reducing intensity. This can, he explains, make sense in the event of an injury or if certain aches and pains have intensified or a group of muscles requires special regeneration. “And it can also be necessary to stop training for organisational reasons at times,” he stresses.

 

Which types of deload are possible?

There are various possibilities for a pro-active deload. It is primarily designed to give your body time to regenerate and reduce training stress. This works either with lifting lighter weights, reducing the exercise volume, i.e. exercise less frequently, or reducing intensity – exercise the units in a lighter way. Patrick Teutsch lays out these three options in detail:

 

1.Volume reduction:

Reducing volume means completing fewer units during the deload week. Weights remain unchanged so training stimulus remains effective; this means there is no “weaning effect” of the working weight. Alternatively, you can opt for an additional minimisation of intensity, if two or three possible repetitions are left as a reserve towards the end – the area therefore remains purposeful for stimulation although regeneration needs are reduced at the same time. Bodybuilder Patrick Teutsch views this type of deload as the most effective for muscle recovery.

 2. Weight reduction:

Another option is to reduce training weight by approximately 50–60 %, while maintaining the volume/number of training sessions. With this alternative, however, it is difficult to stimulate the muscles, says Patrick Teutsch. Unless you are close to muscle failure, but then you are in a repetition range you don't normally train in and change your training style for that one week. According to Teutsch, this makes most sense if you intend to hone in on your technique and above all want to concentrate on this during that week.

3. Intensity reduction:

If you reduce the training intensity during the deload week you virtually leave some possible repetitions “in store”, weights and volumes remain unchanged here. However, regeneration demand is only reduced negligibly here and there is hardly any training stimulus either. This option is therefore the least effective one according to Patrick Teutsch.

 

Other options

A deload week can also be used to add variety to your training routine. Instead of weight lifting you could focus solely on cardio during this time and use an ergometer unit every other day.

Patrick Teutsch’s tip: “It also makes sense to use the deload week for incorporating new exercises into your routine. This means you can already get used to them before going “full steam ahead”.