Q: You used to talk about taking a reload week after every four weeks of hard training. Do you still subscribe to that? I use the fifth week to do low-intensity workouts to insure full recovery, then I go back to intense ones for four more weeks. Works great.
A: I do still like the deload strategy a lot—a week of lower-intensity workouts—but I don’t recommend smoking a cigar during your workouts (as in the photo)…
Unfortunately, my personality makes it hard for me to follow it as precisely as you do…
It’s hard for me to back off when training feels good, motivation is high, and everything appears to be going well…
In my case, I keep training hard until I hit the “dread zone.” That’s simply not wanting to train—dreading the impending workout.
When that happens, which is usually every six weeks or so, I take a few workouts off—no training until I regain my motivation.
The deload week—either low-intensity workouts or complete rest—works well because stress is cumulative.
According to Dr. Hans Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome, repeated stress, like intense weight training, takes your body through three response levels:
1) Alarm. During the first one to two weeks, your body begins adjusting its defenses as it prepares to compensate for the new stress.
2) Resistance. During weeks three to four your body actually adapts to the stress by getting bigger.
3) Exhaustion. At about week five or six your body hits a wall, or plateau, and your gains stall.
So exhaustion is when overtraining sets in and regression can occur…
So, yes, a deload week can do wonders to keep your mass gains on an upward trajectory—but save the stogies for after the workout.
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