Bodybuilding and weightlifting are very focused on building muscle by increasing your weights and progressing how much you can lift, but did you know that taking a break from working out will actually build more muscle?
That’s right, deloading is very important for bodybuilding, and without deloading here or there you will end up losing muscle in the long run.
But, many people are confused about when they should be deloading, and how often? So, should you deload every 4 weeks?
Well, it depends. If you workout nearly every day, work as hard as you can, that deload every 4 weeks may be necessary to keep up the muscle growth. Personally, I prefer my deloads to be every 8 weeks. But it all depends on the frequency and intensity of your workouts. The harder you go, the more frequent deloads should be. But, if you’re more relaxed in the gym, you should space it out more.
What IS Deloading?
Even if you are into working out and bodybuilding, you might’ve never heard about deloading, but what is deloading?
A deload is a period of time you decrease your weights and workout intensity to help your muscles recover and rest, this way, they will grow faster and increase your strength.
The idea is, your muscles have a hard enough time growing. When you have been working out for weeks to months on end, they fall behind. When you give them a solid week of no working out, but tons of food, they finally can grow and ‘catch up’ providing you with much more strength.
This technique is used by a lot of professional bodybuilders to get better results over time, keeping their body rested while continuing to workout.
How To Deload
If you decide to deload, the first thing to do is to pick a period of time when you are going to deload. For most people, a week is enough to give your muscles a break, usually, people decide to deload at the end of a training cycle.
So let’s say you are trained for 3 months and want to fully rest before entering your new training period, that’s when you deload.
For most people, a deload consists of lowering the weights in the gym to basically nothing, or much lower than what you usually do. For some people a good deload week consists of them not even going to the gym! A happy medium for most is lifting at 50% of what they normally do, with much lower intensity.
Now that you planned your deloading time and intensity, it’s time to start deloading, but deloading can get really uninteresting since you aren’t pushing yourself and increasing your weights, so what should I do during a deload to help it feel better?
What Should You Do During A Deloading Phase?
Diet and Nutrition
This is a time where you want your body to make a full recovery, so it’s not the best time to cut or perform your restrictive diet of choice.
During this period, eat your maintenance calories and eat your carbs and protein to help your body recover. Take this time to eat something you’ve been craving for some time, it’s only a week anyways.
Rest and Sleep
You need to rest so your body recovers faster. Make sure you are getting your 8 hours (or more) of quality sleeping time.
During this time, try not putting much stress on your body at all, so if you want to keep moving, try lighter exercises like 30-minute walks or riding your bike through the city.
Form and Technique
During your deload, you will be training and exercising with lighter weights, so take the opportunity to perfect your form and technique.
That’s a great time to learn since you won’t be making much effort at all, so you can focus on your form, something that will help you when going back to heavier weights, this way you avoid injury and also better target the muscle or muscle group you want.
What Are The Benefits of Deloading
Deloading shouldn’t make sense right? Somehow growing muscle by skipping the gym and eating a lot? But, there are a TON of benefits to deloading, let’s cover them.
Muscle Growth and Strength Progression
Taking that rest period will have a big impact on your future workouts, when you go back to your normal volume and intensity, you’ll be fully rested, and can find yourself having to increase the weights due to your body having time to fully rest and build more muscle.
Mental Side of Deloadings
Taking a break sometimes can be healthy, bodybuilding can be tough on your mental health too.
The amount of stress you are putting your body into, eating the same things every day to follow your diet, and even the lack of sleep for some can be really tough. So it’s good to take some time to rest and do things you enjoy while increasing and not worrying about your gains.
Planning and Self Awareness
During your deload phase, you’ll find yourself learning a lot about your body and your workout routines.
You can use this time to reflect about what are your objectives and goals and plan your bodybuilding career what are you doing right and what are you doing wrong.
Should You Deload and How Often?
If you’ve been training for some time now, chances are you benefit from a deload.
Usually, people who have been lifting for some time can use a deload every 4 weeks, so yes, if you are working out every week straight for at least a month, you should try to deload. And see if it works for you, the worst thing that could happen is you getting an extra free week that won’t impact negatively your gains.
Personally, I deload about every 8 weeks. But, it all depends on the intensity, how frequently you’re training, and your goals.
If you hit the gym as hard as you can nearly every day, you deserve that deload every 4-6 weeks.
But, if you’re kind of lighter with the intensity and only workout a few days a week, you may want to wait to do a deload every few months.
Deloading is a technique used by bodybuilders and weightlifters to fully recover their body, in this one-week period, they stop working out allowing their body to build muscle and fully recover.
Deloading phases can be used to perfect your form, experiment other exercises, and take some time to yourself. When deloading, try to eat at least your maintenance calories to increase muscle recovery and growth during this time, so if you are in the middle of a cut, give it a small break.