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Question: “I have heard that when training heavy you should include a deload phase… Can someone explain how you would implement this into your program?”
When to integrate a de-load week into your training program depends first and foremost on your training maturity. Trainees with a lower training maturity can train for a longer period of time (i.e. consecutive weeks), whereas trainees with a higher training maturity can general train for much shorter periods of time before needing a de-load week. There are really two general ways that you can apply the de-load principle to your training:
a. You can de-load all lifts in the same week (i.e. a de-load week)
b. You can cycle the weeks or alternate which lifts or bodyparts you de-load each week.
There are certainly many factors that play into the timing of the de-load (i.e. training maturity, nutrition, sleep, volume of training, intensity of training). However, in general athletes with a low training maturity should not go more than 10-12 weeks without a de-load and athletes with a high training maturity usually need a de-load after 4-6 weeks. Also, movements that highly CNS intensive (i.e. Olympic lifts, ground-based lower body movements, movements above 85% intensity, etc.) need to be de-loaded more than movements that are not. I de-load lower body more often than I do upper body.
I prefer to de-load after 6-8 weeks for an entire week early in my training season and then after 4-6 weeks for an entire week as the intensity gets to the medium range. In my peaking cycle I de-load all major movements after 8 weeks, but I also de-load the CNS intensive movements after 4-6 weeks throughout the cycle.
These are not hard and fast rules. Each athlete will have to learn from experience in training, get to know his or her own body and adjust training accordingly.
-Bryan Dermody, powerlifter