Rest and Recover, Why You Need to Back Off

When exercising it's important to build in rest. You might feel like you're wasting time

"What's the purpose of a deload week? I feel like I'm wasting my time with an easy workout". A longtime client asked me this the other day. It dawned on me that I'd explained many concepts and applications to him but, I might've skipped this important step.

Deloading and How Much You Should Lift

The last thing you might think about when planning a new exercise program is all of the time you're going to spend taking it easy and resting. Rest is extremely important because it allows you to continue gaining new levels of fitness. Periodically it is important for you to add in something called a deload week.

A deload week is a structured interval of time where you still workout but you back-off a bit. It involves manipulating three kinds of loads:

  1. A Stimulating Load-One that you can lift, recover from and continue to experience fitness gains.
  2. A Maintenance Load-You won't get into better shape when you lift this but, you also won't get in any worse shape.
  3. A Detraining Load-A load that would actually cause you to get in worse shape over time.

For your purposes, you want to always aim for loads in the stimulating category and occasionally touch on some maintenance loads during deload weeks. It can be tricky to determine how much weight to use at times, there is one rule that's withstood the test of time.

The rule of 60 basically states that during a deload you should use no less than 60% of what you can lift. You can reduce load and/or volume or a combination of the two. This should be around a maintenance load and not a Detraining load. There are several ways to approach the concept-even changing the exercises but, I typically reduce load to around 60-65% of the previous week. How often you deload depends on a number of things outside the scope of this but it is typically done every 4th, 5th or 6th week, most commonly being the 4th.

Gregory Haff and Tudor Bompa wrote Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training which I highly recommend for an in-depth understanding of how you organize workouts. Here's a link to the text on amazon.

If you want to continue to get into better shape you need to rest!