Monday, October 3, 2011

Getting Jacked - Part 7 - The LRB no-deload "deload"

Anyone who has read my blog long enough or enough of my articles knows I am not a fan of planned deloads.  They don't make sense to me and never have.  Yes I understand that some people do like them and do well with them, however I don't and I don't plan in deloads with my training.

Generally guys plan a deload after 3 weeks of training.  This, kind of like peri-workout nutrition, is supposed to be based in "science" however like peri-workout nutrition, I've never seen anything that merits worrying about it as much as most people do.  This comes back to science vs anecdotal evidence.  So far as lifting goes, I generally put more stock into anecdotal evidence than scientific studies when it comes to these types of things because over time you get a big enough sample to see things for what they really are.  

So the theory is, deload after three weeks of training to avoid "overtraining" or burnout or hitting a rut, whatever.  The deload is supposed to "save you" a bit if you will.  I personally think guys should be thinking about how to stack as many 80% graded training sessions in a row for as long as possible until you'd rather get raped by Mr. Snuffleupagus in a deserted hotel in Beirut than go to the gym.  

Let me also say that I'm not saying downtime isn't required in a lifting program/template.  It is.  However planning downtime doesn't make sense to me.  I've gone 3 and 4 months before with solid steady progress training my ass off, without taking a day off.  I didn't take a day off because training was always progressing and I felt like training hard.

That last sentence is the real key in my opinion.  Knowing when to take time off for me, comes very easy.  When I dread going into the gym for more than two sessions in a row, that's it.  I take time off until MENTALLY I am craving the weights.  Until I feel like I am jumping out of my skin to get back in.  I need to feel "hungry" again.

In my youth I rarely remember taking time off.  This is because the recovery is very high for young dudes.  You aren't pushing a ton of weight and your cells are regenerating at a much faster clip, natural test levels are at all time highs, growth hormone is abundant, and you can eat like a fucking killer whale.  This makes for a great time to train high-everything (volume, intensity, frequency, whatever).  One of the reasons I made good progress in my young years is because I didn't do deloads or do a lot of routine jumping.  I was limited to what I had in my home for a long time and when I did join a gym I can remember doing the same shit for many years on end (leg press, squats, stiff legs, bench, incline, dip, pbn, chins, rows) and just trying to constantly add reps to X weight, then bump the weight.  This was my staple for a long time along with back off sets.  And it worked.  I took time off when I got sick, but I never had planned deloads.  When I started lifting at 14 I was 113 pounds.  4 years later I was 220 pounds.  If I deloaded every month like people talk about that would have been 12 weeks of solid training that I missed out on a year.  That's 3 months, a whole summer.

Fuck that noise.

The other thing about deloading that messed with me was taking weight off the bar.  Did I get weaker over a week?  No.  Did I mentally "deload"?  Yes.  For me I need momentum going forward with weight on the bar, and I sort of "relax" when I remove plates from the bar.  I've had other guys tell me this exact same thing so it's not just me.

"What about when you hit a rut for a while but still feel good about training, Paul?"

I just drop the weights back a bit (but not light, might you) and ramp back up.  That's pretty much it.  And it works.

So am I telling you to train with wreckless abandon and go all out without ever planning time off?  Not completely.  Every 6-8 weeks give yourself a check as to where you are physically, mentally, and progressively.  If you are still hungry to be in the gym and your body feels good, stay at it.  If your weights have stalled, back up and get another run and go.

If you feel good mentally but your body is beat up, see if you just need to rehab some shit, apply some ice and back off what makes you hurt for a while.  Yes, that means changing a movement if it causing pain, but you still feel hungry to train.

If mentally you feel beat down and dread the gym, get the fuck out of there.  How long?  Until you feel HUNGRY to be back in.  Then decide what your course of action will be, what it is you are trying to accomplish, and attack that shit like a fireball of awesome.

That's pretty much it.  I don't overthink things, I just let my mind and body tell me what to do as far as this goes.  I feel like it has served me pretty well.  


  1. Paul,

    I have about 4 years training history, and I've never been injured. Recently (the last 4 weeks or so) I've had some pain in my lower back on one side just above my ass. It's bad after I deadlift, and flares up pretty good after I squat. In the last 2 weeks it's been beginning to bug me outside of the gym, pretty much all the time. I don't know if it's an injury or what. Is this just "beat up" like you mention above, or should I go see a doc? I'm a grad student on university healthcare, so it ain't great. I'm not covered for sports medicine. Whatever it is, I'm going to rehab it very seriously over the next several weeks. Should I completely drop the deadlift and squat during this time or keep them in at a lower intensity (~50%)?

  2. This is based way too much in common sense for it to ever work LOL.

    I feel the same way about deloads. I ALWAYS feel weaker after one, whether I really am or not.

  3. Brandon - Sounds like your piriformis. Stretch that thing out good for the next 4-5 days several times a day and see if it doesn't go away.

    Exactly Justin. I know Jim tells me it's not the case but it's a mental thing with me, so I don't do it. fuck a planned deload.

  4. Paul,
    what's the ideal p/c/f ratio for a 85kg man so that he could be lean and still have energy and power to increase his strength?

  5. Work the LRB diet until you find that balance.