Now that we are comfortably settled in to the Wendler 5/3/1/ Cycle, the coaches have been getting some questions. One of the most persistent ones is: Why do I have to deload? Can’t I just put some more weight on the bar???”
What is a deload week? A deload week is simply a week spent recovering from exercise. It is not just an excuse to wimp out. It’s an absolutely essential part of training! We are all familiar with rest days. Why not extend the concept further to a rest week? After all, your body has no respect for how long you think it should take to recover.
Only reality matters: how long does your body actually need for recovery? Consistent training eventually builds a deficit that cannot be repaid in a single rest day. A deload week is a chance for your body to recover from that deficit. The deload week allows your body to catch up. Muscle can recover more quickly than connective tissue. A deload week keeps tendons and ligaments healthy. If you chronically develop tendonitis, then scheduled deload weeks are definitely part of the solution.
Here’s the disconnect: You don’t get stronger by exercising! You get stronger by recovering from exercise.This simple concept forms the basis of exercise physiology. The basic theory goes like this:
1. Provide a stimulus to an organism (exercise)
2. Remove the stimulus (rest)
3. The organism adapts to better handle the stimulus (Next time you can deadlift 375 lbs instead of 370 lbs). This is called supercompensation.
We all recognize the importance of Step #1. We all recognize the fun of Step #3. But Step #2 often goes neglected, even though it’s equally critical.
What happens when you neglect Step #2 and you never remove the stimulus (you continue to exercise constantly)? The organism dies. Now everyone will stop exercising before they die, but the point is that a never-ending stimulus (unceasing exercise) doesn’t make you better. It makes you worse. It digs your body into a hole that keeps getting deeper. This is called overtraining.
Don’t forget — a deload week is not an excuse to derail your nutrition. On the contrary, sticking to your nutrition plan is even more important during your deload week. Keeping your normal gym schedule while just performing recovery and mobility workouts can help keep your routine intact. Routine helps most athletes stick to their nutrition plan. Your body is repairing itself. You need to provide it all the quality fuel it needs to complete the repairs, along with plenty of sleep every night. Recovery is not just the absence of training; it is a critical part of the training process!
— Coach Rachel