Given that Paragon is a program that is varied week to week and has new members constantly filtering in, there isn’t a specific guideline where everyone will DELOAD at the same time.
Before you read more, I think it’s VERY IMPORTANT to state that you will NOT LOSE GAINS during a deload. Listen… when you train hard for multiple weeks, you build up resistance to progress. The deload week acts as a “re-sensitization” in which the muscles will respond more effectively to the stimulus.
If you are a race car driver, of course it would be ideal if you could avoid the pit-stop and just keep driving. But what happens to the car when you avoid the pit stop for too long?
Also, FATIGUE MASKS FITNESS. You don’t even know that you are performing sub-optimally until you flush out the fatigue. You’ll be amazed at how strong you feel when you come back from deload week.
So I wanted to write a quick DIY as it pertains to the WHEN and HOW of implementing a deload.
You know it’s time to DELOAD when:
– You haven’t taken a deload week for 12-16 weeks. Seriously, read this again. Do not read any further. If you have gone 12+ weeks of hard training and haven’t taken a true deload week, I don’t care if you still feel fantastic and are performing well. Take a deload week (I take one every 4-6 weeks of hard training).
The two main reasons you deload are for CNS recovery and joint/ligament recovery. CNS fatigue is gradual and you can generally feel it. Joint/ligament fatigue is unnoticeable until you get injured. Literally, you could feel fantastic and then get injured. The DELOAD helps you allow these fragile structures to recover (take the pit stop for your long term health).
– Multiple sessions in a row, you struggle to meet or exceed your expectations in regards to load or reps (i.e. things just feel heavy)
– Multiple sessions in a row, motivation is lower than normal. You tell yourself you HAVE to go to the gym, or “I will feel better if I go” and then you just feel crappy and tired after.
– Life stress is super high, sleep is suffering, etc…
HOW to Deload properly
Three ways to do this:
All of the options are good and achieve the goals of re-sensitization and recovery without risk of muscle or strength loss. In fact, many people find they end up looking better throughout this week as the inflammation is flushed out.
1. Take an entire 5-7 days off and don’t think about the gym. Go hiking, play some low impact sports, enjoy life.
2. Take 3-4 days off, then hit ONE upper and ONE lower session (per below protocol)
3. Complete your normal training program 4-5x per week, but follow the below protocol for all sessions
It’s important to understand that the PURPOSE of this week is to recover. You should ultimately try to leave the gym each day with a slight endorphin high (similar to going for a long walk or casual hike). If you get a pump and feel like you got a “good workout” than you worked too hard.
The following criteria should be met to ensure a proper DELOAD week:
– Total number of work sets per body part = about 50% of normal workload
– Weight used should be 10% less than “normal” for a target number of reps
– Reps should be 20% less than “target number” (as referenced above)
– All sets must be a minimum of 5 reps shy of failure
Here is how it would look in application. Let’s assume this is what PPT programmed:
Back Squat – 4 x 10-12
You would usually use 100 lbs
DELOAD WEEK ADJUSTMENT
Back Squat – 2 x 8 with 90 lbs ———————-
Once you understand these principles, you can apply the same approach to all exercises on the daily program. Create yourself a perfect DELOAD week to enhance your path to optimal gains.