The old-school concept of a de-load focuses on two things.
- Simply to decrease the “total volume” by lowering the number of sets and reps.
- Decrease the intensity (perceived effort) of the sets. The current terminology that is used often refers to having a higher RIR (reps in reserve) when de-loading.
This overly simplistic way of looking at it fails to take into context some very important information… The stimulus of the training.
The primary issue with the first point is that attempting to calculate volume with a simple third-grade math equations of multiplying total sets x reps x weight is highly flawed. It tells you nothing about the actual effect your workout has on your body biologically. If you want to learn more about volume, we have longer more in-depth videos available HERE and HERE.
The issue with the second is that while just training “less hard” might be a bit of a break from higher intensity work, you are essentially wasting time you could be progressing in other areas. More on that in a second.
When we begin to understand how training with different rep ranges, rest periods, resistance profiles, tempos, etc. we can create different types of stress or stimulus for the body to adapt to. Often times when we begin to slow down in progress, what is needed is a change in stimulus, not simply “doing less work”.
Wouldn’t you rather change to a type of training where you can still reap some benefits and positive adaptations that just maintain where you are doing sub-maximal work?