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Deload Methods Thoughts

Based on my research it seems like there are two primary approaches to structuring a deload.

  1. Intensity deload - Keeps volume (sets/reps) the same while decreasing intensity (weight). Usually by ~20-30%

  2. Volume deload - Keeps intensity (weight) the same while decreasing volume, usually by about 1 set per exercise or 1-2 reps per set.

I’m sure there are other schools of thought, but in researching those two I have a few questions.

  1. Which method do people tend to prefer?
  2. What are the pros/cons of each method?
  3. For those that use the intensity method, what range of weight decreases do you usually aim for?

All thoughts and replies are very much appreciated.

It really depends on one’s personality and preferences. If you look into the Neurotyping System, each neurotype has different things that suit them and that completely kill their recovery and/or motivation.
On one end of the spectrum, type 1s prefer heavy and explosive training, and okot tolerate a lower amount of volume, so their deload would be centred around dropping the volume and just working relatively heavy with singles, or using jumps and throws.
While someone like a type 3 could tolerate considerably more volume but less intensity, so they would drop intensity and maintain volume.
So pros and cons are not really applicable here keep whatever drives your numbers and deload on what you find hard to recover from.
On the range of weight drops, depends on the rep range you use.

Since the whole point of the deload is to reduce fatigue, it would make sense to reduce whatever has created that fatigue. In a hypertrophy block, volume is the driver of fatigue, so it would make sense that a volume deload would be most appropriate. For a peaking block, it’s intensity so that deload makes sense. For more of a strength block or general conjugate training, typically you have both mechanisms driving fatigues so you would need to pull both back.

Not scientific at all, but below is the typical deload protocol I’ve used for myself and others and seems to do a good job of leaving you feeling like you got good work in, but in a restorative way.

This workout is to be repeated at least twice, but no more than 3 times during the week. Unless explicitly specified, no other time should be spent in the gym. In addition to these workouts, I would encourage low stress, low intensity outdoor cardiovascular activity, such as hiking, riding a bike, or kayaking/canoeing. See this as an opportunity to use the time you would normally be in the gym to catch up on other things in your life that you’ve either been putting off, or could negatively impact your next block of training if you don’t address them now.

The workout comprises 6 compound movements, all done in a “5x5” protocol at around 40-50% of your 1RM, and paired to form three 2-movement supersets. Ideally, during the superset you will leave as little time as possible between sets, walking back and forth from one station to the other until all 5 sets of both movements are complete. .

Superset 1
-High Bar Squat
-Barbell Row

Superset 2
-Bench Press

Superset 3
-Overhead Press (standing or seated)
-Pullups (or lat pulls if you cannot do 10+ strict pullups)


Thanks for the awesome suggestion and program idea. I’m going to give that a shot for my next deload.

Most people reduce volume and intensity, but how much can vary. Not everyone responds the same way, if I cut intensity too much then the next week everything will feel way too heavy so I prefer to only slightly reduce intensity but cut volume more. You shouldn’t come back from a deload feeling weaker. Experiment with different stuff and see what works for you.

Personally like to drop volume more than intensity in general. Hard to give numbers to it because it’ll vary but usually no more than 20% drop in intensity and up to 75% drop in volume. The important thing is that you are monitoring your response, that you are feeling better and better recovered as you go thru the deload (might still feel shit during the start), weights moving better and better, soreness/aches dissipating and pyschological your motivation is up to go train hard

Would add to the list of thing reducing RPE/proximity to failure, psychological arousal / hype and reducing caffeine intake too.

Pivot block is something you may wanna consider too which is a little different. Search it up on YouTube.

I usually just switch to a raw movement that im not going to be great at straining so front squats or OHP

This is awesome. I never considered this before

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Most of this year I have been using the volume reduction method with a slight reduction in intensity. Deloads for are usually a couple of sets less per movement and the weights is a bit 5kg down on the heaviest weights used in the previous week.
The drop in volume is usually enough to make me feel fresh by the end of the week. With my current training the weights increases across the block so a heavy deload also means the first week of the block is often lighter than the deload. This makes everything move ready and easy in the first week and sets me up mentally for a good block.

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I hadn’t either till I thought about the question, so it could be total bullshit. If anyone where with a formal education in strength training wants to chime in, by all means please do!

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You’re pretty much spot on.

Deloads are about letting the body rest/heal/ whatever which is why you should really plan training accordingly so you don’t need a deload, life is your deload.

A sick kid, broken down car, extra work hours all of those things that get in the way of training are your “Deload”

A solid training program accounts for the ability to manage stress. If you write out a 12 week cycle and at week 7 you’re not recovering you don’t just deload you address that through the next 5 weeks of training.

Additionally if you have an unexpected deload you have to alter the rest of training to account for the deload you just had.

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Does this fit the bill?