Posted by Tony Montgomery under General  Weight Lifting  Training  on Dec 20 2016

Mitchell Rothbardt To me, whenever you change something pretty drastically in a program, for example going from 8-12 to 4-6 reps, just the change itself will get you a training effect because the body just isn't used to the new stimulus. For that reason, you just don't have to, and probably can't push the intensity super hard during the first week or two. You just can't handle the weight, to put it simply. Knowing that, if you just approach that week, with the idea of leaving two or three reps in the tank, and the 2nd week leaving maybe a rep or two in the tank with your sets that would act as a sort of deload and a transition all in one.


Paul Oneid Ok, I have two answers for this. I currently don't organize my training in that fashion and I'm more in a "concurrent" type periodization model, But I have in the past, so.... You need to be deloading regularly. Even within a block, there should be deloads. It won't interrupt the training effect what so ever and serves to keep you healthy and fresh. Plus, I can train harder during the working weeks when I know a deload is coming. A deload between dedicated blocks is essential IMO. 2- you will get a large drop in volume with a transition week, so you could argue that would be enough to elicit some recovery. The problem is that intensity is far more stressful than volume. So the spike in intensity may negate the drop in volume, depending on the disparity between the two. It will all depend on what you are used to tolerating. I'm a slow and steady guy now, so deload weeks are fine by be. The cost/ benefit definitely favors their usage. I plan them. IMO if you wait until you feel you need one, it's too late. The deload is there to mitigate a large deficit in recovery. If you always keep the gas tank above half, it takes less time to fill. If you wait until you "need" to deload, your gas tank will take longer to fill and in most cases, especially stronger lifters, this is longer than just one week of reduced training load. I still train hard on my deloads. Typically its just low volume speed/technique work in the 60-65% range for doubles/ singles. It has gone a long way to keeping me healthy.


Casey Williams If you need a "deload" week then it's assumed you feel like shit. Or you know you're body well enough that you're preventing yourself from feeling like shit by going hard that one extra week. 


So to "transition" into a different phase of training to prevent yourself from feeling like shit I would assume you'd have to lighten the intensity regardless of volume. Effectively "deloading." Assuming you transition to a high intensity but drastically lower the volume- would it act as a "deload?" For me, no. For someone else, maybe?


Long story short, for me, it's all about quality over quantity in terms of feeling good and making progress.


I deload intuitively. More so seems to depend on outside stressors at least in the last couple months. 


If it's a relatively younger lifter or young in training years, then I think a moderately higher intensity relative to the previous block is usually the way to go. 


As an experienced lifter or a lifter with a high training age, I don't see a reason for it. Risk vs reward. 


Then again every training session to some degree should be warm up and see how you feel.


Will Kuenzel There are lots of different ways it could go but just as an example, let's assume that the last phase of the hypertrophy block was aggressive (not sure why it wouldn't be but anyway...). It's no secret hypertrophy work is hard. I, speaking personally as a powerlifter, would generally not be using the same exercises for hypertrophy work as I would for strength. So between recovering from the accumulated fatigue and switching exercises a quick shift into a strength block might not be optimal. 


I'd take a week to give my body break but also to transition into the new exercises. I'd do singles or doubles at 50-60% for my main movements, adjusting the accessory work as needed while keeping the reps decently high, but keeping the weight lighter. Let the joints and muscles have a break while finding the muscle pattern to the new exercises. 


From there I'd be more confident to roll into a week of 65-70% while starting to peak over the next couple weeks.


Joe Sullivan, I prefer using a transitional week where you are changing from one focus to another. In the example of volume hypertrophy to strength block, the reps tend to drop, but due to the unfamiliarity of the individual having the amount of weight on their back that may be required for a strength block, I would keep the RPE lower and the volume lower as well. This way, they will begin the process of being accustomed to performing lower reps in an explosive manner, but having this built in "restoration week" where all stimulus has decreased, but they are still beginning the process of changing focus from accumulation to intensity


Jake Hartman, I start each 4 week wave very light in the hypertrophy phase/beginning of strength phase. The volume usually stays moderately high like a 5x5 but I start off light enough to transition straight into it. Other factors would be how long it's been since my last deload and how my body feels. I'd have most of my clients deload intensity and volume for the first week and then ramp back up. Before the deload my training generally 3x12 4x10 5x8 6x6 Reset +10-20lbs then I'll run 5x5 for 4 weeks linear progression. Then I'll cut a rep each week keeping the sets at 5 linear progressions. Then I go top set method with drop sets back to straight sets depending on how far out I'm out. Then I'll do 3 escalating sets the last 4 weeks or so.


Corey Clark For me or anyone I'm helping it comes down to what they need. How fresh or beat up are they. How fresh do they need to be for the next phase? My go to for bench is 3x 6-12 @50-70%. If I'm feeling great I'll do 3x6@70, if I'm ok I'll just do more like 3x10 at 50%, if I'm beat up or need full recovery for what comes next I drop the main lift and just do the accessories. And accessories follow a similar idea. I'll keep them the same or adjust volume and intensity for my needs. Depending on my training I will do more bodybuilding work on my deload sessions. Usually closer to competition I'm resting more days and doing fewer accessory lifts so I use the deload week to directly hit muscles and lifts that have been dropped or neglected during my heavier weeks.

My Perspective I will give you a few scenarios on how I would set up a deload because it really depends on the block set up and if you are transitioning to a different phase of training or into the same phase of training but just a different block. For one, I try not to ever plan a deload I just go by feel unless it is meet week. So if I feel beat up I take a deload if I feel good I extend the block. Pretty simple and intuitive which is important as a lifter to be able to do things based on how you feel that day. This is a whole other article in and of itself. I am in the process of finishing up a hypertrophy block or high volume block and I am transitioning into a strength block. So instead of taking a traditional delaod of something around 3x5 at 50% I will simple transitioning right into my first week of the block. Now if you block is planned correctly the strength block will bring about a different variety of exercise and an extremely lower amount of volume in the first week. So coming from a high volume block the best idea is to reduce the volume not so much the intensity because volume is what builds up fatigue and the point of the deload is to reduce fatigue so transition into a strength block will deload it automatically and with the new variance of exercise selection it will also give you another stimulus to relearn which in itself will lower the intensity. Plus you don't start a strength block off with a high intensity anyways it is something you build up to. So the traditional deload is not needed in this case and instead of feeling like you are taking a week off you are able to get the next phase of your training under way. 

When it comes to going from a strength back to a hypertrophy then you drop the intensity and do a more bodybuilding style transition week where you take the barbell out of your hands and off your back and hit some higher reps. I feel like setting up transition weeks over
deloads will do the same trick but give you a good week of training and not a typical deload. The key to this transition is to rest a bit from the higher intensities and a great way to do that is to eliminate the barbell movements. 

A huge key to consider is that a transition week, if programmed properly, should not be a death by reps week, you have to consider it an intro week and something that will be built upon from week to week, so if you go in and blast this week you will find yourself trying to recover more so than progress.

If you are building
upon blocks with the same purpose you still use the transition period to reset from the work you are doing while still getting in solid work on that week. So, for example, going from a hypertrophy block to another one you would make your transition week more of a speed/technical refinement type week. Get in there and move weight purposefully but for a few sets of 2-3 reps at a submaximal weight of 70-85% depending on how you feel.

You have a lot of different opinions here from so very good lifters, try the one that makes the most sense to you and
don't be afraid to experiment with different things in training.

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