Strength training isn't easy, and when your muscle-building process starts to slow down, you may feel discouraged to continue. If you've thought about taking a break in your strength training schedule, but you're afraid of losing mass, deloading can make you bigger. Below are details on what deloading is and how to use it with your workouts.
Deloading is a fitness strategy that involves significantly reducing your workload for one week. Although it isn't a rest week, reducing how much you lift can help with muscle gain, especially if you plateau or decrease in strength. A beginner or someone who doesn't train more than three times a week shouldn't deload for a whole week. Instead, they should lighten the weight while doing the same number of reps.
Benefits of Deloading
Athletes understand the importance of the training and recovery cycle. Serious weightlifters often worry that too much rest will reduce muscle mass, but this isn't true. Overtraining syndrome is a well-documented response to excessive exercise without adequate rest. When this occurs, it doesn't only stop progress; it also reverses it. Build long-term recovery periods into a strength training schedule to continue muscle growth.
Multiple studies have concluded that deload weeks lead to a slight increase in strength after returning from rest. Another paper by the Univerity of Tokyo studied two groups, one that trained consecutively for 24 weeks, and another that cycled between six weeks on and three weeks off. At the end of 24 weeks, both groups had gained the same amount of muscle.
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