Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, Edgecliff, Marrickville, Bella VistaRandwickLindfield and Balmain,today explore how to deload to improve performance.

It is very common when people begin training quite frequently and are putting a lot of effort into their training in terms of progressing each week, that they may find themselves struggling physically and mentally some weeks. This is often a sign to deload.

What is a deload?

A deload is a period of time in your training where you reduce the volume (amount of work completed) and the intensity (how heavy) of the work completed for a week.


What indicates a deload?

Knowing when to deload can come down mainly to subjective and objective markers surrounding your training within the gym and health outside the gym. These markers may present themselves after weeks of progressing the weight your moving in the gym and you hit a wall, or you find yourself having to reduce the weight because it feels too heavy.


Here is a breakdown of common markers:


  • Feeling more sore than usual
  • Don’t feel recovered after a day off between training splits
  • Feeling fatigued despite sleeping well and feeling the need for more sleep
  • Less motivated to train than usual
  • Poor sleep



  • Drop in performance
    • Usual progression (e.g. 2.5% increase in weight each week) has stopped
    • Back to back weeks of progress stalling
    • Everything in the gym feels like a ‘grind’ or extra hard


When to deload?

So, with what has been mentioned above in terms of subjective and objective markers, it is very important to actually track these markers every day and or week. This allows you to understand when a deload is necessary because there will be a trend in these markers e.g. Increased soreness and less motivation the past two weeks along with struggling to progress exercises.


I recommend making a check list broken down into days and weeks where you rate your subjective and objective markers.


Here is an example:

How to deload

When we deload, there is a reduction in how many total sets you are completing (therefore reduce overall volume) and reduction in how much weight you do for each exercise compared to your prior week of training. We want to do this for one week. For the entire week there is an even reduction in volume completed each workout, however reductions in intensity start high and reduce throughout the week, so there isn’t a detraining effect.


Here is an example:


Day 1: 85% of top weight + 1 less set on every exercise

Day 2: 90% of top weight + 1 less set on every exercise

Day 3: 90% of top weight + 1 less set on every exercise

Day 4: 95% of top weight + 1 less set on every exercise


If you need help with managing your training or want some guidance on how to progress your training to become stronger or get fitter, our experienced Exercise Physiologists can help you on 1300 964 002.

Written by Guy Beynon