The Implementation and Importance of a DELOAD Week

The progressive continuation and repeating exertion of high intense exercise without active recovery could lead to injury (5). However, the implementation of an undulating cyclical phase of training can improve performance and reduce the likelihood of injury (1). A “deload” is a reduction of training intensity and/or volume. The prescription of a deload week within an undulating training regimen has the capability to prevent performance plateau and reduce the likelihood of injury.

The general adaptive syndrome (GAS) was a theory conceptualized by Hans Seyle in 1956, which describes the human body’s response to stress and adaptive responses to a training stimulus (2, 3, 6). The GAS application consist of four phases: the 1) alarm phase, 2) resistance phase, 3) super-compensation phase, and 4) overtraining phase. Each phase represents the physiological responses to stress. During the alarm phase, performance capacity is reduced due to fatigue, soreness, stiffness and a reduction in energy stores (4). In untrained subjects, the alarm phase occurs after an initial training session and is typically felt the next day. The resistance phase consists of the adaptive responses (if planned appropriately). Next, performance levels will either return to baseline or be elevated during the super-compensation phase. Lastly, overtraining involves high stressors and the body’s inability to respond to the stress. Thus, overtraining occurs and the body is at high risk for injury and fatigue. So, where does the deload come into play?

A properly designed program with a deload week will likely reduce overtraining. Of course, the amount of deloads within a training program will be influenced by the individual’s training status, sports played, activity level, competition schedule, etc. However, a general rule of thumb is to include a deload week once within a four week training block. An example includes: a base week, a loading week (i.e. higher intensity and/or volume), a deload week (i.e. a reduction in training intensity and/or volume), and a performance week (i.e. a higher intensity and/or volume compared to the loading week).

More information about deload training percentages (%) and recommend exercise performed during a deload week will be added in future posts. Be sure to subscribe below to receive all future posts.


1. Foster, C. (1998). Monitoring training in athletes with reference to overtraining syndrome. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise Science, 30, 1164-1168.

2. Garhammer, J. (1978). Periodization of strength training for athletes. Track Tech, 73, 2398-2399.

3. Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill.

4. Stone, M.H., Potteiger, J.A., Pierce, K.C., et al. (2000). Comparison of the effects of three different weight bearing programs on the one repetition max squat. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 14, 332-337.

5. Stone, M.H., Stone, M.E., Sands, W.A. (2007). Principles and practice of resistance training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

6. Verkhoshansky, Y. U. (2007). Theory and methodology of sport participation. Block training for top-level athletes. Teoria I Practica Physicheskoj Culturi, 4, 2-14

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