In order to progress in the world of bodybuilding you have to continuously add weight to the bar and challenge yourself. If you always lift the same weight, you will stay at the same place. To get to new levels of strength and muscle mass you have to improve. However, it’s not as simple as always adding weight to the bar. If you keep on lifting more and more weight every session, you will sooner or later reach a super heavy weight you cannot lift for the required repetitions. What do you do then? YOU DELOAD!
After 6-10 weeks of hard work and progressive overload you need a deload phase. The deload phase is a period when you lift lighter weights on purpose in order to allow the body to recover. *You make a step back to make two steps forward.* When you work hard for a certain period of time and always try to better yourself there’s accumulative fatigue and damage. The body is not a mechanic machine and as a natural bodybuilder you don’t have extremely fast recovery.
The skeletal muscle has very good blood supply and recovers much faster than the joint and the connective tissues in general. A small muscle pull may recover in a few days, but a tendon or ligament tear from the same level will need 10 times more time due to the poor circulation. For the same reason the muscle gets stronger faster but the connective tissues need more time to catch up. That’s why you should have a deload phase even if you don’t feel like you need it. Your joints will thank you in the long run.
Many bodybuilders fail to understand that simple concept and suffer the consequences which are regress and injuries. You will have to put your ego aside and lift light weights for a week or two. This how a linear progression followed by a deload looks like:
Week 1: 135 lbs x 10;
Week 2: 140 lbs x 10;
Week 3: 145 lbs x 9;
Week 4: 150 lbs 8;
Week 5: 155 lbs x 5 ( some joint discomfort)
Week 6: 160 lbs x 3 (feels heavy)
Week 7: 140 lbs x 5-8;
One week deload. Start over the progressive overload at higher weight:
Week 1: 150 lbs x 10;
Week 2: 155 lbs x 10;
You start at a light weight. You build to a weight that’s challenging. You make a step back, reduce the weight for a week and then you start the same cycle with a weight slightly higher than what you started with initially.
Note: This cycle is just an example. There are many different variations that are equally effective. You can build your own once you understand the importance of the deload.