Deloading – Why?

Deload Week – Why? 


At LiftOff CrossFit we use basic linear periodisation for our main classes. We break our programming into cycles of 8-12 weeks and each cycle will have a slightly different focus too it whilst always maintaining our General Physical Preparedness.

Lets look at the last cycle of 12 weeks that I designed. This had a focus on upper body strength and capacity which I identified as a weakness after the last testing phase. We have concurrently worked on all other aspects of physical fitness aswell, we are CrossFit gym and therefore specialise in not specialising.

As the cycle has progressed the intensity has slowly increased and people have become more and more fatigued. In other words we have accumulated a lot of volume and fatigue. This is how we adapt, a basic law of physiology (Seyles theory if you are interested) which is that we must systematically overload the body to create adaptation.

This is all well and good, but as some of you have pointed out you feel pretty exhausted and actually like you have got a little weaker! Well this is why we deload. We must allow the body to recover from all of the work you have put in over the previous cycle. This is where the adaptation occurs. As you recover your body adapts to the stimulus that we have applied too it and builds the physiological foundation to overcome that stimulus.

If I kept pushing the programming hard, continually building intensity endlessly you would either get sick of it (mentally it can be draining to push hard every single day), get injured or just get ill. The body can only handle so much and needs to rest. Hence why we sleep every 24 hours.

So this is what we are doing when we deload, essentially resting…but with cleverly designed training! It is important that we maintain some training while we deload, this allows us to use active recovery principles and mentally keeps us fresh.

So during a deload week we maintain some stimulus. This will include lifting at slightly lower volume or intensity and the same with conditioning. For instance yesterday I programmed some sixty second mixed modal aerobic power intervals. However they were low in volume compared to the sometimes very strenuous sessions that you have completed in recent weeks.

So to conclude – I know no-one likes the thought of a deload, going ‘easy’ is not what you want to hear. However it is absolutely essential to keep building fitness. The below graph shows how much progress you can gradually make using linear periodisation. Imagine how much fitness and strength can be gained within a year, or two years. A few weeks of taking it slightly easier every 8-12 weeks is only going to help you get stronger and fitter, stay injury free and keep mentally fresh.


Enjoy the deload, testing is coming next week and you will be pushing mental and physical boundaries every day!

“Men will die for points” Greg Glassman, CrossFit CEO and Founder, 2006