When To Start Deloading: Signs You Need A Deload Week

Taking a deload week is a great idea for any training plan, especially if you have intense training sessions on a regular basis.

In general, the common signs you need a deload week are feeling constant muscle soreness, seeing your performance starts to decline in the gym, your joints start to ache, feeling unmotivated to go to the gym, and catching colds or getting sick more frequently.

Always having a high training intensity can cause your body to build up strain and fatigue.

If you want to progress further into your fitness journey, sometimes the best thing to do is to take a deload week and give your body, mind, and central nervous system some time for recovery.

Below, I’ll go over what exactly is a deload week, the signs you should be looking for, and how to implement deload weeks into your training plan.

Pug Resting In Bed With Stuffed Animal

What Is A Deload Week

A dead load week is where you take a week off from your normal training routine and reduce your training stimulus.

This can be done by completely not going to the gym, lifting any weight, or doing any intense physical activity for the entire deload period.

Or you can still have your regular training session with changes and adjustments to weight, sets, and reps. You’ll generally want to reduce training volume by reducing your weights, sets, and reps.

You can think of it as an active rest day. You can still practice your lifting technique, but you shouldn’t use the same weight. Your reps and sets should be reduced as well.

This is so you can catch up on adequate rest, promote recovery, and reduce fatigue that has accumulated throughout your training program.

7 Signs You Need A Deload Week

These seven signs are not listed in any particular order. There can be other subtle signs you may need a deload week, but these are the most significant signs you should be looking out for.

Man Squeezing Sore Quads

1. You Have A Build Up Of Muscle Soreness And Fatigue

One of the biggest signs that you need to take a break from hard training is if you continue to suffer from onset muscle soreness and fatigue week by week. (1)

Typically, you should have your muscles recovered by the next time you try to work out the same muscle group.

If you continue to train through soreness, your body can slowly accumulate fatigue and never get a chance to fully recover.

And doing this can lead to poor performance in the gym.

Which brings me to the next sign you should look for…

Man Barbell Back Squats

2. Your Performance Starts To Regress

Don’t get me wrong. It’s common to have off days and times where you just don’t perform the same in the gym.

But if you’ve noticed that there has been a decline in your performance week by week, then this may be a sign of overtraining, and you may benefit from taking a deload week to focus on recovery.

This is assuming nutrition and sleep quality have been optimal. (Keep in mind improper diet/nutrition and subpar sleep can have the same effects on your resistance training program)

But if you are getting proper sleep and eating right, then it most likely means you should take a few deload periods.

Man Not Motivated To Work

3. Still Feeling Tired After Plenty Of Sleep And Rest

As I’ve mentioned previously if you have been getting a good night’s sleep and eating properly and you still feel fatigued throughout the day.

This is most likely a sign of built-up fatigue within your body from high-intensity and high-volume exercise.

You’ll most likely benefit from taking a deload week.

Man On Couch With Achy Joints

4. Starting To Feel Aches And Pains Around Your Joints

Having sore muscles and slight fatigue is completely normal. You should be able to recover from a normal amount of training volume.

But if you are really pushing yourself, then your sore muscles and fatigue can slowly turn into aches and pains around your joints.

If you are starting to feel your joints aching, then this is a big indicator that you should reduce fatigue and take a deload week. You would probably benefit from completely taking a week or even two off of your training plan.

You may also consider restructuring your program design and trying a more effective training plan in order to avoid overtraining and getting to this point.

Girl Tired On Couch With Pillow

5. Feeling Unmotivated To Be At The Gym And Train

Sometimes, the signs of built-up fatigue and stress from training aren’t just physical issues.

Pushing your body and its central nervous system to its limits from high-intensity training can start to take a toll on the mind as well.

If you start to feel unmotivated to be at the gym, then it may be time to take some time off just to relax and reduce any built-up stress.

(Just make sure you are not just being lazy and using overtraining as an excuse)

Stack Of Plate Weights At Gym

6. Your Performance Plateaus And The Weight Feels Heavier

Another sign to look for is hitting a training plateau. Now, keep in mind not all plateaus mean you need a deload.

But if you’ve been on a plateau for several weeks and the same weight you used to lift starts to feel heavier and heavier.

Then this may be a sign that you should take a deload week or would benefit from one greatly.

7. Weaker Immune System And Getting Colds Frequently

Last but not least, if you’ve noticed, you are more susceptible to getting sick. This may be a sign your body is overworked and could use some rest and recovery.

I was hesitant to add this to my list because you could just be catching a bug going around, and it could have nothing to do with needing to take a deload.

However, an overworked body built up with stress and fatigue can lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to catching colds.

Benefits Of Deload Weeks

The obvious benefit of deload weeks is giving your body a break from the high-intensity training and allowing it to recover from built-up stress and fatigue.

This can allow muscles to recover and perform better during your next mesocycle.

Gym Trainer Showing Plan

How To Implement Deload Weeks Into Your Training Programs

In general you want to be scheduling regular deload weeks within your training program.

I personally like to do a 5-week training block following a 1-week deload period.

This training schedule allows me to maintain progressive overload every month while giving my body time for recovery.

This week allows any built-up fatigue to go away and also gives me a little mental recovery!

Now let’s talk about how to actually perform a deload week…

Lower Your Training Volume

The main idea is to lower training intensity as well as volume to give your body a break and some time to catch up on recovery.

You can achieve this by either no training at all for an entire week.

Another method is to reduce your weights and cut back on the amount of reps and sets you do during your workouts.

Final Thoughts On Deloads And Signs You Should Look For

This concludes my post on the signs you should keep an eye on to know whether or not you should be doing a deload week.

I believe an effective training plan will have regular deload weeks programmed into its schedule already.

But if, for some reason, you haven’t started incorporating a deload week into your training schedule, then you should really reconsider.

This is especially true if you have noticed any of the signs I listed above, which might mean your body is due for some recovery time.

I hope I was able to answer any questions you had about this, and I wish you the best in your fitness journey!

Jordan Arenas

My name is Jordan Arenas and I am the owner and author of RFKN Fit. I created RFKN Fit to help others achieve their fitness goals. My mission is to share helpful workouts, nutrition tips, delicious recipes, tips on mindset, some motivation, and some good ol' gym humor with this blog of mine. Hope you enjoy!

Recent Posts