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Is the One-Week Deload a Myth? Experts Challenge Traditional Rest Strategies

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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Think you know how to deload for muscle gains? Think again.  Deloading, the process of reducing your workout volume or intensity, is key to avoiding burnout and plateaus.  

But experts like Dr. Mike Israetel and Menno Henselmans are challenging the “standard” rest week, arguing it might actually slow your progress. 

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Discover cutting-edge deloading strategies that personalize your recovery based on science, not tradition.

The Concept of Deloading

Deloading refers to a planned reduction in exercise volume or intensity, providing the body a break to recover and prepare for further training. 

Traditionally, deloading is scheduled periodically, such as every fourth or eighth week of a training cycle, and involves reducing workout intensity or taking a complete break. 

This practice, however, is based more on tradition than scientific evidence, leading experts to question and redefine its application.

Expert Insights on Deloading

Dr. Mike Israetel, a prominent figure in the fitness industry, criticizes the conventional wisdom of taking a week-long break. 

He argues that the need for such a prolonged deload period is generally unfounded unless it follows an intense overreaching phase. 

According to him, muscle recovery times for trained individuals typically range from 24 to 72 hours, depending on the workout’s volume and intensity. 

Therefore, a week-long break is often more than what is necessary and could actually hinder progress by causing unnecessary detraining.

Menno Henselmans offers a different perspective with his reactive deloading approach. 

This method suggests adjusting the deload based on specific muscle group recovery and individual performance metrics rather than following a predetermined schedule. 

Reactive deloading allows for immediate responses to signs of under-recovery, such as a noticeable decrease in performance, by reducing the workout load or skipping sets for specific muscle groups, thus preventing overtraining while minimizing downtime.

Scientific Perspective

Recent studies and expert opinions support more flexible and responsive deloading strategies. 

There is little evidence to suggest that a rigid, one-week deload is necessary for most athletes.

 Instead, research points towards the effectiveness of shorter or targeted deloads that are adapted based on the athlete’s recovery status and training intensity. 

This approach not only prevents potential overtraining but also ensures that athletes remain engaged and do not lose significant progress during extended breaks.

Practical Deloading Strategies

For athletes looking to integrate deloading into their routine, the following strategies can be effective:

  1. Monitor Performance Closely: Use performance metrics to gauge when a deload might be necessary. If performance decreases consistently, it might indicate a need for reduced load or intensity.
  2. Implement Reactive Deloads: Adjust training based on real-time recovery needs. For example, if an athlete is struggling with a particular set or workout, reducing the volume immediately rather than waiting for a scheduled deload week can be beneficial.
  3. Customize Deloads for Individual Needs: Different muscle groups may recover at different rates. Tailoring deload periods to specific muscle groups can prevent generalized fatigue and promote better overall recovery.


Deloading is an essential component of any comprehensive strength training program, but its traditional one-size-fits-all approach is increasingly being questioned. 

The insights from Dr. Mike and Menno Henselmans highlight the importance of a more personalized, scientifically-backed approach to deloading. 

By adopting strategies that are responsive to individual needs and recovery times, athletes can maximize their training outcomes while minimizing the risk of injury and overtraining.

This exploration into effective deloading practices underscores the evolving nature of fitness strategies and the ongoing need to adapt and refine training methodologies based on emerging research and expert insights. 

As the science of fitness progresses, so too will the approaches to ensuring athletes can train smarter, recover faster, and perform at their best.


Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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