Isn’t the point of getting stronger to add more weight to lifts?
Well…Yes. Aaannd No.
For the novice to intermediate trainee, the importance of incorporating planned periods of decreased “intensity” aka “lower the weight on the bar” seems like a counterproductive notion. While someone in this phase of their “career” can steadily and consistently increase the load week to week for a relatively significant period of time, I like to start addressing how this single-minded approach might lead to a massive wall of frustration in the not-too-distant future.
Start by asking what the end goal is: Too get stronger duh….
Yeah but let’s look at what the behaviors/routine looks like when you’re there playing around your matured capacity. After you’ve acquired the proverbial “newbie gainz” or universally applied as the “low-hanging fruit,” you will have to work harder to acquire seemingly less improvements. “Harder” is a relative sense, in that you have to start addressing many things well beyond merely placing yourself under heavy weights for repeated bouts. You have to focus on the less “sexy” things; things like SLEEP, NUTRITION, RECOVERY, and the list goes on.
Well, if we know that those things are going to ultimately become the difference maker at the highest level, my argument would be to establish and nurture those habits from the get-go. This way, you will not hit the major roadblocks along the way that force you to take steps back in order to acquire these massively important routines.
Sooooo, enter stage left: THE DELOAD.
Systematically incorporating periods of reduced capacity PROACTIVELY allows you to take minor steps back as a function to ramp up recovery, hone in technique, and address your current status with a “beginner’s mindset.” You will NEVER be perfect or know everything, and by having the humility to designate time to actively reflect on the places you can improve in your craft, well, it’s not only prudent, it’s a constant in all the greatest at their craft.
The reality is, at some point, you will have to “go lighter” in your training career. There is 2 options about when that happens. Either by choice (planning and proactively implementing the aforementioned practices) OR grander forms of FAILURE (injury and the like).
While you might not see as much immediate increases in performance with these tactics, we must all remember that when we’re speaking to longevity and sustainable health, we’re looking at the rest of your life. Using tried-and-true tactics to maximize the long term success of your goals is the smartest way to minimize risk and maximize progress.