INBA PNBA athlete Michael Boyle says this is when you should take a deload week.
Taking a deload week can be beneficial for your workout progress. It’s when you back off the intensity and volume you do when you work out. Deload weeks will help you build muscle and is a form of active recovery. The question is: how often should you do them? International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA)/Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association (PNBA) natural bodybuilder Michael Boyle shares his experience on when you should reduce your workout intensity and volume.
Michael Boyle is a 2x British natural bodybuilding champion. And he earned a bronze medal in the Men’s Bodybuilding Masters division at 2021 Natural Olympia – he plans to win it all!
Boyle shared his perspective on social media regarding the best time to take a deload week. According to Michael Boyle, the proper time is:
“THERE IS NO RULES WHEN TO TAKE A DELOAD WEEK. I’M FINDING IT’S EVERY 3RD WEEK FOR ME. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. TALK TO YOUR COACH. FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.”
Boyle acknowledged that he just hit a new personal best on deadlifts after coming off a deload week. You can see Boyle deadlifting below:
Deload Week Benefits
Michael Boyle has found that taking a deload week every third week works best for him. Of course, as he acknowledges, this may not be the case for everyone. Some people will only want to once every 6-12 weeks.
- Gain strength and muscle
- Faster recovery
- Improve joint health
- Reduce stress
Listening to your body is a critical factor in determining when the right time to take a deload week. For example, if you’ve plateaued in the gym, are suffering from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), or are chronically tired, it may be time for you to back off on your workload and intensity.
Furthermore, the higher your intensity and volume are, the more often you’ll want to take a deload week. As a natural bodybuilder like Boyle, he’ll train with high intensity and high volume workouts, so he benefits from taking a deload week often. On the other hand, a regular everyday gym-goer may not need to deload as often because their volume and intensity will be lower than a top natural bodybuilder’s training regimen.
Natural Bodybuilders Vs. Enhanced Lifters
Natural bodybuilders cannot exploit steroids. Their bodies can’t do as much volume and intensity as consistently as an enhanced lifter (lifter doping). That’s because drugs such as steroids will allow your body to do more than it’s capable alone. Therefore, steroid users may be able to forgo them or do them less often.
How to Implement a Deload Week
You’ll want to back off the volume (sets, reps, and exercises) you do, combined with doing them at a lower intensity. Unfortunately, there’s no carved-in-stone way to do this. However, we recommend cutting back each set by 1-2 per exercise and using a weight that’s 40-60% of what you would typically lift.
Deload weeks can help you hit new records on lifts and help your body recover. Unfortunately, there is no standard time to add a deload week. It’s best to listen to your body and do them periodically.