Jul 13, 2018
It's a fact of life - training isn't always going to go how you like. Whether it's an arduous work schedule, travel, sickness, or any other reason, you will miss training sessions from time to time. If you are training rather than exercising, however, there's a model for regaining the lost ground during that time period. It's called a deload, and it's a useful tool in our training arsenal.
As the name suggests, a deload is simply a term we use to describe a reduction in load, or intensity, of the workouts in a training cycle. Even though we call it a de-"load," it can also apply to volume.
When you miss training, there's no stress being applied to stimulate physical adaptation per the Stress-Recovery-Adaptation cycle, thus detraining occurs. How much detraining depends on the length of the layoff, the reason for it (i.e. sickness will detrain you more than a vacation, especially if you lose weight), and how advanced the trainee is. Generally speaking, more advanced trainees will detrain less than more novice trainees. Age plays a big role too; as many Starting Strength Coaches have observed, older trainees tend to deload quickly without intensity in their training.
So, deloads are both a necessary and inevitable part of training. It's not a negative thing either! Deloading can be a good time to iron out technique issues that have crept up, or dissipate accumulated fatigue from the end of a strenuous training cycle.