In this blog I am going to delve into deloads, whether people train hard enough and if in fact tools like RPE and RTF can be useful.

After reading this blog I hope you’ll have a clearer understanding of what deloads are and how you can best use them, as well as how to monitor your training intensity to help you continue progressing towards your goals.

 

Why deload?

A deload refers to a period of time where training intensity and volume is reduced in order to allow sufficient recovery from hard, consistent training. Implemented correctly, deloads can really support long-term progress.

Given that resistance training is a stress on the body, deloads can be really important.

After all, continued build-up of stress could result in poor recovery, overtraining or even injury.

Deloads would normally be installed every 4-6 weeks within a training program but of course this depends on your individual plan, goals and importantly how hard you are training.

However, it’s important to train hard and do so consistently to really warrant a deload.

If someone deloads every four weeks but in the three weeks previous doesn’t train with enough intensity, it could be questioned if a deload is truly necessary for that individual.

There might also be weeks where you aren’t able to get to the gym as often as you would like, perhaps you’re away on holiday or a little under the weather. In these instances, you’re already deloading by default.

One way to ensure you train hard enough to warrant a deload is measuring intensity.

 

RPE and RTF

In order to periodise your training, tools such as RPE (rate of perceived exertion) or RTF (reps to failure) can be great. They allow you to scale intensity and ensure progress whilst preventing overtraining or regression.

RPE refers to how hard you are working within a given exercise, using a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest intensity.

RTF works a little differently, it refers to how far from failure you are working. For example, RTF-2 means that at the end of your set, you still have enough in the tank for a further two reps before reaching absolute failure.

Both RPE and RTF have their place, but it could be argued that RTF is easier for people to get their heads around rather than RPE. If someone asked you what 7/10 RPE feels like I bet, you would struggle to imagine it compared to what 1 rep away from failure feels like (RTF -1).

However, all of these are completely arbitrary if you don’t know what failure feels like.

The idea is great in concept but only if the trainer can gauge their own training intensity well enough for RPE or RTF to work properly.

 

Learning to fail

When was the last time you got stuck under a squat?

When was the last time you did a lat pull down and you felt like your lats were going to explode with the amount of tension and fatigue built up over the set?

You may think your best on bench is 90kg x10 reps. However, if someone stuck a gun to your head and said do 1 more I bet you could.

That’s what failure, RTF-0 and RPE 10 are. The point at which you genuinely cannot give anymore.

Nothing less.

Now I am not saying you stick a gun to your head when you train haha.  But every so often training with a friend or training partner can be really useful to push each other to complete failure and bring the highest level of intensity possible.

Of course, failure isn’t just not being able to complete another rep. It can also be when form breaks down and the given muscle isn’t being worked any more.

Once you really understand what failure is, deloading, RTF or RPE can start to become really useful tools and support you in achieving good gains.

If you have read this and feel you could well be guilty of any of the above, do not fear.

I always think it’s good to find out you can improve something or become more optimal. Reason being, once you have installed the new changes and tweaks who knows what you can achieve?

Whether you have realised that you don’t train as hard as you think, or perhaps you do but don’t use deloads, it doesn’t matter. Put into action all of the above and you can expect to see some consistent progress with your training whilst ensuring your body recovers.

Any questions to the above comment below and I will get back to you.

Coach Chris