Muscle for life

MFL Podcast 68: When to deload/rest and why

MFL Podcast 68: When to deload/rest and why

In this episode I talk all about “deloading” and/or taking time off the gym: how to know when you should, why it’s necessary, how to do it right, and more…


How to Prevent Overtraining With the Deload Week

How Much Cardio You Should Do (and How Much Is Too Much)

How to Measure and Improve Your Body Composition

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  • Robin

    Hi Mike!

    Awesome video looking forward to more 🙂

    On to the question, next week I’m onto my week 2 of the Year one Challenge. I’ve been bulking, had a hard time eating so much since I’ve been in somewhat of a deficit when it comes to food.

    Now, can it hurt me anyhow to take one or two days of when I feel like it or when I feel like I’ve overtrained? Still taking supplements and eating enough, but will I become weaker maybe?


    • Thanks!

      Yeah, it can take a bit to get used to the amount you need to eat.

      I actually recommend taking off 1-2 days a week. Yep, keep everything the same during your off days (except pre-workout).

      You shouldn’t lose any strength doing it either.

  • Nikola

    Hey Mike whats your opinion on reducing volume while cutting?Like everyone suggest that you can easily maintain by reducing volume for 2/3 or 1/3..


    • Yeah it’s fine. Many people drop to 3 heavy workouts per week plus cardio when cutting.

      • Vespin

        I see. Well when I was bulking I did 5 heavy sets for my push/pull days and 3 sets for legs day as well as shoulder day. But now that I’m cutting, I should only do heavy 3 sets per week? Given my previous bulking routine how do I reduce the volume?

        • I like doing 5 workouts per week when cutting simply for the energy expenditure and I enjoy working out. 🙂

          So up to you…

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  • James Buckley

    Training intensity is a massive issue here. In my experience it’s possible to burn out fast if/when taking too many sets all the way to momentary muscular failure – even if the training volume is low. Adding further intensity (drop sets, forced reps) can be (figuratively) lethal.

    Another huge issue is health status. I have a thyroid problem and if I tried one week of the BLS program I’d need a month off!

    Note that the role of thyroid in hard training is too much ignored: http://www.hormones.gr/752/article/thyroid-hormonal-responses-to-intensive-interval….html

    Mike, I’m guessing your thyroid levels are at the upper end! You seem to have some impressive exercise tolerance, and with 6 hours sleep a night!!??

    Robin, my advice is take the time off (ideally in a planned fashion), or adjust your training so you don’t feel overtrained or feel the need to take time off too often. Lifting is a lifelong thing. Hold off sometimes. Stay hungry. If you don’t, you get older and find something wearing or broken.

    • Great comment James. Thanks.

      You know I’ve never gotten blood work done but I would assume my thyroid levels are high, yes.

  • Tom

    Great content once again. If it weren’t for this, I don’t think I’d take time off…but I think it’s time I admit my nervous system needs it. So if I go for a week without training, what do I do with my diet? It’s going to coincide with week 2 of exceeding my caloric intake by 5%-10% after finishing reverse dieting.

    • Thanks Tom! I hear you. I don’t like taking time off either.

      IMO eat TDEE.

      • Tom

        I should say “thank you” more often after you answer all my questions, but I think I’m doing you MORE of a favor by not giving you too many comments to respond to. That being said, thank you once again for answering all our comments. Some of us live our complete lifestyle based on your advice, so it really does have an affect on how we spend nearly every waking and sleeping hour. It’s so good to see you take it seriously and don’t ever just crush someone’s hopes and dreams in your responses.

  • Andrew

    Mike, I’m unable to deadlift or squat due to knee and back issues but go heavy on everything else (almost to failure on all my work sets). Do I still need to de-load?

    • Yeah. It’s still a good idea. Your body still needs a break, and it’ll help you continue to make gains.

  • Sarah Sanderson

    Excellent just what I needed to hear. I’m currently on a de-load week after debating whether to do this for about a month after feeling like I wasn’t making progress, suffering joint pain and not sleeping well at all. I’ve had 4 days off so far and my sleep has improved dramatically and my joints feel a lot better. May do a light bike ride today and do some light weights in the gym tomorrow. Thanks Mike 🙂

    • That’s great! Definitely sounds like you needed it!

      My pleasure. 🙂

      • Sarah Sanderson

        Can’t wait to get back to my routine on Monday now 🙂

  • Bruce Wayne

    So if I’m doing StrongLifts 5×5, and I have stalled on one of the lifts, but instead of deloading the weight by 10% and building back up like you’re supposed to, can I deload volume?

    So say I have stalled on Bench Press at 185 lb for x/5/5/5/5/4. So instead of deloading to 165 lb 5×5, can I just do 185 lb 2×5 for a few workouts and then try 5×5 again?

  • sean_noonan

    Hey would you recommend to up calories to maintenance when deloading while cutting or is muscle loss not really an issue

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