I thought I’d list out a few commonly used 4 week blocks showing how they incorporate a deload or unloading week. If you missed Part I of the series yesterday you can check it out here.
USA Weightlifting recommends a 4 week performance cycle that deloads in week 3 prior to a performance week. This is one of their commonly used 4 week blocks.
Week 1 – Base % Example: 70% 4×5
Week 2 – (+5%) Volume Ex: 75% 5×5
Week 3 – (-5%) Recovery Ex: 65% 4×4
Week 4 – (+10%) Performance Ex: 80% 6×3
Coach Kenn in his Tier System uses several different variations and lists them out in his book. The first is a linear loading scheme with a peak in week 3 followed by a deload in week 4.
Week 1 – (-10%) Example: 70%
Week 2 – (-5%) Ex: 75%
Week 3 – (Top %) Ex: 80%
Week 4 – (-15%) Ex: 65%
Another one of Coach Kenn’s examples follows the USA Weightlifting format in that week 3 becomes a deload prior to a performance week.
Week 1 – (-15%) Example: 70%
Week 2 – (-7.5%) Ex: 77.5%
Week 3 – (-20 %) Ex: 65%
Week 4 – (-Top%) Ex: 85%
The following is taken from Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program. In this program Jim uses a 4 week block comparable to the first example of Coach Kenn’s linear loading. The first three weeks are somewhat of a max effort followed by a deload on week 4.
Week 1 – 85% x 5+
Week 2 – 90% x 3+
Week 3 – 95% x 1+
Week 4 – 60% x 5
Several years ago when I was reading a lot about Westside training, Louie Simmons used to have his powerlifters perform 3 weeks of Max Effort work followed by 1-2 weeks of a deload in which they commonly performed 4×20 on the DB Bench Press.
I generally follow the concept that the body adapts to an exercise after 3 weeks. After that 3 weeks we have to change the stimulus in some way to cause further adaptation.
“To adapt is not to adapt.” – Louie Simmons
During our in-season blocks I often only utilize 3 week blocks with deloads happening on week 3. I would rather undertrain than overtrain during the season. I think 2 weeks followed by a deload is appropriate for our situation due to the demands of the baseball season. Our conference dictates that we travel West 1 and 2 time zones during the season. This doesn’t make recovery and restoration easy when players are on the road for 4 days straight. They usually don’t return back from games until 4 and 5 A.M. on a Monday morning in which they have to go to class, have practices, etc. This happens almost every other weekend and sometimes two or three weeks in a row.
One of in-season cycles might go like this:
Week 1: Base % Example: 70%
Week 2: Load (+5%) 75%
Week 3: Deload (-7.5%) 67.5%
Week 4: Base % 72.5%
Week 5: Load (+5%) 77.5%
Week 6: Deload (-7.5%) 70%
Regardless of what scenario is used, deload weeks are an important aspect of any training. There are a multitude of variations that one can use and each has advantages and disadvantages. Coaches have to formulate one that is unique for their current situation and goals.