Deloading practices in strength and physique sports: a cross-sectional survey

David Rogerson, David Nolan, Patroklos Androulakis Korakakis, Velu Immonen, Milo Wolf, Lee Bell

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This study explored the deloading practices of competitive strength and physique athletes. A 55-item anonymised web-based survey was distributed to a convenience-based, cross-sectional sample of competitive strength and physique athletes (n = 246; males = 181 [73.6%], females = 65 [26.4%]; age = 29.5 ± 8.6 years) who had 8.2 ± 6.2 years of resistance training and 3.8 ± 3.1 years of competition experience.

All athletes deloaded within training with energy and fatigue management being the main reasons to do so. The typical duration of a deload was 6.4 ± 1.7 days, integrated into the training programme every 5.6 ± 2.3 weeks. Deloading was undertaken using a proactive, pre-planned strategy (or in combination with an autoregulated approach) and undertaken when performance stalled or during periods of increased muscle soreness or joint aches. Athletes reported that training volume would decrease (through a reduction in both repetitions per set and sets per week), but training frequency would remain unchanged during deloads. Additionally, athletes reported that training intensity (load lifted) would decrease, and effort would be reduced (facilitated through an increase in repetitions in reserve). Athletes would generally maintain the same exercise selection during deloading. For athletes that supplemented deloading with additional recovery modalities (n = 118; 48%), the most reported strategies were massage, static stretching and foam rolling.

Results from this research might assist strength and physique athletes and coaches to plan their deloading. Future research should empirically investigate the findings from this study to further evaluate the potential utility of deloading in strength and physique sports.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26
Number of pages1
JournalSports medicine - open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes

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