I would appreciate an answer from someone who actually has experience with this practice and not someone who has just read what a "deload" is on the Internet.

I recently read up on DOMS after a three-day-long multi-muscle-group 2-to-3 hour routine (basically just doing everything in multiple sets of 3, 5, and 8), and when you get to the point where picking up lint off the floor pierces your leg muscles to the bone or lifting things off the top shelf of the pantry is difficult you kinda begin to consider the practice of deloading. I usually try to keep my gym patronage to 2-to-3 times a week. Anyway, I mention DOMS because the idea there (supposedly) is that practicing on top of the pain promotes muscle growth, which I've seen progress in personally, but what my main concern is is this:

Is it better to reduce reps/weight by some percent (deload) after DOMS or take a rest day (or couple of days) and continue at a full load after recovery (or even more days with an upped load)?

I'd like an answer that covers two types of people:

(1) 85kg bulking cross-fiter type just trying to stay healthy and strong (no competition stress)

(2) 85kg olympic weightlifting type (competition stress)


1 Answer 1


Deloading should, ideally, be planned and deliberate part of a training cycle. It typically happens every 4-8 weeks depending on fitness level and training intensity. The idea is to give the body an extended period of recovery and be completely fresh to start a new training cycle. You can typically tell when it's coming time because you'll start feeling constantly exhausted and weak. You may even start failing to complete workouts and seeing numbers go down.

When the deload finally hits, you do the same things at a reduced volume and weight. In severe cases, you may just take a full week off.

Your issue sounds a bit different. You have DOMs that are so severe that is borders on injury (if it isn't a straight up injury). That typically happens when going way too hard and way too fast without giving your body enough time to adapt to increased training loads.

So here's a couple rules that are good to follow.

If the DOMs are so severe that it impedes your ability to complete a workout, then you treat it as an injury. You sit back, heal, then try again and a lower intensity and build up. You'll just have to live with the fact that you're not at that level yet.

If the DOMs are more of a nuisance and you're not impeded, then continue on.


In regards to #1 and #2. The main difference is how to deload. People prepping for a competition should probably use a deload to practice and get better in technique. You do the same movements, but in a 10-20% drop in weight. It also helps in that it ensures you never have any downtime (which can lead to severe DOMs when they get back to full volume as mentioned earlier).

People not prepping for a competition have more leeway in how they deload. They just have to do how they feel best suits them.

  • How can I heal faster? Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 3:27
  • @twoblacklinesinthemiddle Get a full night's sleep and eat enough calories. Other than that you have to wait it out.
    – DeeV
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 3:45
  • @twoblacklinesinthemiddle I've found that doing the same exercise as the one that caused the DOMS in the first place, but at a much lower volume (so a lot less weight for less sets / reps) helps with DOMS somewhat.
    – Dark Hippo
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 9:52
  • @DarkHippo, yeah I tried that out yesterday (more reps less weight), and I'm not so sore today. Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 17:34
  • Isn't this the "Bulgarian method"? Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 7:29

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