Post Competition Deloading

By: Daniel Dalenberg

So you have just finished up a meet and now aren’t quite sure how to deload, recover and start back into training. There are a lot of ways to accomplish this and it is dependent on how the meet went as well as when you are competing again. The deload structure that I will be describing here assumes you finished the meet, didn’t get injured (in any significant way at least) and won’t be competing again for 13+ weeks.


I will preface this by reiterating that taking a few weeks off isn’t going to kill your strength levels. You aren’t going to shrivel up and lose all your muscle mass. You won’t move backwards. The body was just put through the ringer, beat up and abused. Give it enough time to heal and set yourself up for success in the next training cycle.

Week 1

Ideally, very little physical activity. After the 2016 Arnold Classic, my wife and I went to Las Vegas and this turned out to be a nice way to spend that first week. I didn’t lift at all but we did walk a ton. My body felt better and better each day as a result of just getting up and moving around. That first week after the meet just walk and do the McGill Big 3. If you are at the gym, it better be to just spot, load and coach.

Week 2

Now I start to include some weight training. I’m still walking every training session. This week add in high volume, low intensity machine work and some light dumbbell work. No barbells yet and minimal spinal loading. Again, give your body and your back some time to rest and heal.

Week 3

Now I start to include some barbells, but I stick to specialty bars that will continue to give my joints a break. I will squat with either a buffalo bar or safety bar, bench with a Swiss bar and if I pull at all; it will be off a high block. The volume is still on the higher side and the intensity low.

Week 4

Here is where I recommend starting your actual off-season. Now you might start using straight bars again and the weights will be a little heavier (but still pretty light, probably in the RPE 6-7 range). Your body has had a good chance to recover by now and you should be ready to start actually training again.

Final Thoughts

The worst time to push hard is when the body is beat up and just barely holding on. Anyone who has done a full meet can attest to how run down their body feels right afterwards. Rather than continuing that beating and risking serious injury while not allowing for adequate recovery, give your body and mind a break. Stay home. Go on a trip. Stay out of the gym. You’ll be better for it.

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Daniel Dalenberg

Dan Dalenberg is a pro level raw and equipped powerlifter with elite totals in the 220, 242 and 275 class. Best official raw meet lifts include an 804 squat, 507 bench press, 715 dead lift and 2006 total. Best equipped lifts include an 950 squat, 715 bench, 735 deadlift and 2400 total at 242. Dan has been training under Brian's guidance using the 10/20/Life methodology since late 2010.
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