Structured programs have progression with a target. They also typically have scheduled periods with reduced training load.
The Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning explain the purpose of a deload week as an opportunity “to prepare the body for the increased demand of the next phase or period,” and to mitigate the risk of overtraining.
Without a deload week a trainee might experience one or a combination of the following.
- Incomplete recovery revealed via HRV or other objective means.
- Strength athletes: Weaknesses and poor performance with training loads that were manageable a week or two prior.
- Track athletes: Slower running times, efficiency test or other performance metric
- Infection (sinus infection, flu, IBS)
- Loss of appetite or changes in hunger signals
- Lingering soreness
- Training Plateau
- Lack of desire to train
I don't always prescribe a deload, but I like to keep tabs on personal records during training and competition for the same purpose.
This is purely from observation study, but I have noticed some athletes are more prone to injury and illness shortly after making a personal best in training or competition. There is usually a competition taper. The week following should be the inverse with gradual increases in training load.
Consider your current training. Be honest. You're not superman. You'll eventually need a deload week.
If you have just hit a personal record pump the brakes. Disaster could be just around the corner.