Deload: How To Break Your Plateau And Start Building Muscle Again

Deload: How To Break Your Plateau And Start Building Muscle Again

Find out what you should do when your 1RM goes down to break your plateau, recover, and start building strength and muscle again.


Cut sets 50%. Cut weights 10%. Slowly work back up. With Dr. Muscle, you’ll do that automatically.


  • In a study, Ogasawara et al. (2013) divided 14 young men at random into 2 groups. Both groups trained for 6 months. Group 1 trained non-stop. Group 2 trained 6 weeks on / 3 weeks off. At the end of the study, both groups improved strength and hypertrophy in a similar fashion. This suggests that deloading won’t slow down your gains.
  • Based on years of practice, Rippetoe and Baker (2014) recommend cutting weights 10% when you hit a plateau. This has worked well in my experience.
  • In a review, Pritchard et al. (2015) recommended that you reduce volume by 30–70% for 1-4 weeks to improve performance.

Practical Applications

When you train with Dr. Muscle, you’ll cut sets 50% and weights 10% as soon as you hit a plateau (your 1RM goes down). This is done automatically for you inside the app.

Cutting sets 50% will reduce your volume 50% instantly. You will add volume and work back up starting the next workout, so your reduced volume will last less than the 4 weeks recommended by Pritchard et al. (2015).

The sames goes for your weights. You’ll cut them 10% and work back up. If you train an exercise 3 times a week and you only improve 1% (the minimum recommended in Dr. Muscle), you’ll return to your old 1RM after 10 workouts (3.3 weeks). At that point, after having recovered, on your 11th workout, you should smash a new record.


Rippetoe M, Baker A. Practical Programming for Strength Training, 3rd ed. The Aasgaard Company. 2014. 256 pages.

Ogasawara R, Yasuda T, Ishii N, Abe T. Comparison of muscle hypertrophy following 6-month of continuous and periodic strength training. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Apr;113(4):975-85.

Pritchard H, Keogh J, Barnes M, Michael M. Effects and Mechanisms of Tapering in Maximizing Muscular Strength. Strength & Conditioning Journal. 2015 Apr;37(2):72–83.