Deloading in Maximum Strength

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Q: I am just finishing up Phase 1 of Maximum Strength, and I have a few questions about the loading.

1. When we have deload weeks, like in week 4, do we decrease the load or  is the decreased volume you prescribed the actual deload? I find myself increasing the load on weeks 2 and 4 to compensate for the decreased volume, but I have a feeling I am defeating the whole purpose of the deload.

2. When we are doing our sets, should we try to keep the same load for each set, or do we work up to a RM on our last set?

A:  With respect to your first question, you are definitely doing the right thing. The best answer I can give is to get stronger! And, you will! So, if the reps go down, the weights should go up. And, if the reps stay the same, the weights should still (hopefully) go up.

There are exceptions to this rule, of course – particularly as you get more and more advanced or have a previous history of injury. It’d be worth picking up a copy of my Art of the Deload e-book for details for only $12.99:


As for your second question, I’d keep working up and only count the stuff that’s at or above 90% of your best working weight for the day.  So, let’s say you’re doing three sets of three reps on front squats, and your progression goes something like this:

45×5, 95×3, 135×3, 165×3, 185×3, 200×3 (heaviest you can go, you discover)

So, you work backward from that 200 pounds to find that 90% of it is 180 pounds.  So, the only two sets that have “counted” thus far are 185 and 200 – so you need to do one more set between 180 and 200 pounds to finish up the 3×3.

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