The more consistently you exercise the more variety and variables you need to introduce to your training in order to continue to achieve strength gains, fat loss, or muscular endurance. A way to systematically carry on progression and combat plateaus is through a training method called periodization.
In short, periodization training focuses on increasing or decreasing volume, intensity, and varying the weight load during a set time period. The results can translate into a boost in strength, the addition of more lean muscle, more defined physique, or an increase in calories burned.
Some key terms to know for this training method:
Macrocycle: A long-term training period that can last anywhere from six months to a year (and sometimes longer).
Mesocycle: The divisions of a macrocycle, which are often broken up by increments of several weeks to a few months.
Microcycle: The divisions of a mesocycle, which are typically spaced about a week apart.
If you’re new to periodization training, here’s how you can make it work for you …
#1. Classic Periodization
Also known as linear periodization, classic periodization follows a low intensity to high intensity regimen across the macrocycle. How long the macrocycle lasts depends on your goals. Olympians, for example, would want to peak near the four-year mark when they compete. As noted, you may target six months to a year.
You’ll first look to improve strength through high reps and low weight for the first mesocycle. Then you’ll increase the weight load at the start of each microcycle thereafter. As you move forward in your training, decrease the number of reps per set and up the weight used. The final stage — the power stage — is all about heavy weight, low reps, and little rest.
#2. Reverse Periodization
You’re going in reverse order from the classic version. It’s a great method for endurance athletes or bodybuilders focused on hypertrophy (muscle growth) and muscle mass. The first mesocycle would include 8-10 reps of each exercise with moderate weight to start. You will progress to higher volume and more sets as you advance. Your final two mesocycles may end with reps as high as 15-20 and 25-30, respectively.
#3. Undulating Periodization
This is different from the previous two forms of periodization and typically follows a two-week mesocycle that includes up to four different workouts. For everyday and competitive athletes, this is probably the best bet to make gains in the short term. It also offers the most flexibility. Intensity and rep schemes vary from workout to workout, and when you’ve successfully completed a mesocycle, you start over from the top. For example, Monday may be an endurance day, Wednesday a full-body workout, and Friday a strength-gain workout. The following week, that can change.
Essentially, undulating periodization is simply a less structured — but still highly effective — way to achieve attainable training goals. Ensure that you get the most out of practicing periodization by utilizing the NSF certified sports supplements from P4!