Importance of Periodization

By: Mike Aguirre

 

There are many trends, fads, myths and misconceptions about all things related fitness. One in particular is training methods and styles. Periodization is a very important aspect of training. It is more or less taking yourself through different periods or phases of training that highlight different body mechanisms that require your body to adapt to various movements and stress via weights, loads, intensity, volume, sets and reps to keep you from becoming stale and keeping the gains coming. Periodization is a system of training to help prevent overtraining and helping reducing the risk of injury by progressively slowly from one phase to the next. You may have come across yourself stepping into a training facility and putting yourself through a good workout and leave feeling satisfied with your work. Fast forward eight maybe ten weeks later and you find yourself completing that same workout but not leaving feeling the same way. Maybe you feel like you may have left some extra reps on the table or maybe felt like you can do more. Possibly the results that you were seeing after a couple weeks on that program are starting to plateau and you are just stuck trying to switch things ups. That is where periodization and a well-designed program will continue to help your body improve its performance in the weight room and continue to also see those results and gains that you want so badly. Traditionally there are four phases to go through before recycling through the process. Starting out with a foundational phase is a phase to prep the body to weight training. It prepares the ligaments and tendons to lift heavier weights. After you have completed the foundational phase you would continue on to a hypertrophy phase. In this phase the focus is all about building muscle. High reps are performed with a moderate load to challenge, fatigue and stimulate the muscles for that size gain. Your goal is to recruit as many muscle fibers as you can with a steady controlled movement.  After your hypertrophy phase and you have put on some size it will lead you next into a strength phase. Traditionally in this strength phase piggy backs on the hypertrophy phase beginning to build overall muscle but emphasis in overall muscular strength by performing repetitions at heavier weights, higher volume and lower repetitions. Lastly, after your strength phase that will bring you right into the final phase, which is max power/strength. In this phase you are putting it all together from the muscle and strength gains you made from phase 2 and 3 and converting it to explosive power that you can use in your everyday life/sport. This phase primarily focused on Olympic style movements, which include, squats, power clean, dead lift and bench press primarily. All in all you don’t have to get to complex with it. Just train different. Lift weights at different speeds with different loads at different volumes in different ways at different times of the year.

 

Foundational Hypertrophy Strength Max power/strength
Volume 3 sets x 12-15 reps 3-4 sets x 10-12 reps 3-5 sets x 4-6 reps 3-5 sets x 2-5 reps
Intensity Bodyweight-lightweight 50-75% 1RM max 80-90% 1RM max 75-95% 1RM max
Duration 3-4 weeks 4 weeks 4 weeks 3-4 weeks
Rest 30-90 seconds between sets 30-90 seconds between sets 3-5 minutes between sets 3-5 minutes between sets