Periodization refers to the sequential use of different training stimuli in the shape of exercise selection, volume, intensity, focus and goal of the training, often with the goal of peaking towards a certain competition. By intelligently varying these factors, training results are optimized. 📈
There are different ways of using periodization:
- "Traditional linear periodization": training is structured in blocks with different focus points. For example, you would focus 6 weeks on strength endurance, then 6 weeks on maximal strength, and then 4 weeks on power output. Every block builds on the last one.
- "Undulating periodization" refers to training where volume and intensity go up and down repeatedly. This can happen on a weekly basis (for example: week 1: squats at 70% all week, week 2: 80%, week 3: 75%, week 4: 85%) or on a daily basis (variation within the week, for example: monday at 80%, friday at 75%)
There is mild scientific evidence that periodized training might have benefits over non-periodized training. However, there are some severe limitations to these studies, most notably lack of standardization of overall training volume between compared groups and a limited duration of studies (very few studies go over 12 weeks).
So... what does that mean for you?
I would not recommend you to do any program that has a periodization approach over 3 months unless you meet the following qualifications:
a) ✅ You are in a more advanced training stage and have more problems making improvements.
b) ✅ You stick with a program all the way through and don't miss more than 5% of all sessions. There is very little benefit in doing a periodized program where one phase builds on the other, and then quitting after phase 1.
c) ✅ You should not be someone who gets bored too often. Periodization may use a lot of the same exercises or focus for multiple weeks.
Photo credit to Breaking Muscle
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