Periodization and Why You Need to Use It

Are you interested in working on your athletic goals, but you do not know how to start? You are not alone. Most people have no idea where to start, but it just takes the right strategy.

There are so many workout plans and diets out there today that are claiming wild results. Yet, they do not seem to work. Most likely, that is because they are missing the regular change that is required for change to occur. You cannot do a strength or hypertrophy cycle indefinitely any more than you can be on a cut forever. Eventually, your body becomes ‘immune’ to what you are doing, and stops making progress. You need to change it up every once in awhile by separating your program into different periods.

This is known as periodization.

Periodization has allowed many people to reach their fitness goals safely and effectively. Anyone who is anyone in the fitness world uses it to one degree or another, from the big guy at the gym to Olympic athletes, CrossFitters, and StrongMen competitors.

Whether you are getting ready for a marathon or just getting fit, using a periodized schedule will definitely help you along.

What is Periodization?

Many people have to ask “what is periodization training” because it is a subject that isn’t always talked about, unless you are speaking with someone super into fitness, a trainer, or a coach.

Periodization training is a workout strategy where you change training variables to get the best result. This means implementing different training methods as your workout plan goes on to enhance efficacy. 

Many people choose to use a periodized training program as it helps prevent overtraining while optimizing competitive performance. It has been used for activities such as weightlifting, cycling, and running.

Periodization Benefits 

When beginners are setting fitness goals they often do not factor in adapting or recovering, and most likely do not plan to switch up their training on a regular basis. This normally results in plateauing

Periodized training benefits anyone in fitness by helping them progress while lessening the chances of hurting themselves. It also combats burnout in gym-goers and athletes alike, since the work being done changes pretty regularly.  

The Three Phases of Periodization

There are three main phases within any Periodized training schedule. 

1. Macrocycles

This refers to the overall program. It can last for about a year or longer if the athlete is an Olympian. Macrocycles are the big picture. 

2. Mesocycles

These are commonly 4 or 6-week cycles. They most often involve a few weeks of progressive training followed by a week of lower intensity training.

They also tend to focus on one specific goal such as power, muscle growth, or strength. 

3. Microcycles

Microcycles often last a week or less. They may have different intensities depending on the training day. 

While this may sound like the way you change your workout routine when you are bored, this is not that. Microcycles, and all the cycles up the chain, are pre-planned and based on the strategy to help you in the long run. 

Methods of Periodization

The three main types of periodization are non-linear, linear, and reverse. Each method is effective in different ways, and combining them might be even more effective.

1. Undulating or Non-Linear

Non-linear periodization is sometimes regarded as the best method of periodization for athletes. Especially when competing in triathlons. 

It involves volume and load changes quite frequently such as daily or once per week. Often, the load increases and the volume decreases. 

During each mesocycle of non-linear periodization, you would change the exercise and workout order.

Your first few weeks may have endurance, strength, and hypertrophy goals on different days. On the next mesocycle, you would switch these goals to different days.

2. Linear

Linear periodization involves changing your load and volume every one to four months. Each cycle has weeks of progressively increasing intensity until finishing with a light recovery week. 

The traditional linear plan has four mesocycles. It starts with hypertrophy and endurance. Then moves to basic strength. Next comes the power phase. Finally is the transition period. 

The linear periodization method is great because your body can adapt slowly. This means no burnout and a low risk of injuring oneself

3. Reverse

Reverse periodization is a version of non-linear periodization. The difference is it’s in reverse. Instead of the load increasing it decreases, and instead of the volume decreasing it increases. 

Some say that reverse periodization is great for athletes who are competing in marathons with long distances. Yet, most studies have not found any significant difference between different methods of periodization. 

There are a few other methods of periodization as well, such as block and flexible linear, but they aren’t as popular as the three above.

Periodization Training for Cardio

For running, periodization is a recommended training method. It helps runners increase their distance. They can use a training scheme that involves hills, sprints, and intervals. 

This will help them work up to their marathon or other running competition. They may also choose to increase their intensity as their runs get shorter to enhance their strength.  

For cycling, a training period might use hills, long distances, and sprint work. One way to prepare for a long bike ride is to start with shorter, intensified rides and gradually work towards longer, less intense rides. 

For swimming, the training is similar. If you are interested in being able to swim long distances, start with short, intensive swimming workouts. Then, as you get closer to the end of your mesocycles use less intense workouts. 

Reach Your Fitness Goals

If you don’t train like an athlete, you are unlikely to have the endurance or strength of an athlete. Adapting to different fitness levels is essential to safely meet your target.

Reaching your fitness goals is a long process that takes effort. If going to the gym every day and doing similar workouts is not working for you, switch to a periodized program to help bust through that plateau.

Let Us help You Out

At CONDITIONerd we are here to help you achieve better physical and mental health through exercise. Check out the plans we offer to our customers and see if you could benefit from working with our team. And if you have questions, you can always contact a CONDITIONerd team member

Personal trainers, like those found here, can help guide you on your pathway towards reaching your fitness goals, whether that is getting bigger, stronger, faster, more lean, or just generally feeling better.

We can get you setup with a periodized workout plan, supplement information, and advice on nutrition to help you reach your goals.

The only thing you need is some motivation and a willingness to change some old habits.

Get into contact with us to find out what membership is right for you. In a CONDITIONerd program, you’ll be surrounded by others who can help you to get where you want to be.

Generally, our clients start to see some pretty awesome changes in 2-3 months time, some sooner.

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