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Training variables: Periodization

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Do you like to vary the rep ranges on your workout programs or do you prefer to stick to one?

Not many people have heard of this tool but it´s key to creating workout programs that gives you great results without hitting plateaus.

We know that variation is key to keep results consistently but for beginners it´s not necessary to keep changing their workouts every month, the more advanced and trained we become with time the more we need to add variation to our program even every week.

Most traditional fitness programs that use periodization use the basic or classic form that takes 2 to 3 months to complete where changes come every month, this can work great for people who is starting out in weight lifting but it´s not the best option for advanced guys and we can´t go too long with the same program. If we keep doing what we´re doing for a long period of time our body adapts and hits a plateau.

For periodization we are changing the rep ranges to hit strength and hypertrophy and we also change volume, we get stronger and bigger and results keep showing up daily, depending of the time we´ve been training is how we create a program using periodization, if we are starting out we can begin lifting lighter weights on the 12 to 15 rep ranges, we need to focus on learning the exercise and proper form, we can stay with this rep range for 3 to 4 weeks and then increase weight to hit 10 to 12 reps for 3 to 4 weeks and increase weight to hit 8 reps, at this point we must be more comfortable doing the exercises with proper form which is what´s going to help us avoid injuries.

If we are more advance it may be necessary to change reps every 2 or 3 weeks before our body adapts, if we have been training for many years we may need to change rep ranges every week, so a cycle can last 4 weeks and every time we begin the cycle again we must be able to lift heavier weights. On the first week we lift on the 12 to 15 rep range, the next week we increase weight to hit the 10 to 12 rep range, the next one we increase weight again to hit 8 to 10 reps and finally increase weight to hit 5 to 7 reps and start the cycle again.

If we set periodization this way we can keep the same exercises for a couple of months, periodization and progressive overload are both great tools and variables we can adjust to build muscle. Creating a program that last 3 to 4 months is the way to go, that program most include periodization adjusted to our level and variation also according to our level. If we don´t have a plan we can get lost, having a plan that tells us exactly what to do every day keeps everything simple.

Periodization can also be used with volume, we start with low volume, the next week go moderate volume, the next week we go high volume and the last week we go back to low volume. It´s almost impossible to keep volume high for weeks and weeks so this variable gives us the opportunity to go high in volume a couple of weeks and then lower it to give our body time to recover.

The way I prefer to use this variable is use it for rep ranges and volume it doesn´t matter what frequency I´m working on. Using periodization for reps gives us the opportunity to work on different rep ranges in the same workout program so in some workouts we work on one type of hypertrophy and other workouts on strength. Using it for volume helps us increase volume to make sure that we are giving our body the right stimulus to grow and then give it some weeks to recover so that we don´t over train or burn out.

As we get more trained we need to add variation to keep making gains, this is possible by playing with all the variables one at a time so we have a big number of combinations to make sure we don´t get bored and our body don´t adapt.

Periodization is the most complicated variable to adjust especially if we want to combine rep ranges and volume but it´s the best we can do to get the best results possible especially for muscle growth. It can also be used for fat loss if we have been training for some years but in this case using it for rep ranges only, keeping volume the same and moderate frequency is a great tool also.

As you can see, training can get a little complex in the beginning but once we understand all training variables it´s easy to create a workout program for our goals, we want to keep it simple and adjust some variables accordingly.

Share with us your thoughts on this variable and how you are using it. Leave your comment in the comment section below!

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Pam