Many are familiar with this problem. You've been training for a while and are making less and less progress in the gym. Plateaus can no longer be broken through, and your muscle growth stagnates.
At this point, you should consider whether your training plan makes sense in the long run for your goals. Periodizing your training may help!
- Clear planning and goal setting
- Division of your training into different cycles
- Improved muscle growth
- Increase in strength
- Long term progression
What is the fundamental principle of periodization in strength training?
Periodization is the systematic planning of training to achieve maximum progression in different phases. More precisely, you change training parameters (e.g., number of sets or degree of effort) in a systematic way within a cycle.
This way, a calculated change of intensity and repetition ranges takes place within a certain period. Periodization's primary goal is to continuously increase performance and prevent stagnation.
Maximum progression in this context can mean both an increase in strength and an acceleration of muscle gain.
Three cycle phases
Periodization usually consists of three time windows.
- Macrocycle: It covers the entire training year. This time frame is the starting point for your goal setting and determines the requirements and performance expectations.
- Mesocycle: It covers the period of several weeks or months. Here, exercises can be exchanged to avoid possible stagnation.
- Microcycle: It represents the daily and weekly rhythm. It includes the training plan in terms of duration, number of sessions, split, and achievement of short-term goals.
You can use these cycles to plan your training long-term. First, set your primary goal for the macrocycle. The following example serves as an illustration.
You are currently pressing 75 kg for 8 repetitions and want to comfortably achieve 100 kg for 8 repetitions within the next twelve months.
So you have clearly defined your goal for the macrocycle. Let us now divide this into mesocycles. In this example, the macrocycle consists of 10 mesocycles of 5 weeks (microcycles) each.
Within each mesocycle, increase your Bench Press weight by 2.5 kg. This may not seem like much at the time, but it's how you achieve progression. Your body will adapt to the load, and you will slowly but surely get stronger.
However, make sure that the exertion level does not put too much strain on your body or energy reserves. You are better off leaving 2-4 reps in reserve (RIR) to avoid premature exhaustion during the mesocycle.
Three different types of periodization
Different forms of periodization exist. Each variant has its own approaches and characteristics. Thus, strength training athletes of all experience levels can select the version that brings them the best benefits.
- Linear periodization: The volume, training intensity, and working weight continuously increase over several mesocycles. The goal is progressive overload to improve your performance one step at a time. Linear periodization is suitable for beginners and advanced strength training athletes.
- Non-linear periodization: Here, the various parameters are adjusted to a wider extent to ensure optimal stimulation. Thus, volume and exercises can be partially adjusted from week to week. The focus here is more on the optimization of individual parameters. Experienced athletes can explicitly set certain gears in motion here to improve further.
- Block periodization: Here, the aim is to push to the maximum performance level available as often as possible. Therefore, this periodization type is divided into blocks of two to four weeks. There is a constant increase in intensity. This intensity is defined relative to the 1RM (One Rep Max).
Primary goals and benefits
Periodization of training improves continuous progression by allowing the body to adapt to the increased load. The subdivision into individual cycles enables long-term planning and goal setting. This way, an athlete’s strength (number of repetitions and maximum strength) can be increased in a targeted manner over a longer period.
If you can bench press the same weight for two more reps in this mesocycle, you will notice a substantial strength increase in the next.
New stimuli are also constantly being applied. This promotes hypertrophy and muscle growth. More muscle mass, in this case, also means training with a greater load for further strength development.
Deload is the key to success
To train effectively in the long term, doing a so-called deload at the end of each mesocycle is advisable. During this one-week phase, the training intensity is reduced. This allows for improved recovery and rest for the body.
You can think of the deload as a wind-down period in which you are still actively training but with significantly less weight. Afterward, you start the next mesocycle with fully fueled energy reserves.
Plan and record your periodization with the Alpha Progression App
When you decide to periodize your workout, recording all the important data accurately is rudimentary. Repetitions, the number of sets, and RIR are the basic parameters that are best to check regularly.
With the Alpha Progression App, you have all important data readily available. Plan your cycles to the last detail to accelerate your muscle growth and strength.
If you want to train successfully and effectively long term, you should definitely consider periodizing your training. To become sustainably stronger and accelerate your muscle growth as efficiently as possible, you should consider all this with your goals in mind.
Through targeted periodization, you have all cycles optimally structured. You can plan and manipulate all the necessary parameters individually. It will undoubtedly pay off if you actively deal with this topic and are willing to invest a little time in the implementation.