Friday, April 2, 2010

Periodization = Changing Your Workout's Sets and Reps with the Same Eventual Goal

I was flipping through my workouts that I completed during my masters program (last 2 years) and since I got my current job in May 2009... I noticed something peculiar. Out of the rough 148 weeks that I have been training since I arrived at UK, I only completed 15 weeks of sets of 12 reps (mainly focusing on hypertrophy, which is increase in muscle size).

Periodization can be linear (seen above) in which volume graduallt decreases and intensity of your workouts gradually increases to peak at your season, spring break, competition, or some other random end point) or undulating, seen below, in which intensity increases, but the ride looks more like a roller coaster, with dips and small peaks before the highest peak at the end.


Aside from those 15 weeks (only 10% of my training since august 2007) I have been focused on strength. All my core, structural lifts (bench, squat and all its variations, deadlift, and all back movements) had been 4-6 sets of 6 or less repetitions... needless to say my periodization graph would look more like a horizontal line at a high intensity with a couple of twitches in it.

I am not a fan of lifting for high reps, but I should be... at least for a couple months a year. I love the shock undulating periodization gives to your body. If some skinhead looking guy approached me with this past programming, I would smack him in his fat head and tell him that you (and more importantly your joints) need some type of break from going heavy on every lift ALL THE TIME.

Now I'm sure there are some nay-sayers out there that never, EVER go for higher reps. I can only assume that they have their fair share of injuries as well. I am not talking about one set of 25 reps per exercise... that would be moving you into an endurance program for some one that could care less about any real type of results. I do not mean 5 sets of 20 reps--- you might as well shoot yourself. I am talking about 3-5 sets of 10-12 repetitions, with a drop set once a week per muscle group.

I am on week three of my high rep month and hitting every exercise as hard as I can, knowing that my master plan is playing itself out. I want to be strong... like, what is he taking strong, you know? I don't want to be a powerlifter whose stomach combos as a table/shelf when he sits down. I also don't have any attention of getting super lean (sub 6% body fat). Don't get me wrong, being a giant powerlifter means you work hard, being a body builder that gets to 4% body fat menas you work hard. I want to be around 11% body fat and still be pushing 315 on flat bench for reps.

I am going to do one more week of this high rep scheme and then go to sets of 8's, then 6's, then 5's, at 4-6 weeks at each interval. I will let you kow how it goes. What does your current program look like? Let me know in the comments.


BobW said...

I use a hybrid of block periodization, something called vertical integration. Basically, no element of the block periodization model is dropped completely (so, even during the realization block, there's some accumulation work).

The single biggest thing to help my training is to have a distinct goal - a competition, with known events. Then program a macrocycle to reach that goal.

Rob Sinnott, MS, CSCS, PFT said...

strong man bob-
An event is something that I am lacking so it has been difficult to really think of it as peaking for competition. It helped me scheduling my gym's strength challenge last month, but those will be only once a year. Guess I am going to have to find something to get into.

I appreciate the post big guy, look forward to reading your training posts.


BobW said...


Consider a make-believe event: I've done that, when I didn't want to compete. Basically picked the 5 events I was going to do as a "meet" in my driveway, and then we set up the macrocycle for that.

You're on the right track, I think.

Chase Karnes said...

My current program is 3 full body days. 2 Gym training days and 1 strongman event day.

Reps vary from as low as singles to as high as 15 reps.

Most work is done in the 1-8 rep range for the most part.

I'm a few weeks out from competiting, so I've been training for specific events.

Rob Sinnott, MS, CSCS, PFT said...

I usually max out twice a year so that is my fake event. I need to focus more on making it more of a mental competition... to feel as if I don't want to lose. So far it is working, my squat max has increased 40lbs in the last year and my max raw bench went from 370 to 375.

I am really going to hit deadlift hard this year to get some gains in the "pick up heavy shit" department.

Thanks for the input hoss.

Good to hear you are competing again! Did you find a local gym with strong man equipment (stones, kegs,etc)? I am pretty sure you have a tire... saw a couple videos of you flipping one down a street.

I am looking forward to hearing about your results from the comp.

Thanks fellas, inspirational stuff

Chase Karnes said...

Now we have most all the equipment at the facility I work.

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