Periodization Training for Muscle and Strength

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to improve your endurance, strength, and power while building bigger muscles? Introducing periodization training.

A periodized training program won’t turn you into a track star, powerlifter, and bodybuilder at the same time, but you will see significant gains in these areas. Let’s breakdown what periodization training is, and how you can use periodization training for muscle and strength.

What is Periodization Training?

Periodization training is a broad term used to describe exercise programs and fitness goals for each week (micro), month (meso), and year or training season (macro). 

A periodized training program has a characteristic ascending and repeating training ladder. Each week features new exercise variables, focusing on endurance, hypertrophy, strength, and power, respectively. This type of training can help to avoid plateaus and negative outcomes that are typical with linear loading exercise programs. [1]

Endurance

Physical endurance is your ability to maintain exercise or physical activity until the point of exhaustion. Naturally, this duration will vary depending on the activity. For example, you’ll reach physical exhaustion much faster during a sprint than you would a casual stroll through the park.

Improving muscular endurance can help increase muscle mass and strength. The longer you’re able to sustain a given workload and intensity, the greater the degree of microscopic tears to the tissue. Endurance training doesn’t build muscle and strength; rather, it supports those goals by improving your ability to exercise for the goal-focused prescribed sets, repetitions, and intensity. [2]

Acute Variables for Endurance Workouts

When creating an endurance workout, here are the recommended acute variables to use:

Exercises: 2 to 3 exercises per large muscle group; 1 to 2 exercises for small muscle groups

Sets: 2 to 4 sets of each exercise

Repetitions: 12 to 15 repetitions for each set

Tempo: During each repetition, use the following lifting speed:

  • Concentric Phase: Take 2 seconds to lift the weight
  • Isometric Phase: Take 1 second to pause at the top of the exercise
  • Eccentric Phase: Take 4 seconds to lower the weight 

Amount of Weight: Use 50% to 65% of your one-repetition maximum or the maximum amount of weight that you can bench with perfect form one time

Rest: Give yourself 60 to 90 seconds of rest in between sets

Hypertrophy

Muscle hypertrophy, better known as muscle growth, is causing microscopic tears to the muscle tissue and following up with proper recovery methods such as proper nutrition in order to increase the size of your muscle.

Periodized training has been shown to promote muscle growth as equally as well as non-periodized training. Unfortunately, all periodized studies focusing on muscle growth have been short-term. Researchers suggest that longer term studies will prove its superiority to non-periodized training. [3]

Acute Variables for Hypertrophy Workouts

When creating a hypertrophy-focused workout, here are the recommended acute variables to use:

Exercises: 2 to 3 exercises per large muscle group; 1 to 2 exercises for small muscle groups

Sets: 3 to 5 sets of each exercise

Repetitions: 8 to 12 repetitions for each set

Tempo: During each repetition, use the following lifting speed:

  • Concentric Phase: 2 seconds 
  • Isometric Phase: 0 seconds
  • Eccentric Phase: 2 seconds

Amount of Weight: Use 65% to 75% of your 1-RM

Rest: 60 to 90 seconds

Strength

Strength is the amount of force that the muscle can exert against a maximum-force load or the body’s ability to move a weight that is near its maximum loading point.

Studies show that strength gains stagnate in a non-periodized training group while periodized training may offer continuous gains in strength. [4] 

Acute Variables for Strength Workouts

When creating a strength workout, here are the recommended acute variables to use:

Exercises: 2 to 3 exercises per large muscle group; 1 to 2 exercises for small muscle groups

Sets: 4 to 6 sets of each exercise

Repetitions: 5 to 8 repetitions for each set

Tempo: During each repetition, use the following lifting speed:

  • Concentric Phase: 2 seconds 
  • Isometric Phase: 1 second
  • Eccentric Phase: 2 seconds

Amount of Weight: Use 75% to 85% of your 1-RM

Rest: 90 to 120 seconds 

Power

Muscular power is the ability to move weight with as much force and speed as safely possible. Some examples of raw power include jumping, sprinting, and throwing. Research shows that periodized training programs are significantly superior to linear loading programs for gains in power. [5]

Exercises: 2 to 3 exercises per large muscle group; 1 to 2 exercises for small muscle groups

Sets: 5 to 7 sets of each exercise

Repetitions: 1 to 4 repetitions for each set

Tempo: During each repetition, use the following lifting speed:

  • Concentric Phase: 1 second
  • Isometric Phase: 0 seconds
  • Eccentric Phase: 1 second

Amount of Weight: Use 85% to 100% of your 1-RM

Rest: 120+ seconds 

How to Cycle Periodized Training

Confused about how to properly cycle through periodization training? Each week represents one of the four fitness goals listed above. Once you reach the end of one full cycle (all four phases), begin the cycle again, increasing either weight or intensity, if appropriate.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Week One: Endurance
  • Week Two: Hypertrophy
  • Week Three: Strength
  • Week Four: Power

Periodized Training Program

Here is a sample periodized training program for beginners. It is based on full-body workouts and having access to basic weightlifting equipment including a bench, dumbbells, and barbells with weight plates. Perform the workouts up to three times per week.

Week One: Endurance

  • Jump Squats: 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions
  • Bench Press: 3 x 12 – 15
  • Walking Lunges: 3 x 12 – 15
  • Pull-Ups: 3 x 12 – 15
  • Shoulder Press: 2 x 12 – 15
  • Hanging Leg Raises: 3 x 12 – 15

Week Two: Hypertrophy

  • Barbell Rows: 4 x 8 – 12
  • Decline Dumbbell Press: 4 x 8 – 12
  • Barbell Back Squats: 4 x 8 – 12
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 4 x 8 – 12
  • Lateral Raises: 3 x 8 – 12
  • Cable Crunch: 3 x 8 – 12

Week Three: Strength

  • Deadlifts: 5 x 5 – 8
  • Dumbbell Fly: 5 x 5 – 8
  • Front Squat: 5 x 5 – 8
  • Barbell Shrug: 5 x 5 – 8
  • Rear Deltoid Fly: 4 x 5 – 8
  • Farmer’s Carry: 5 x 5 – 8

Week Four: Power

  • Weighted Jump Squats: 6 x 1 – 4
  • Explosive Push-Ups: 6 x 1 – 4
  • Weighted Pull-Ups: 6 x 1 – 4
  • Alternating Jumping Lunges: 6 x 1 – 4
  • Swimmer’s Curl: 6 x 1 – 4
  • Weighted Russian Twists: 6 x 1 – 4

References

  1. Evans JW. Periodized Resistance Training for Enhancing Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength: A Mini-Review. Front Physiol. 2019;10:13. Published 2019 Jan 23. doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.00013.
  2. Mølmen KS, Øfsteng SJ, Rønnestad BR. Block periodization of endurance training – a systematic review and meta-analysis. Open Access J Sports Med. 2019;10:145–160. Published 2019 Oct 17. doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S180408.
  3. Evans JW. Periodized Resistance Training for Enhancing Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength: A Mini-Review. Front Physiol. 2019;10:13. Published 2019 Jan 23. doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.00013.
  4. De Souza, Eduardo & Tricoli, Valmor & Rauch, Jacob & Alvarez, Michael & Laurentino, Gilberto & Aihara, Andre & Cardoso, Fabiano & Roschel, Hamilton & Ugrinowitsch, Carlos. (2018). Different Patterns in Muscular Strength and Hypertrophy Adaptations in Untrained Individuals Undergoing Non-Periodized and Periodized Strength Regimens. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 32. 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002482.
  5. Rhea, Matthew & Alderman, Brandon. (2005). A Meta-Analysis of Periodized versus Nonperiodized Strength and Power Training Programs. Research quarterly for exercise and sport. 75. 413-22. 10.1080/02701367.2004.10609174.
David Sautter
2 Shares
Pin2
Share
Reddit
Share
Share