Do you feel like you’re doing the same old routine in the gym, and not getting the results you want? You may want to consider structuring your training for your own progression goals to avoid plateauing.
Periodisation has stood the test of time for the simple fact that there are so many ways to progress and structure your training to enable adaptation and prevent plateauing. Failing to utilise any form of periodisation for your training could lead to overtraining, poor recovery and the inability to see the progress you deserve from the time you dedicate to training. The goal with periodisation is to maximise your gains while also reducing your risk of injury or going stale during the training period.
Periodisation isn’t just used by strength and power athletes, but can be utilised by any gym goer with a long-term goal in mind. An intelligently designed training year will encompass smaller blocks of time that each has its own goals or priorities. This type of overall schedule will encompass all of the aspects of the individuals programming and can include strength training, conditioning, plyometrics, and sport-specific activities (dependant on goal and ability level).
If you are a complete beginner to training you will make adaptations fairly swiftly when starting out in the gym; whether this be improvement in aerobic fitness or strength in the weights room. All the while you are making improvements in your training and not seeing a decrease in your performance or a plateau effect, this is ideal and you should continue to do this alongside an effective nutritional plan. However there will come a time when the same approach, using the same training volumes and intensities will see you plateau and you may want to structure your training differently moving forward, to keep you progressing.
A basic example of a linear periodisation setup is the popular five sets of five repetitions on key exercises such as squat, bench, deadlift, and power clean. You could approach this by adding five pounds for upper body movements, and ten pounds for lower body movements every training session in a progressive fashion until you plateau. You could then reset and begin again.
If you are more of an advanced/intermediate, then you could look at some form of the undulating periodisation model and its progressions. You could undulate your training intensities or volume on a weekly or daily basis. For example, utilising the squat exercise for hypertrophy within the first phase of your undulating block, you could do something like this for volume:
- Week 1: Squat, 3 Sets X 12 Reps
- Week 2: Squat, 4 Sets X 8 Reps
- Week 3: Squat, 5 Sets X 6 Reps
- Week 4: Squat, 3 Sets X 5 Reps
From here you could then move into a strength block whereby the volume decreases and the intensity increases even more, for example looking at rep ranges of 1 x 6/4/2 (more suitable for advanced lifters).
Periodisation is quite simple when you think about it, but how many people in the gym actually plan or structure their training? To get serious results I would highly recommend it. I have spoke about this in previous blogs but periodisation has a key bond with progressive overload – and this is in my opinion the most important principle for progressing your training.
The following piece of advice will take you a long way to achieving your goals – Lift the resistance for as many perfect repetitions possible using a full range of motion. Record the number of repetitions achieved. Attempt to do more in the next workout – once you have reached the higher spectrum of your desired rep-range, increase the weight marginally. It is that simple guys – but so many people still don’t do this.
Structuring your training can be useful in all aspects of gym goals, sports and competitions. I have used it in my bodybuilding training and at a competitive level for the last four years. It has enabled me to put on muscle and be in better condition year after year. It also works hand in hand with nutritional planning. If you have the same approach around bulking diets for example, for too long, your body will start to distribute those nutrients to fat stores and slowly become less and less effective at building lean tissue.
If structuring our approaches to reach our goals wasn’t necessary then I would just stick to a continuous bulking plan for two years and put on 20 kilos of muscle mass – but this isn’t going to happen. Remember guys, if you’re training hard for long periods of time and your results are halted, ask yourself why? It may be time to build a new approach to your training protocols to keep you on the continuous gain train.