Muscle Building Program – Periodization

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Muscle Building Program – Periodization

Periodization is the idea that Athletes need to divide their training into several phases. This is usually:
-general physical preparation,
-sports-specific preparation which is peaking before a competition,
-and then a period of rest.

The longest period of training is called MACROCYCLE. It is most often one year but some athletes can be training for bi-annual competitions and in which case their macrocycle would be two years. Olympic athletes consider the 4-year period between Olympic Games as one long macrocycle.

A macrocycle consists of several shorter periods or MESOCYCLES. One mesocycle can last as little as 2 weeks and as long as 4 months, depending on the specific sport.

The mesocycle is in turn divided into MICROCYCLES. A microcycle is most often 1 week – for purely practical reasons. But if your training plan is strictly 4 days training and 1 day rest and you choose to ignore weekends then your microcycle will be 5 days.

Finally, every microcycle consists of TRAINING UNITS. Most of us will probably have 1 training unit a day (the daily workout) but some pro athletes can have up to 3 workouts a day.

The macrocycle of a typical pro bodybuilder consists of bulking phase, cutting phase/peaking for the Mr. Olympia or other competition and then a period of rest.

Periodization For Amateurs

Although most amateur bodybuilders usually ignore periodization altogether, it has several advantages that can’t be ignored:

1. Athletes using periodization achieve better results in strength and body composition. This was proven by several scientific studies.
2. Alternating between periods of heavy training and light-to-medium training. This approach is essential for joint health.
3. Avoiding endless routine with no change in sight. The psychological impact of long routine on training results shouldn’t be underestimated.
4. CNS(Central Nervous System) Recovery. This is the biggest point that needs to be made in favor of using intelligent programming. You can’t increase the load forever. But without gradually increasing the resistance load your results will be smaller. The period of rest between macrocycles will enable CNS to “forget” the load and you can start with lower weights again.

Periodization in bodybuilding training usually involves manipulating training volume and training intensity. The basic approach is to start with high volume and low intensity and gradually decrease the volume while increasing intensity.

Practically, it means starting with high reps and low weights and decreasing the number of reps while increasing the weight.

Some athletes choose to increase intensity to the point of temporary over-reaching(some call this Over-training) followed by a period of rest.

There are several similar methods based on this form of periodization.

Typically, one would start with 10-12 reps and appropriate weight (let’s say 60% 1RM). The number of reps would gradually decrease to 1-3 and weights would increase towards 95% 1RM. Then, a transitional phase would follow with some 30% 1RM and high reps (13-20).

Here’s a basic example of what 1 MESOCYCLE could look like if your overall goal is Muscular Hypertrophy (muscle growth):

Week 1

Day 1 – Moderate

A- Squat 3 sets X 8-10
B- DB Press 3sets X 8-12
C- Chin-ups 3sets X 8-12
D- Close grip BP 3sets X 10-12
E- Barbell curl 3sets X 10-12

Day 2 – Heavy

A- Front squat 4sets X 4-6
B- Bench press 4sets X 4-6
C- DB row 4sets X 8-10

Day 3 – Moderate

A- Romanian DL 3sets X 8-10
B- DB Press(incline)3sets X 8-10
C- Bent over row 3sets X 8-10
D- Dips 3sets X 10-15
E- EZ bar curl 3sets X 10-15

Week 2

Day 1 – Heavy

A- Front squat 4sets X 4-6
B- Bench press 4sets X 4-6
C- DB row 4sets X 8-10

Day 2 – Moderate

A- Squat 3sets X 8-10
B- DB press 3sets X 8-12
C- Chin-ups 3sets X 8-12
D- Close grip BP 3sets X 10-12
E- Barbell curl 3sets X 10-12

Day 3 – Heavy

A- Deadlift 3sets X 4-6
B- Barbell press 4sets X 4-6
C- Weighted pull-up4sets X 4-6

Week 3

Day 1 – Moderate

A- Squat 3sets X 8
B- DB Press 3sets X 8
C- Close grip BP 3sets X 8-10
D- Barbell curl 3sets X 8-10

Day 2 – Power

A- Power clean 5sets X 3
B- Speed bench 5sets X 3

Day 3 – Very Heavy

A- Squat 4sets X 2
B- Bench press 4sets X 2
C- Weighted pull-up3sets X 3

Week 4

Day 1 – Moderate

A- Romanian DL 3sets X 8-10
B- DB ress 3sets X 8-10
C- Bent over row 3sets X 8-10
D- Dips 3sets X 10-15
E- EZ bar curl 3sets X 10-15

Day 2 – Light

A- Bodyweight circuit 4sets X 15
B- Sled drags 3sets X 40 yds

Day 3 – Heavy

A- Front squat 4sets X 4-6
B- Incline Press 4sets X 4-6
C- Weighted pull-up4sets X 4-6

The great thing about this system is that it you can tailor your program to almost any goal by changing exercises or placing more focus on a specific strength/hypertrophic quality.

If you’re scheduled for a very heavy workout but just aren’t feeling up to the task, you can put in an easier training day that suits how you’re feeling.

However, you should try to make up that day somewhere. That day of heavy lifting doesn’t just disappear.

If you find yourself constantly not being up to the task of the day, it might be a sign that you’re not recovering properly. At that point, you need to step back and reevaluate your nutrition as well as your programming.

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