Periodization 2: Muscle Strength And Growth

Find Periodization Part 1 here. Bodybuilders or any other athlete concerned with growing the largest amount of muscle mass do not need to be as concerned with the smaller details of a training program. Anyone wanting to increase the size and density of their muscle can benefit however, from periodizing their training into shorter blocks so their muscle gains can be more effective.

Research has shown that the detrimental effects of ‘overreaching’ in training do not begin until the fourth to sixth week of training in any one method. The method to avoid this ‘overreaching’ (another word for over-training) is to increase your total loading volume for three or four weeks, then take a single week of lowered volume to allow for recovery.

The training blocks should include variety with other blocks devoted to anaerobic endurance, increase in strength, and increase in power, as they have direct carryover to the mass training that will ultimately grow bigger and stronger muscles.

The main mass training block should revolve around a core of compound exercises, with additional compound and isolation movements added to it. Shoot for three or four sets in the six to ten rep range, train close to failure with short rest periods. For smaller body parts that have quicker recovery, a second day can be added with a single exercise for a few sets, taken to failure if you wish.

The de-training week should eliminate all accessory work except the original compound movements for two or three sets. Any second day you have for a body part should be removed as well. Taking sets to failure is your choice, but base it on how energetic you feel. The goal is to maintain, and allow for growth during this period.

The other types of blocks should be done according to your goals. The strength cycle should focus on a compound exercise done for sets in the 2-5 rep range, followed by accessory exercises and isolation exercises. De-train by removing the accessory and the isolation exercises.

Anaerobic endurance should involve one or two compound movements for five to eight sets of six to eight reps that do not go to failure. Rest should be limited to 45-60 between sets. Still include a few exercises that are mass builders. Cardio oriented around interval training could be included as well. De-train by removing one of the main exercises, and lowering the volume on the mass-oriented exercises.

The recuperative phase is a period of lowered volume and stress. this will be a four-week period of lowered volume and intensity. This can be based around a high intensity training – style program, emphasizing only compound movements for a few sets to failure.

The important thing to remember is that all of the qualities from each block should be stressed during each phase, but to different degrees. For example, even during mass blocks you can train a key compound exercise for strength, just as you can do the same during an anaerobic-endurance block.

You can string these blocks together in any way that is conducive to your goals—use a strength block, then two mass blocks, followed by an anaerobic endurance block, then a recuperation block. That was just one example, but the way that you structure the phases has to be what is most suited to your interests and goals. This method employs a means of making sure that gains aren’t compromised by over-training, ensuring that all qualities of training are incorporated, and that a very efficient way of using the body’s resources is utilized.

Happy Lifting!

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