If you’ve been in the fitness world for a while you are familiar with this term. Or maybe your personal trainer used the term when explaining the details of his/her plan to get you in your desired shape. Personally, I stumbled across this term the first time when I was going through my personal training certification. The content given during the certification about the topic was insufficient and confusing to me. I wanted to learn more about it in order to use it for myself and for my clients benefit. Here is a short breakdown of the concept behind periodization:
“Periodization is the division of training periods and the principle of cyclical training where programming variables such as intensity, volume, frequency, rest, and exercise selection among others, are strategically manipulated and varied in order to reduce the risk of injury and maximize sport performance for individual athletes or sports teams.
Periodization takes into consideration the level, training age and genetic predispositions of an athlete in order to avoid overtraining and allow them to peak for one or several competitions. In a periodized training plan, certain time-frames exists for the manipulation of programming variables, these time frames are termed macrocycle, mesocycle and microcycle.
A macrocycle is considered the longest duration of the training cycle, usually several months in length or even a few years. For example, a quadrennial macrocycle describes a 4-year long program used to prepare an athlete or sport team for the Olympic games. A macrocycle is comprised of several mesocycles, which are a few months in length and can be defined as a prepatory, competition or transitional phase. Lastly, mesocycles are further divided into microcycles which deals with training on the weekly-basis.”1
I know it seems highly technical and vague, especially when not in the personal training industry, so why am I telling you this? I’ve been thinking about my blog and its content for a while now and which direction I should take with it. As I was doing that, I started to think more and more of ways to empower my readers and clients to become more knowledgeable about their own fitness routine. I understood the potential of periodization and what it could do for my clients and readers. Below you see how periodization could look like for someone with no to little experience in strength training. For the sake of keeping it simple I will not include aerobic conditioning or stretching into this program. However I will discuss this topic in a later blog article.
Most people suffer from the same structural conditions. They have rounded shoulders and a hunched over upper back from slouching and sitting all day at their desk. That means their upper back muscles are weak. So the focus is mainly on the upper back. If someone is not able to do a proper row or lat pull down, it’s not advisable to have them do a loaded back rack squat or deadlift. You need upper body strength first. Another focus at the beginning is core stabilization. It’s important to learn how to keep the lower back under control while moving your arms and legs in any exercise.
Example work out:
Lat pull down
(3 sets of 12reps to 15reps for each exercise is a great way to start for anyone new to exercise, it needs repetition to master the movement. Try and aim to go to the gym 2-3 times a week, giving yourself at least a day in between the work outs to recover)
Building up upper body strength continues in this phase. In addition to upper body pulling movements I’m including pushing movements as well as more advanced lower body exercises as upper body strength increases.
Example work out:
Kneeling single arm row
Double goblet squat
Straight arm pull downs
Dumbbell bench press
Standing Hip thrusters
Sitting over head press
(Hit the gym 2-4 times per week. You can keep the sets and reps the same as in week1-4)
Again these are just examples of how the first two months can look like when starting out. As you go on and develop general strength you can play with the number of sets and reps depending on your goals. If you want to increase your power, incorporate plyomeric exercises. If you want to focus on muscle endurance increase the sets and reps.
I advise you specifically at the beginning to ask for help. It can be a lot to deal with at first, specifically when correct form and execution of exercises is key. So hiring a personal trainer that educates and corrects you as well as guides you on the way of achieving your goals will not only help you to achieve your goals but will also make you more confident in working out on your own. Only if you’re empowered with knowledge can you make it a sustainable lifestyle with as little as possible injuries along the way.
If you have any questions regarding your exercise routine or want to get started with personal training sessions, feel free to contact me or any of my colleagues at Junction Fitness Hub.