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Help with Linear Periodization


In many types of periodization schemes (including the ‘intensity’ phase of block periodization), you’re meant to follow linear periodization which means decreasing the reps per set at the same time as increasing weight. This makes the workouts progressively more ‘intense’ in the sense that you’re working with weights closer and closer to your 1 rep max.

However, where does effort come into this equation? You can have a set of 10 reps feel extremely ‘intense’ because you had to grind out that 10th rep for 30 seconds or you even failed it. Opposite to that, you can hit an easy triple rep set, so even though the weight was heavier, the set didn’t feel as ‘intense’.

So, in linear periodization, as you increase the weight and decrease the reps, should the effort (how close you are to failure during the sets you perform) decrease, increase, or stay the same?

Sometimes I feel I must have miscalculated how much weight to ramp up with or start with because the earlier workouts in the training block (the workouts with the lighter weights and more reps) had me going close to failure or at failure, and then in the later workouts in the training block (the workouts with heavier weights and fewer reps) I was hitting my reps easily.

So should effort per set as well as intensity per set be increasing with linear periodization?

Is there a way of calculating how much you should be ramping the weight up by week to week as you progress through the intensity phase of a block periodization scheme?


Check out “The Periodization Bible, Part 1” by Dave Tate. On this site.

Top Men have been working to answer these questions for years and years.


You are seriously over complicating this.

Just add 5-20lbs each week depending on your strength levels while decreasing the reps.


Your effort should always be there*. It will be on the lower end (bare minimum to elicit a training effect) if you’re beaten up or proactively limiting things for recovery and higher end if you are feeling great.

  • assuming you have progressed to a stage where you understand how much effort you are putting in (which is definitely a hard skill)


Agreed. OP, you could do far worse than following this advice.


A complex subject but once you go over a certain level of ‘heaviness’/ high%of 1RM you dont need to go anywhere near failure to get a positive effect.

What is the program?


Good info coming up!

As you progress through the intensification, and the reps drop, you should be killing the weights. They should move smoothly. The lifts should “feel” easier. But like the badger says, they impact you differently. Too many grinders is a sign you’re pushing too fast or too hard.

One of the issues with linear style is that the amount of work drops as the reps go down. This is the main problem. The block system and the conjugate system are set up to have you do other stuff like assistance or conditioning to make up the missing volume. Or effort. It’s definetly hard to figure out how much you can do and still progress.

That’s why a good program should have all this stuff built in.



There are people who have developed systems with complex forms of periodisation. Complexity also depends on what sport you are in and at what level you are at. This does not mean linear periodisation HAS to be complex, especially in the OP’s case where he has to start a thread to ask how to do a proper pull up.

The issue of how close you go to failure is usually part of a bigger plan in different systems. Going as close to failure as possible without technical breakdown would be recommended in the OP’s case.