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Periodization for Bodybuilding


Which form of periodization do you think is the best one for a bodybuilder?. Linear(we go of high volume and low intensity, to low volume and discharge intensity), undulate (alternating phases of accumulation with phases of intensification), or conjugated (we worked force and hypertrophy in all the cycles, but changing to the volume/intensity of cycle in cycle).



Can you please go into more depth for each of those phases. I am interested.

Can you give example weekily/monthly breakdowns for each of them.



Periodization is a highly complex formula for the realization of athletic success. I do not think it suits bodybuilders. Elite athletes use periodization as a formula to develop winning strength levels and motor unit coordination for competition. The problem faced, for example, by a weightlifting athlete in the Royal World Weightlifting Championships in a drug-tested environment, to produce a new Competition Maximum after having trained every day in multiple sessions and having competed for the last 10 years (since the age of 14) in the sport, is NOT similar to that of a bodybuilder.

Essentially, if the goal is hypertrophy and increases in strength to allow for greater hypertrophy - there is no reason that the Maximum Effort, Submaximal Effort, and Repeated Effort methods of training cannot be used in the same workout. Moreover, if you are using drugs to optimize your gains then the subtle tradeoffs of positives and negatives that define periodization will be overshadowed. The reason for this is that exercise selection+order ('blasting those muscles') and hormonal state is of paramount importance in creating muscular hypertrophy. For competitive weightlifters the neural mechanisms that determine strength, speed, and coordination are the primary drivers of success.

There is also very little - if any - negation of anaerobic strength levels by implementing cardio routines in your daily routine and lifestyle. (The reverse is not true, but cardiovascular performance is not your focus as a bodybuilder - hypertrophy is). The period of delayed transformation, in which deloading is used to realize gains after staleness has set in with the current routine, is always optimal though - even for bodybuilders.

But the focuses on athletic technique and motor coordination are irrelevent for a bodybuilder. These too are key aspects of periodization.


So, do u think the conjugated method is the best approach for hypertrophy goals?. It would be like Westside method -working several qualities- but changin the dynamic effort -which is unnecessary for a BB- for functional hypertrophy, and mantaining repeated effort (structural hypertrophy) and maximum effort (strenght).

In each cycle we would focus on one quality (strenght, funcional or structural hyperttrophy) trying to mantain the others (by adding little volume of work).

Do u think this is a best approach than linear and ondulated periodizations?.



Those links will explain u very well about several models of periodization.

Periodization by lyle macdonald Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Traditional and no traditional periodization


You are making this into something way more complicated than it is man. Pick whatever method you believe in the most. And don't forget most of your results will come from moving fork to mouth.


What I am saying is that designing a periodization program is not optimal for a BB'er whose focus is truly only on hypertrophy. I believe in the principle of "Ockham's Razor".

Westside for Skinny Bastards is optimal for groups of competitive football players and powerlifters (with beginner/intermediate work capacity). By changing it to suit your needs the subtleties of undulating periodization are lost. You are in effect going to do what I am reccomending, and that is create a program with loose structure.

I just hope that you identify 30 or so exercises that work best for you, implement them in an order that allows for rest and maximum hypertrophy in a given workout session, and do no more than 10 of them in a given 4-6 week cycle (identified by when you stop progressing with weight and reps in the 8-12 range). Drop the total weight lifted to 60% during times when you feel kinda tired, it'll happen every couple months. And always drop the weight to 60% 2 weeks before a BB'ing competition. You'll grow optimally, ok?

And seriously, many Westside lifters write down nothing more than "MAX EFFORT DAY WITH BANDS" in a daily log entry. The problem is that humans have a tendency to overcomplicate things and lose sight of the bigger picture.


Periodization is really nothing more than "planned variations in training to achieve a specific effect over a designated time frame". There are various ways to execute on this concept, but that's pretty much all it is. Periodization is designed to allow you to peak at a specific time, if peaking isn't useful for you, periodization won't be either.


What I mean with periodization is putting specific variations in trainning to avoid plateaus and to offer to the body new stimulis. If You train the same all the time, your body will adapt to the training. This is why i question which is the best form to do this variations.


I agree with Scott (been saying that a lot lately) and cormac.

Why is it that so many people get hung up on worrying about the small stuff (what type of periodization is best) and don't just focus on what really forms the foundation of building muscle (overload + food + rest)?


And if I said to you that I make 6-7 meals a day, eatin more than 3.500 kcal, sleeping 9 hours a day and adding weight in every workout?.
The graceful thing is that all you make periodization, because you don't train the same way all the year, you make variations (in volume, intensity (% of 1RM), exercises) so this is periodization. And, If you make variations in all this stuff, why not to apply it to frequency also?. Training one muscle every 7 days is the worst thing for gaining strenght, and srtenght gains is the key for a natural bodybuilder. Not watch to profesional BB's, because they use drugs, and drugs makes that training is not the most important thing.

P.D.: by the way, most bodybuilders like Coleman or Jackson come from powerlifting.



I was not trying to suggest that you were too hung up on the small stuff and were ignoring the foundational stuff. That was more of a generalized observation of the types of threads that have been springing up around here lately. If you are continuing to pay attention to the basics (foundational elements), and wish to utilize periodization, and it's working for you, then more power to you.

It's just that you don't need to periodize in order to build strength and muscle. And, most people who are fairly new to this game would be much better off just finding a good tested proven program that they like and sticking to it, while at the same time making sure that the foundational elements are in place.

Worrying about strength phases, and mass phases, and (insert attribute) phases is fine for athletes or more advanced lifters who feel like they enjoy the change of pace. But for newb's it's pretty much a waste of energy IMO.

I'm not arguing that building strength is #1 in the gym, nor am I telling anyone to work out one muscle every 7 days. But you don't have to periodize to fully realize those two points.

Also, why is it really necessary to vary volume, intensity (%1RM) and exercises?

There have been people getting big on just the old 3x8-12 set/rep scheme for literally half a century now. Yes, I'll admit that when a lift plateaus (can no longer progress in strength gains) that it's time to switch that exercise for another variation. But that's not really something you can make an accurate prediction on (in terms of the time it will take for this to occur).

See first of all building muscle is an adaptation, you WANT adaptation to occur. Now if you were to do the EXACT same workout every time you went to the gym, then your body would have no reason to adapt further. But, as long as you are putting overload on the muscles, they will continue to adapt, even if the set/rep scheme stays the same for extended periods of time. Load is, as you eluded to above, the single most important (and most easily manipulated) variable in the gym.

Unless you're Andy Bolton and you literally need more plates than anyone should reasonably need, you shouldn't have any problems with increasing the load enough to illicit adaptation (muscle growth). Nor are you probably going to reach a strength level where you actually cannot find enough resistance to make something challenging.

Also, plateaus are unavoidable, IMO you'd be much better off just sticking on a few good tried and true mass builders or each muscle group and getting as strong as possible on each one of them. Then, when you do finally reach a plateau, then and only then should you switch up to different exercises (and repeat the process).

Seriously, if you're switching up exercises every 4 weeks (or whatever the in vogue time frame is this week) it's going to take you a lot longer to reach those same strength levels. In other words, you can either take the scenic route, or the expressway. If you choose the scenic route then, hey it's your time, do with it what you please. But also realize that there are other ways to get there, some quite possibly faster than the route you took.

Good training,