Periodization training?

Anyone use periodization training–phases of 4 weeks?

3-10 sets of 8-12 reps, 3-4 days per week, low intensity, high volume.

Basic Strength:
3-5 sets of 4-6 reps, 3-5 days per week, high intensity, moderate to high volume

Strength and Power:
3-5 sets of2-3 reps, 3-5 days per week, high intensity, low volume

Peaking (or maintenance):
1-3 sets of 1-3 reps, 1-5 days per week, VERY high intensity, VERY low volume.

Each phase would be 4 weeks. I’ve heard some good things about it, might give it a try.

Anyone have good/bad experiences with this method? (For gaining lbm)

I havent done that type of training exactly as you have written there…I used 6 to 8 week phases and combined the power/peaking phases into one phase. I used Shawn Phillips Original Powerbuilding System back in the day when MM2K was cool.
Your program outline seems pretty sound though; and definately better than the “ya know…some days ya gotta go heavy and some days ya gotta go light” that I am sure you have heard bandied about in the gym ad nauseum.-

This is western periodization and has many down falls. One is that you cant retain the strength, size, condition, etc., that you gained from the previous phase. Read dave tates article titled The Periodization Bible parts I and II. It will answer more specifically your question.

Is the periodization program you listed…listen in the order you plan to do it in? And when you say low/high intensity…does that just pertain to the rest intervals (low=90-120 sec, high=60-90 sec)??

Also, when you suggest low/high volume…how many exercises per muscle group are wa talkin about here?? Just curious. Thanks…Tony G

periodization is varying training parameters (volume, intensity, density) while giving the body enough stimulus (i.e the minimum of each). your program lacks minimum volume in some weeks and minimum intensity in sime weeks, I dont even know about the density.

as G. said, not good enough.

I think I’m going to have to disagree with Goldberg slightly but not entirely. This is a classic western periodization scheme that’s interested in developing power and speed rather than maximal strength. While it’s effective it isn’t necessarily the best way to go. Keep in mind this type of periodization is designed for athletes.

I prefer to do things one of two ways with my athletes either:

a) Determine what they need most (size, strength, speed) and then work to develop that. Whichever one is the limiting factor in your performance at the moment is where you concentrate your efforts. The peaking idea is good but I’ve always found the best peaking is done within the sport itself. I’ve always gotten the best results from myself and my athletes when I had them peak doing the sport rather than in the gym. Afterall peaking at bench press only helps if you’re about to enter a bench press competition.

This is a long-term approach for athletes who are off season or who are using their season as a developmental season rather than as a competition-heavy season.

b) I micro periodize which is similar to west-side training though you shift the emphasis of the program to either strength, speed or hypertrophy depending on what the athlete needs. This is better for in-season athletes who are trying to compete currently because it never takes them very far from a performance state. The downside you’ll find are that it doesn’t tend to be quite as effective for hypertrophy but it’s still great for strength and speed work. I really should get off my butt and put an article on here outlining examples of the program . . .

Hope that helps.


Also, peaking is a sport specific --and competition specific-- method of maximizing performance for a specific point in time, effectively at the expense of the rest of the training cycle. What a specific peaking cycle looks like depends a great deal on the type of event being competed in-- though you are correct on the general characteristics of low volume, high intensity-- but regardless, I think if your goals are confined to just adding lbm and shredding fat, it’s an unnecessary addition to the regime. I would probably take a few days or a week to detrain during at that point to recover and prep for the next mesocycle.

my two pesos

Sturat-I should have clarified. I was trying to be brief because I thought class started today but i found out a few minutes ago that it starts tomorrow. I too prioritize according to what i am wanting to accomplish. If im looking to gain mass, i will up my volume some on max effort day either with more warmups or higher max rep ranges or with a down set or with all three if i feeling froggy. My beef with the classic periodization scheme comes from my own experiences. Any time that i go to a higher rep range i lose strength. It happened to me every single time i tried it. And whats worse is that i would gain no muscle mass at all from doing the higher reps. Not until i tried conjugated periodization have i been able to increase muscle size, strength, and endurance all at the same time. I remember when i used to do the old poliquin accumulation and intensity phases. Every time i went to an accumulation phase i got weak as hell no matter how hard i worked. It didnt take long to realize i needed intensification all the time. And now ive found it and its so much more fun.

My most recent article addresses this from a hypertrophy specific perspective; it should run any week now.


My experiences are almost identical.

I hate western periodization.

Goldberg: In that case I don’t think I have to disagree with you.

I’ve always found that the most effective ways to periodize were either a conjugated, micro or very macro. If I’m working with athletes who want to periodize I stay well away from the western 4-6 week cycling since I feel that you’re not giving your body time to adapt properly to the strains and thus you’re not getting the full benefits from any of the segments. With a large macro >2 months style periodization I think you generally get better benefits since you’re concentrating all your efforts in one area for a good length of time.

I’ll also use the microperiodization <2 weeks in combination with conjugated to help an athlete develop while they’re still trying to compete. It’s not quite as effecient for hypertrophy but still works decently for strength and power while keeping them fairly ready to compete.


One- as you can see from all the responses, you’re going to have to experiment to find what woks best for you. I’m willing to bet that Goldberg’s experience isn’t all that typical. When I tried to do straight intensification training, I wound up frying myself. I needed to back off and do lighter training ala “accumulation”. The cycle you’ve outlined is pretty old, and you can probably tinker with it to fine tune what you want. The westside style periodization is a great improvement, but when I tried it, I found that I had to modify it slightly to make it work best for me, and you may have to the same.

Hey One,
I agree with with emckee - if you have no reason to peak (competition of any sort) then omit the peaking phase.
Define your goals a bit more specifically. Do you want get bigger and stronger? Or bigger and without necessarily adding more strength? If you want to get big and strong omit the hypertrophy phase. That allows you more time to get in a 2nd or 3rd focus on a weakness - not really at the same time though.
We don’t know your level of knowledge but you can get bigger without necessarily getting that much stronger. You can also get bigger while adding a more significant amount of strength.
Regardless of what concepts you use, the more your diet sucks the more your results will suck. Can’t really comment on your volume as you don’t state the number of exercises you were going to use.
One thing to consider is, even when Focussing on strength, 1 back off set on your main exercise of 15 - 20 reps is supposed to help with hypertrophy quite nicely(I say supposed to, since I have not really used this to a very long or large degree).
I like Westside stuff esp. when you have the GPP there.

My goal is just to gain lbm, I’m not too concerned with strength.

I don’t think I’m going to be doing this now… I think something like 5x5 might be better.