T Nation


I was wondering how many of you believe in periodization? and why? I’m sure some of you can guess what I think, but I want to know what the science behind it is (I don’t mean takeing a week or two easy, I mean serious changes in reps, intensity,ect thru the year). the reason I don’t realy believe in it is that it seems to be based on training systems that are not about building muscle. I think the basis for it is from athletics, strength sports(olympic lifting and power lifting) and yes pro-bodybuilders (I know I said “not about building muscle” but let me make my point). now pro-bodybuilders have to because of drug use, they don’t want to stay on REAL heavy juice year round so they HAVE to cut back on intensity when the doses go down,then when they up the doses to HUGE levels they can hit the gym like mad men, then because of the wt., intensity, ect… they need the time after their “on” season to let joints heel, tendons heel, ect.

I think athletes (inc. strength athletes) do it for the same reason and also because of the level of skill involved in their sport, they HAVE to practice their skill often to improve their proficiency, I know some don’t see a diff between strength and proficiency but the best example I can give is when you do a new exercise in your workout you will not be very strong at it your first workout, but you will gain “strength” quickly in your next 3-4 workouts, did you realy get stronger (atleast to the degree of your “progress”)? or did you just get better at the ex.? I would love a real debate on this so please tell me what you think and why. thanks. oh, and yes I know I can’t spell so don’t point it out. thanks again

There are many kinds of hypertrophy. Why limit your training to target just one? You can use periodization to target them all. No, your periodization shouldn’t be set up like a weightlifters. I believe one should cycle volume and intensity. I’m not big on changing exercises for the sake of variety. And I do not cycle tempo. As far as not gaining strength on a new exercise, not true. Olympic lifters don’t just get more proficient at their lifts they get stronger. Profiency is gaining strength! It’s motorlearning! From rate of force development, better intramuscular cordination, disinhibition, hypertrophy, etc. Those all lead to strength gains.

One more thing…Hit jedis don’t use steroids? You discredit periodization based on the fact that streoids users use it. Naw, menter was clean. lol

I agree with your basic argument, atleast when it comes to natural bodybuilders

I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but here’s my two cents:

(1) I’ve trained for long periods of time (up to a year) without varying my routine much, and I’ve trained using periodization, mainly in terms of varying rep ranges and exercises. There’s no question which one worked better, so now I make sure to periodically change things around.

(2) This allows me to get stronger, which in turn allows for more muscle growth. (This is what I’ve observed in my own body.)

(3) I think that with an experienced lifter, 99% of the time you’re no longer doing a truly “new” exercise, but rather coming back to an old one. And I don’t think that there’s much in the way of increasing strength due to “getting better at the exercise”. If you’re an experienced lifter, you know how to move the bar correctly, right from the start. You may not CHOOSE to (a la Ian King’s recommendations), but you can if you want. I generally do incline dumbell presses as my “mass” movement for chest, but occasionally I’ll do flat barbell benches instead. Even after coming back to them after a six-month layoff, I do not find that I’ve lost strength - just the opposite, in fact.

(4) You can spell correctly if you want. You're just being lazy about it. If you really CAN'T spell, get a dictionary and keep it by your computer. Not to get pissy, but it amazes me sometimes how proof-read-phobic people are. Sometimes (although not with this post) it's actually hard to tell what the hell someone's talking about. Spelling (and punctuating) correctly is just being polite to your readers, bud.

Tudor Bompa wrote an excellent book on periodization called Serious Strength Training that goes thru the theories of it all etc and gives sample workouts thru the year dependant upon goals and level of training (beg, inter, adv.). If nothing else I sggest you view it for background etc. I use periodization in a different way to what he advocates and incorporate HIT, volume, Ian King type, and German Body comp, stages in my year. I agree that it is hard in a lot of cases to tell the diff between gains due to proficiency v strength. I am a fan of I.K. type pre-exhaustion phases (tris-shoulders-chest)and have found definite strength gains after only 3 weeks of that type and reverting to a more traditional type (chest first etc). Hope this babble makes sense.

You make some good points, but by the sound of your post you “believe in periodization as much as the next person”
yu just dont see the validity of it with respect to
1 a non competitive athlete
2 a non juiced body builder

I believe in periodization, but like you i believe that it probably wont make a noticable difference if all your after is looks.

If however you want to stay as injury free as possible and use it to get the most out of it (most of the benefits are not visible to the eye) it is a great tool.

The other thing that is called periodization on this site is simply “changing it up” ,
wich is a sort of hybrid periodization, that takes bits and pieces from various athletic models
and I believe that that is necasery for the non competitive athlete and the non juiced bodybuilder because
1 it prevents mental boredom
2 prevents physical staleness
3 it provides a great new stimuli to training that will allow you to further enhance your training
I know that as a HITer you may not believe point 3

but thats all I have to say

Browncy, you’ve put a lot of theory on paper, and it is obvious that you’ve given this a lot of thought. Unfortunately, theories don’t build muscle. I’ve seen from experience that a well-planned out periodization program is head and shoulders better than just “working hard” regardless of the intensity or volume. Give it an honest try, then we can talk.

Oops! I addressed the wrong person. I meant Hethey225. I’m still lightheaded from my workout!

hyko, I have and I don’t realy see the need, if you give your body enough rest and don’t overtrain it I don’t know what benifit it would be. these programs have NOTHING to do w/ muscle growth, they have to do with athletic performance. now people say “its a new stimulus” so? that doesn’t make it better. I don’t get hurt, I improve EVERY workout, I train when I’m rested, if I feel week I take the day off, if fast twich fibers are what builds size, and you can get your slow twich fibers to act like fast twich fibers than why would you want to train any other way?(so fast can act like slow?) natural man, I guess I did not make one of my points right, I know you feel more wt=more strength and to a degree you are correct, I’ll try another example, I have been involved w/baseball all my life, now I can take a picher w/poor mechanics and add 5-10 mph to his fast ball if he is realy screwd up, did his armstrength improve? to you yes, to me there is NO way his armstrength improved 5-10mph in an afternoon. ask the strength coaches (olympic,powerlifting) how important practice is in there movements. now most times power and olympic lifter get “weeker” dureing the volume phase, they are just practicing the ex. to become more proficient at them, tell me you have never found the “power curve” in the benchpress, if you have than when you did you got “stronger” but I say there is no automatic growth w/ that new found strength. take someone who never played baseball, they will have no idea how to throw but work with them and they will improve alot by the end of the day in their mph, why? did they get “stronger” again you say yes I say no. I can not believe that there are no exercises that you experience this with, If you don’t do olympic lifts, try them and see how much “stronger” you get in the next month, you will add atleast 50% to your max in a month or two, did you realy get THAT much stronger(or are you ALOT bigger) or is part of it that you just got better at them, people don’t relise what kind of skill is needed for strength SPORTS but muscle building is NOT an athletic acctivity and I don’t realy see how training like it is will help you. these are also reasons why I believe newbies,teens,athletes should not train HIT, they need the volume to “learn” the exercises and “learn” how to recruit enough fibers. hey, just a thought!

naturalman, one more thing, I did not discredit it 'cause of roid use, my point is roids will ALWAYS get you results if you train hard, regardless of the type of system (if you take enough, and no I don’t mean sitting in a chair doing 12 oz curls as the system). just seems to me that comonsence would say use drug free as the example and that although juice will let you train harder longer and recover from it ,whatever “system” works best for natural trainers will also work best for “assisted” trainers (although like I said the volume can be increased slightly, and recovery is not as much an issue)

Hethey225, if everything you say is true, then you are a rare bird indeed. If it works for you, then don’t change it, but I would keep periodization in your hip pocket in the event that you stop making gains.