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Thoughts on Periodization?

I was wondering if any of you sexy bastards have used the periodization method in your workouts popularized by the great Tudor Bompa. If so, did you get great results? I’ve personally never tried it but I am willing to give it a shot.

Never heard of him. And it should be noted that I was born in Hamilton, and went to school near there, and was in High School when Ben Johnson was winning medals.

Can we get a TLDR this approach to periodisation. May have encountered it by a different name.

Early in my training career I turned to his book Serious Strength Training, only because the nutrition section was written by Mauro Di Pasquale and I was into his Anabolic Diet at the time.

At risk of upsetting a lot of diehards, I found it tedious. From memory, it was based on classic linear periodisation, e.g. 3 months in the 3-6 rep range; 3 months in the 8-12 re range, etc… I did not stick with it very long and recall some niggling injuries.

I made much more progress soon afterwards, in terms of hypertrophy, when I switched to an undulating periodisation programme by Alwyn Cosgrove. Here you rotate the intensity throughout the week, i.e. workout to workout. The irony is I still do something similar today with Scott Steveonson’s Fortutude Training, where you vary the intensity within each workout, e.g. you train whole body using heavier loads for upper and pump sets for lower; then rotate the next time.

Going back to Bompa et al, these Eastern European guys had a conveyor belt of talent. The attrition rate from their methods was probably huge but you’d never hear about that in the West; just the few that rose to the top. Coupled with State sponsored doping, it would be a crime if they weren’t successful. That said, I don’t want to tarnish Bompa or any other well-informed coach from that part of the world.

Bompa’s stuff is super well respected and widely used. Block periodization is everywhere. Lots of people do it because it’s effective. Even if you don’t use a routine from his books his stuff is baked in to everyone else’s programs.

Check the workout logs, lots of guys are alternating hypetrophy/volume phases and strength phases before peaking.

Even my girlfriend’s Booty Blast routine from the Beach Body app had a 3 phase, block structure.

You see the block periodization in lots of online coaches stuff. Looking in on people using these programs, one thing that surprised me was how short the blocks are. Often just like 3-4 weeks.


Linear periodisation won’t ever go away. However, moving with the times, you have daily undulating periodisation (DUP) models now that have some backing in research, e.g. Dr Mike Zourdos’ stuff. I don’t have enough experience to tout one over the other but, for hypertrophy purposes, I have found DUP is a no brainer.


Undulating for hypertrophy is cool, I’ve been using that kind of set up for a few months now. In the past I thought it was just for high frequency strength/performance training, but you’re right, it a great fit for hypertrophy stuff too.

I’ve always been interested in DUP and running it. Every single bit of info I’ve found has been conflicting though with the next on how to properly set it up.

I’ve seen 3 day week where you rotate lifts basically like this
Day 1 squat heavy/bench moderate/dead light
Day 2 squat light / bench heavy/ dead moderate
Day 3 squat moderate/bench light/ dead heavy

Then I’ve seen

Day 1 moderate on all
Day 2 light on all
Day 3 heavy on all

Then ppl have told me that you do 6 day a week rotating and so forth and so on. What variation do you use? I know that nearly anything will work I’m just curious on what the proper interpretation of DUP is.

Not trying to hijack thread just seeking info on something I don’t know a ton about

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Assuming your main goal is hypertrophy, your starting position is how many days are you going to train.

Tied to this, you then want to work what frequency to hit each muscle. DUP allows you to potentially train a muscle every day (in fact, CT’s Best Damn Workouts are based on these principles). The evidence based crew, like Eric Helms and Meno Henselmans would say full body 5-6 days a week is optimal for most intermediate/advanced trainees.

Your next option is whether to set it up as simple DUP, e.g. Day 1 low reps; Day 2 - medium reps; Day 3 - high reps. Or undulate within each workout (Best Damn Workout (BDW) does this. I do it with Fortitude Training (FT) - from which I suspect CT borrowed some ideas).

The key is to ensure volume is low each session. In terms of intensity, BDW and FT use very low volume to failure, or close to it. While Helms, etc, advocate a few more sets but keeping reps in the tank.

Hopefully, that gives you a few ideas.

Yeah I’m familiar with those programs actually. The strength training aspect is more what I’ve been interested in. I understand the muscle building principles. Alternating movements, rep ranges etc all while adding a little weight or trying to beat you personal records on a lift with same weight (which is boring to me) every week.

The hypertrophy aspect is well done though imo . If you have variety it’s easier to stick with.

Edit: thank you for the reply.

The first way you mentioned (heavy squat/moderate bench/light dead) is a good way to manage the workload and control fatigue. Every day kind of “averages out” to be the same. This keeps me from getting all worked up, like CNS fatigue. In my opinion this is good for nice, steady progress for a longer time.

The second way (moderate all/light all/heavy all) produces more CNS fatigue. Instead of staying steady it kind of builds up and you carry it into those big, heavy days. They’re harder to recover from and I need more frequent deloads, or just “easy weeks” when I train like that. Sometimes like 2 hard ones then an easy one.

That’s useful if you want some gains in a shorter time. You can use those big stressors to shock your system, dial back for a week, do that again then come back with some nice “temporary peaked” stength or super compensation I guess.

There are different ways to do DUP, the most common version has separate days for strength, power, and hypertrophy. I know a guy who was coached by Mike Zourdos a while back, Zourdos actually had it set up a completely different way. In this case it was 6 days a week, squat and deadlift one day and bench the following. The cycle started off with 10’s the first two days, 8’s the next two, then 6’s after, the next week went 9-7-5, deload every 4th week and continue with that progression until you peak for a meet or test day. Basically a linear DUP program. Mostly low RPE, @6-7, the occasional AMRAP or heavy double or single.

Low volume on deadlifts and mostly singles, and not 3 times a week, squat and bench followed the rep scheme mentioned. Close grip bench, OHP, barbell rows as assistance (No chin ups/pulldowns as far as I remember) and no other exercises.

You could do that as a 3 day program but it would make for some long workouts, you could do 4 days too or spread 2 training weeks over 3 weeks. There was a bunch of different options.


See I like the heavy/mod/light rotating lifts to not have bad taxing days. I think I’m gonna write something up and post it to see what you and @JamesBrawn007 and @FlatsFarmer think. 6 days a week would never work for me I have to much going on in life. 4days a week seems like it’s always been good for me and worked well as a frequency . Typically I’ve run MWF SAT and never had issues with recovery. Thanks for feedback guys.


I wouldn’t want to train 6 days a week either, 4 is plenty.

Tell that to the Norwegians! The main pillar of this idea seems to be built on the Norwegian frequency study.

For what it’s worth, I agree, 4 days is enough. I hit each body part 3 times a week on that. Although I still do energy systems work on other days: prowler pushing; slam ball, battle ropes, etc, so technically, I am still training each muscle 7 days a week.

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They certainly helped to popularize high frequency for powerlifting, but basically they adapted the style of training from weightlifting to PL. Their head coach at that time was Dietmar Wolf, who is also a WL coach.

I used to train 5-6 days a week, it can work but I don’t think it’s better than lower frequency. Aside from spending so much time training, the problem is that you often have days where energy is low and performance is down, those sort of training sessions aren’t very productive so its better to minimize them rather than having a couple days each week like that.

The thing with the Norwegians is that pretty much all their training is sub-max volume work, actual hard sets are not common in their training. It’s easier to do a lot of volume and train more frequently if you are never really pushing hard. Also in their study the 3 day/week group had ridiculously long training sessions, 4+ hours, so part of the success of the high frequency group is that each workout was much shorter and they didn’t accumulate so much fatigue.

Another thing, their offseason training is typically 4 days a week upper/lower split. Their is a youtube video with one of their coaches, Alexander Kirkteig, he explains a lot of what they do.

Personally, I have found that low volume and lower frequency works well for me these days. Right now I squat and deadlift once a week each and bench twice, just a few work sets and a little bit of assistance work and that’s it. The main benefit of higher frequency is that you get more practice with a particular movement, but if your technique is already solid then there isn’t much to be gained from it. In my case, I sometimes have issues with my squat when I’m squatting about 90%+ in wraps or going close to failure but lighter stuff is no problem. So for me to really benefit from more frequency I would have to squat heavy in wraps multiple times a week, and then recovery will quickly become a problem.


You could always do the lifts on 3 days and work the Guns on Saturdays.

I really like the using different weights part more than high high frequency part.

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There’s no reason why you can’t use different weights in the same workout. Work up to a heavy top set, do submax volume work after, then finish off with high rep hypertrophy work. Not that there’s anything wrong with DUP, I just never saw the attraction.


Yeah, nothing wrong DUP, or I guess with block style programming. Multiple weights one day are good, different weights on different days can be good as well.

If I do it one way for awhile, I get bored and look forward to doing another way.

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This is how I’ve been training.




4th day is light bench/press and back work

Working up to top set with back off sets. I’ve only been doing it a few weeks but I like it . Time management has been my biggest problem with DUP. Warming up on every lift every day, setting them up and all that takes forever. I’m interested in running it, and understand the principles of it and what the benefits are But basically what you laid out is so much more efficient time wise. I can get a dead lift work out where I Do 3 dead lift variations for 2-3 sets each in 40 minutes or less with good rest time. I’m such a busy person these days sadly.

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