Changing up your workout can be stressful. It’s hard to be creative and think of new things to do. There are some gyms in Huntsville Alabama that have figured out fun and creative ways to change your workouts. They’ve shared some of there helpful tips below…
Say you want to get stronger and you start off with 100 lbs. on the bench press exercise. The following week you can press 115. The week after that you can do 120. How much will you add on to your press next year? I don’t know, but I do know that at some point you may hit a plateau.
A plateau is a point in training where what you are investing in your training starts to bring in less of a return. Sometimes you can hit a complete standstill where no matter how hard you work, you won’t get anything in return.
If we didn’t have these plateaus, using the above analogy, we would all be bench pressing 1000 lbs. and unfortunately, for the majority of athletes who weight train, this isn’t the case.
Most of the athletes or clients that trainers work with will try to overcome this plateau state by working harder. This can lead to overtraining or injury.
Prevent plateaus and overtraining by working smarter and more efficiently.
Periodization is a term in the fitness world that refers to the manipulation of a training schedule to avoid plateaus while maximizing your ability to make gains, regardless of what you are training for.
In the past I’ve heard this referred to as “Cycle Training” meaning you go through different cycles while you train. Each cycle has a specific emphasis with the overall intent leading towards your goal to be fitter, leaner, stronger, and feeling great.
There are usually three periods of cycling that are incorporated into a periodization schedule. We call these three periods, MICRO-CYCLES, MACRO-CYCLES, and MESO-CYCLES.
Micro-cycles, are the smallest frame of time and workouts done during this period may take place over the course of a few days or a week. Macro-cycles, are the next largest period and may take place over the course of a few weeks or months. Meso-cycles, are the largest training periods and can take several months to complete.
One of the easiest ways to create a periodization program is to start with the end result in mind and then to work your way backwards.
Say you want to get fitter. For most, this means that you are building lean muscle, burning body fat, and increasing aerobic endurance.
Muscle burns fat so having more muscle at the beginning of a cycle means that at the end of the training cycle, you have greater potential to get leaner. Being leaner means that you are going to be able to move better, so cardiovascular exercise will become easier to accomplish.
Knowing this, lets create a cycle.
- Divide the year into 4 equal quarters. Each quarter is going to have three month cycles and we will be able to repeat the cycles 4 times each year.
- Take your first cycle and devote it to getting into condition to train. For someone who may be overtraining, this means give your body a rest and try to regain the balance that you’ve lost. For someone who isn’t used to training, this means that you will work to improve your diet, balance, structural integrity, and create a solid physical foundation that will keep you from getting hurt and keep you feeling good.
- Going into the first cycle, look to get stronger and build solid muscle. Because of the heavy nature of this type of training, you need to rest longer between sets and can only train this way for 2-3 weeks before your joints may begin to ache. This will be a three day a week, full body workout that is comprised of high weights for low reps (6-8 reps. max). Do several sets to warm up, then finish out each exercise with two to three sets of 6-8 where you are pushing to failure.
- After 2-3 weeks of training with high weight/low reps, switch to a lower weight load and start increasing the amount of reps and exercises that you are using. This helps to shape and grow quality muscle. If you were working a three day full body routine in the previous cycle, begin a two-day split routine. Now you divide your body over two days and repeat the workouts twice so that you are working out 4 times a week. Increase the reps to 8-12 and decrease the weight so that you can do that rep. load to failure. At this point you are going to be resting less between each set in anticipation for the next cycle where you will be doing endurance work. Do this cycle for 4-6 weeks.
- The next cycle is going to focus on muscular and aerobic endurance. You will be training for 4-6 weeks depending on what you have done up to this point. Now we are going to add a third day to the split, working your body over a three day period and doing it twice weekly making the workout a 6 day a week workout. We added two days so let’s cut back on the time that we are staying in the gym. Decrease the rest time to the bare minimum and also decrease the weight slightly. While doing this, we will be adding more reps to each set and working to keep your form super strict. Now we are doing 15-20 reps per set and grouping exercises into supersets (2 sets back to back) or giant sets (3 or more sets back to back). By pushing at this pace, we will be stressing our cardiovascular systems more and resting less, this builds up the capillaries (small blood vessels) in the muscle and improves your ability to get a pump. This type of training can be called “interval training” and is an awesome way to build endurance.
After completing this three month cycle take a week of “active” rest. Stretch, train your core, walk or jog, use the foam rollers, eat well, get massaged, and recover as much as you can. Once rested, start the process again and watch the results happen.