Train and Recover Smarter: A Periodization Primer

Train and Recover Smarter: A Periodization Primer

A periodization system is a systematic approach to training designed to maximize performance over time. There are many types of periodizations, but they all have one thing in common: They’re based on the idea that different levels of intensity produce different adaptations. For example, if you train at low intensity for long periods of time, your body will adapt to the lack of stimulus and become less efficient at producing energy.

At high intensity, however, your body becomes more efficient at using the fuel it produces (oxygen) better than it would under lower-intensity conditions.

The goal of any type of training is to improve a specific physiological adaptation called an “adaptive response.” An adaptive response refers to the change in physiology that occurs when you perform an activity at a higher or lower level of effort. These changes may include increases in strength, power, speed, endurance, etc.

In order to achieve these adaptations, you need to vary your training volume and intensity throughout the year so that your body gets used to working harder and longer between workouts. This is where periodization comes in.

So, what is periodization?

Periodization is the process of structuring your training so that you can achieve the best results possible throughout the year. This involves manipulating the volume and intensity of your training in a specific way so that your body has time to recover while still adapting to the stresses you place on it. Within this lies the art of successful training. The goal of periodization is growth — both athletic and personal. It gives you a chance to reflect on your performance over the past week, month, and year.

How have you improved? What are your strengths? What do you need to improve on?

The most common types of periodization are:

Macrocycle: One yearlong cycle composed of several mesocycles and nested within a longer-term training plan. Mesocycle: A one-to-four month cycle composed of several microcycles and nested within a macrocycle. Microcycle: A one-week cycle composed of several training sessions.

Training Session: A combination of an aerobic workout, a workout and a weightlifting session (if applicable).

As you can see, there are different levels of periodization. Each successive level is built on the previous level. This means that if you’re new to fitness or training, it might be best to stick with the basics before moving on to more complex periodization schemes.

Periodization is extremely important and you shouldn’t skimp on the work required to build a solid periodization plan. If you’re a beginner, then it might be best to ask your coach to design one for you. He or she will have a good idea of what will be best to help you achieve your goals.

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Contrast Sets

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Contrast sets are an effective way to increase muscle size and strength by targeting opposing muscles in your body. For instance, you would perform a bench press on the Smith machine then follow it up with push-ups or dips to target your chest and arms. Since muscles have a tendency to adapt to a specific level of stress, varying your routine will give your muscles little breaks in between sets.

Contrast sets are especially effective when trying to break through a plateau. If you’ve been experiencing a stalemate with a particular weight, try using this technique to move past it. The quickest way to do this would be to pick an exercise that you can easily perform, but add in a contrast set.

For instance, if you’re stuck at 225 pounds on the bench press, do a set of 20 push-ups after every set you do with 225 pounds.

It’s important to remember that this technique should only be used sparingly. You don’t want to overdo it as this can lead to overtraining syndrome which can in turn cause you to lose strength.

13. Limit the Fatigue and Strain on Your Central Nervous System

Your central nervous system (CNS) is responsible for sending signals from your brain to your muscles so that they know what to do. An intense training session can really take its toll on your body, particularly your CNS.

This means that you should try to avoid training to complete failure or at least limit the number of sets you do so that your CNS doesn’t become overworked. Instead of going to complete failure, stop yourself one to two reps before failure. This way you’ll experience more muscle growth and strength gains without placing an inordinate amount of stress on your CNS.

If you’re experiencing an over training syndrome, you should stop working out altogether for at least one week. Your body needs time to recuperate and building more muscle won’t be a concern when you’re trying to heal your body from this type of stress.

Another way to limit the fatigue and strain on your CNS is by changing the order of your exercises. You don’t have to follow the traditional model of doing two arms and then two legs. If you’re feeling really beat, you can save your strongest muscle groups for last.

This way you won’t have to worry about wasting your energy on your weaker muscle groups.

The following is a sample arm and leg work out that puts the most strain on the body. Followed by one that reduces the amount of stress placed on the body.

Workout A

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1. Squat

2. Bench Press

3. Row for Calories

4. Pulldown

5. Overhead Press

6. Lunge

7. Curls and Tricep Extensions

Workout B

1. Lunge

2. Pulldown for Reps (12-15)

3. Row for Reps (12-15)

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4. Overhead Press

5. Row for Reps (12-15)

6. Bench Press

7. Row for Reps (12-15)

8. Curls and Tricep Extensions

14. Take a Day off Every Week

Just like you need to give your body a rest from time to time you also need to take a break from certain exercises. You don’t want to overwork certain muscle groups and stop growing as a result. Instead, take a day off from the gym every week in which you completely skip out on arm day.

You can either take the day off from weight training entirely or you can do something else like go for a long run or go play sports.

Take into consideration how strenuous your exercise is and how much time has passed since your last break because if you’re NOT taking any breaks at all then you are more likely to experience burnout and that’s something to stay away from when weight training.

15. Eat Enough Calories

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If you want to see results, you’re going to have to make sure your diet is in check.

What does that mean exactly?

It means that you need to be eating more than your average man. This is the one time that you’re going to want to eat for the glory of your physique because a muscular body is made in the kitchen.

Make sure that you are eating about five to six meals a day consisting of complex carbs and proteins. It would be best if you could eat something every three hours to keep your energy levels up and your metabolism running optimally. You also want to make sure that you’re eating the right foods.

While any excess calorie consumption will help you bulk up, there are certain foods that are better at delivering the nutrients your body needs to effectively build muscle mass.

The following are some examples of muscle building foods:

Protein: Eggs, Fish, Beef, Chicken, Greek Yogurt, Whey Protein, Casein Protein

Complex Carbs: Oats, Brown Rice, Quinoa, Whole Grain Bread, Whole Grain Pasta, Sweet Potato

Fats: Almonds, Walnuts, Olives, Avocados

16. Take a Multi-Vitamin

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While proper nutrition is of the utmost importance, getting optimal levels of each nutrient every day is nearly impossible due to several factors. One way to make sure that your body is getting all of the nutrients that it needs is by taking a multi-vitamin supplement.

Most people think that these types of supplements are only meant for people with poor eating habits but this isn’t necessarily true. Even if you eat a balanced diet, taking a multi-vitamin can still benefit you by giving your body nutrients that you might not be getting otherwise.

The best way to find the right multi-vitamin for you is to speak with your doctor because he or she will be able to recommend the correct dosage for you as well as tell you which are the best supplements for your body.

17. Sleep for 8 Hours Each Night

Good nutrition and exercise are going to do you no good if you aren’t getting enough rest.

If you don’t get enough sleep then how will you have the energy to go to the gym and work out?

You’ll probably end up falling asleep on the treadmill or dropping weights on your feet.

Most people need about eight hours of sleep each night to function at their best. However, as you get older this amount decreases gradually. By the time you’re in your sixties or seventies, you may only need about seven hours of sleep to stay alert during the day.

Regardless of your age, however, it’s important that you get a full nights rest because not only does it affect your mental alertness and performance but it can also have a negative effect on your physical health. Not enough sleep can make you more susceptible to illnesses and infections. It can even cause you to gain weight.

So the next time you find yourself wanting to stay up late to watch your favorite TV shows, remember that it’s best if you go to bed instead. Also, try to keep the same sleep schedule every day so that your body can get used to it. If you force yourself to stay awake until two A.M.

and then have to wake up at eight, you’re going to feel pretty miserable for the rest of the day.

18. Consider Using A Workout Buddy

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If you’ve been working out on your own for a long period of time and aren’t seeing the results that you want, then maybe it’s time for a change of scenery. One way to do this is by getting a workout buddy. Having someone there encouraging you and keeping you on task can be helpful because if you have someone waiting for you, you’re less likely to skip out on your workout routine.

Additionally, if you’re going to the gym with a friend then you’re more likely to actually go to the gym because it’s not as much of a hassle. You won’t have to worry about how long it’ll take you to get ready or how much of a hassle it is to go outside and get to the gym.

It’s also nice to have someone around that can spot you when you’re lifting weights. Although most of the machines are designed to be used with automatic settings so someone can’t easily drop the weight on you, it’s still better to have someone around who can catch the weight if something were to go horribly wrong.

In addition to having someone there for motivation, it’s also nice to have someone to talk to while you’re working out. Sometimes you just need to vent and have a conversation that isn’t related to exercise. A good workout buddy can provide you with this opportunity as well.

If you don’t have a friend to work out with, you still might want to consider joining a gym because chances are there are plenty of other people there who would be more than willing to act as your partner.

19. Keep A Positive Mental Attitude

Besides proper nutrition and consistent exercise, maintaining a positive mental attitude is one of the most important factors in achieving your goals. If you go into a workout thinking that you’re never going to get any stronger or gain any muscle then that’s what you’ll get. However, if you go in with the expectation that you will succeed regardless of the amount of time it takes, then you give yourself a much better chance of achieving your goals.

You might be the kind of person who doesn’t like hearing things like “keep your head up” or “stay positive,” but the fact is a positive mental attitude will get you much farther than a negative one will. If you find yourself starting to become frustrated or angry during your workouts, it’s best to take a step back and relax before getting back to it. Additionally, it might help to listen to music or watch an episode of your favorite TV show while you’re working out.

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Something that can take your mind off of the present situation can really help reduce stress and make the whole process more enjoyable.

20. Don’t Be Afraid To Accept Help

If you’ve been working out for a long time and have made little to no gains, it might be a good idea to seek help. Whether this help comes in the form of more intensive training from a professional or taking steroids to speed up the process, many people are willing to assist you in making the gains that you’re looking for.

If your main concern is staying natural, then hiring a qualified personal trainer can really help you reach your goals because they know which exercises work best and how to perform them to maximize results. They also keep you accountable so there’s no slacking off. On the other hand, if you’re more comfortable with the idea of taking steroids than visiting a personal trainer, you can always buysteroids online and start making gains in a much shorter period of time.

It’s ultimately your choice how you want to achieve your goal. Just remember that deciding to take steroids is a very risky choice and there are plenty of potential side effects that can do far more harm than good. Sometimes the side effects are permanent as well.

If you do decide to take steroids, you really should be working with a medical professional who can monitor your health on a regular basis and provide you with adequate healthcare.

21. Don’t Be A Meathead

While most of this list has focused on achieving your fitness goals in a healthy manner, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time to have fun and blow off some steam every once in awhile. Eating a few slices of pizza or drinking with your buddies every now and then isn’t going to make or break your fitness goals.

However, you do need to remember to stay within your calorie budget if you go off-track from time to time. An important thing to remember is that while alcohol has a lot of calories, your body does not metabolize them in the same way that it does other foods. This means that the calories in alcohol are not as easily burned off as regular calories.

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So while having a pint with your friends after work might seem like no big deal, you’d probably be surprised at just how many empty calories you’re really taking in if you continue this every day. Another thing to remember is that alcohol can also reduce your willpower. If you’re out at the bar with your buddies, it might be easy to say yes when someone offers you a line of cocaine to help celebrate your 21st birthday.

Maybe this isn’t a big deal and you’ve done cocaine many times in the past (with no major problems), but if this is something you’d rather stay away from, then it’s best to avoid the temptation altogether. Last but not least, it’s probably best to stay away from the really hardcore “iron pumpers” at your gym. The type of people that take things like “orthorexia” way too seriously and have a tendency to bully newbies, women, and younger guys.

While some may be helpful, most are only in it for themselves and are quick to make accusations if they see you bench pressing with incorrect form. If you’re new to lifting, it’s best to find a mentor that you can learn from rather than donning on the t-shirts and bandanas of lifters that are still wet behind the ears themselves.

The fitness lifestyle is one that should be enjoyed because it makes you feel great both physically and mentally. It’s not supposed to be something that causes you stress or makes you feel inadequate or insecure. So if you’re focusing too much on the hardline meathead types that seem to pervade the fitness industry, you might want to rethink your approach.

Whether you’re male or female, beginner or advanced, young or old, always remember to have fun and stay positive!

22. Stop Overeating

If you’re really serious about losing weight, one of the best things you can do is simply eat less food. This might sound simple and even obvious, but it really is that simple. As you get older, your metabolism slows down which means it’s a lot harder to lose weight.

Combine this with increasingly inactive lifestyle and it’s no wonder why so many people are overweight or obese nowadays. (Even many of those so-called “fit” people are actually overweight and don’t even realize it!)

In any case, the best place to start is by using a calorie counter to see how many calories you’re eating on average. From there, you can decide if you need to eat less food or possibly exercise more (or both). Another thing you want to do is make sure you’re not overeating at any particular time.

Many people eat way more than they should at certain meals (such as breakfast) and then don’t eat enough during other meals.

For example, if you’re eating 2,000 calories per day but you eat 3,000 calories at breakfast, you’re already behind the 8-ball and it’ll be that much harder to lose weight. It’s best to spread out your calories equally throughout the day so you don’t overeat at any particular time.

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In any case, if you want to lose weight then you’ll need to be in a caloric deficit which means you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming. If you’re serious about this then check out the Weight Loss part of the “Exercise” chapter as well to see some additional ways to cut extra calories from your diet.

23. Stop Being a Hypocrite

This might be a little harsher than the other items on this list, but if you’re going to blame other people for being overweight then you better make sure you’re not guilty of the same thing. This isn’t to say that you need to have a12-pack and runway model measurements, but if you’re going to call someone out then look in the mirror first and realize that YOU are just as much (or more) to blame.

If you spend all day pointing out other people’s flaws, then who are you really? Are you some exalted being that doesn’t have any faults of their own and is beyond reproach?

Get real! We’re all works in progress and none of us are perfect. The sooner you realize this about yourself and others, the better off you’ll be.

You also might want to consider that a lot of people who are obese might have emotional reasons behind it. For whatever reason, they might feel unworthy of being loved or they could be depressed. The last thing you want to do is add to their emotional pain by verbally abusing them like some self-righteous prick who thinks their opinion is the only one that matters.

Keep in mind that you don’t know what they’ve been through and what kind of experiences have led them to be the way they are. You don’t know their whole story and you certainly don’t have the right to judge them. You’re not a psychologist, priest, or even a friend for that matter.

You’re just an annoyingly judgmental stranger who needs to mind their own damned business and quit butting into other people’s lives.

24. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

I see this one all the time with people who are frustrated about their weight and/or health.

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