Periodizing your weight training programme for more muscle

By Marwan / July 9, 2014

Hey guys, I am back again and this time with another topic which a lot of people neglect and that is periodization.

I am going to try and keep it fairly simple for you rather than going into too much detail.

As we described in an earlier article about how many reps you need to build muscle, here to keep putting a new stimulus on our bodies we need to change the way we train.  We can do that by changing our training programme or by manipulating the various variables that go with it and the list is endless.

So how can we or what can we do to periodize our workouts?

Well, here are some of the method of periodization,

We can manipulate the number of reps

We can manipulate the number of sets

We can manipulate the time under tension (TUT) – we can go 4 seconds eccentric one day then 2 seconds the next

We can manipulate the number of exercises we do per body part – as an example we can do 4 exercises per body part then do 3 the next time.

We can manipulate the length of time that we train for – so train for 20 minutes one day then 60 minutes the next

We can manipulate the rest periods – we can do 30 seconds rest periods all way up to 3 minutes

We can manipulate the number of exercises we do per workout

We can manipulate the number of days that we train – we can train 3 days per week and then train 6 days the next week.

We can manipulate which body parts to pair up together – so pair up back and chest or chest and arms

We can manipulate whether we choose to train each muscle group separately or together

We can manipulate the number of days that we are training

There are 3 models of periodization

Standard – where the variables are the same week in week out, the load and reps don’t change nor do the exercises.  The only people who should be training in here are complete beginners as there isn’t enough of a stimulus for intermediates or advanced trainees.  The disadvantages are that the intensity doesn’t go up.

Linear – The volume drops progressively so the load is going up from week to week.  Big advantages of this model is volume is dropping each week which allows you to gradually increase the load. As the weights get heavier the rest times will increase so you will be de-training the metabolic cycle as we talked about here.

Alternating –  This is only for advanced trainees, whereby the workout are constantly changing.

So the take home message is that in order to keep making progress you need to periodize your training so that you don’t become stale and you force your body to continually adapt.  Remember your body hates being out of its comfort zone, it craves homeostasis.  By periodizing your training you will maximize your muscle gains as you are forcing your body to become stronger so that it doesn’t have to experience the same pain again. In order to do this your body will build muscle to be able to cope with the stimulus that is being thrown at it.  The key is to keep your body adapting to different stimulus and by doing that you will be making progress.

Periodizing also prevents boredom from being on the same programme for weeks on end and can break through plateaus.  If you’ve hit a plateau then it is likely that your body has got used to the stimulus and so it is time to hit it with something else.

I hope this makes sense guys, I will be back soon with another article.

Until next time



About the author


Hi, my name is Marwan and I set up this site to help skinny guys and girls just like you to end their frustrations and have the body of their dreams. I believe there are no limitations to what mankind can achieve.