How to Develop a Periodized Workout Plan

January 25, 2013 | Raymond Tucker

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If you're looking to get the most out of your training program, you must understand basic periodization strength training principles. Simply going to the gym and working out will help for a short time. But without a plan, you will eventually plateau out and fail to make gains.

Periodization is a system of training used to prevent overtraining and reduce the risk of injury by progressing slowly from one phase to the next. You start by using light weight (or just your body weight) and performing more reps; and you gradually progress to heavier weight and fewer reps.

Several periodization strength training models are employed by coaches and athletes today, including traditional, step-wise, undulating and over-reaching. If this is your first time using a periodized training program, I recommend sticking to a traditional program to learn how the system works.

12-Week Program

Always remember to maintain correct technique when performing an exercise.

Phase 1: Foundational Strength and Endurance

This phase introduces the body to training and prepares the ligaments and tendons to lift heavier weight. Check out STACK's Bodyweight Exercise Guide for some exercises to get you started.

  • Duration: 3-4 weeks
  • Volume: 3x12-15 with 30 to 90 seconds rest
  • Intensity: light weight

Phase 2: Hypertrophy

The phase is all about building muscle. High reps are performed with moderate weight to challenge the muscles to fatigue, stimulating size gains.

  • Duration: at least 4 weeks
  • Volume: 3x10-12 with 30 to 90 seconds rest
  • Intensity: 50-75% max

Note: When performing exercises is this phase, lower the weight in a slow controlled movement. Your goal is to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible.

Phase 3: Strength

The phase builds on the hypertrophy phase, beginning to build overall muscular strength by lifting heavy weight for fewer reps.

  • Duration: at least 4 weeks
  • Volume: 3-5x4-8 with 1.5 to 2 minutes rest
  • Intensity: 80-90% max

Phase 4: Power

The final phase converts the strength gains you made in phases 2 and 3 into explosive power than you can use on the field. This phase is primarily designed for big lifts, such as Squats, Cleans, Bench Press and Deadlifts.

  • Duration: 3-4 weeks
  • Volume: 3-5x2-5 with 2-3 minutes rest
  • Intensity: 75-95% max

After you complete this 12-week cycle, have your coach test you to measure your gains. Rest for a week and then repeat the cycle to continue making strength gains.

Here's an example of a sport-specific periodized workout plan: The Complete Off-Season Football Workout.

Topics: WORKOUT PLAN
Raymond Tucker
- Raymond Tucker, CSCS, a Level 1 Track Coach certified by the United States Track and Field Association and Level 1 FMS certified by Functional Movement...
Raymond Tucker
- Raymond Tucker, CSCS, a Level 1 Track Coach certified by the United States Track and Field Association and Level 1 FMS certified by Functional Movement...
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