Let’s start off with one cold, hard fact: If you want to see physical improvement you MUST follow a “periodized” program. Periodization is a method used to adjust a training program to seek advancement in physical performance or aesthetics. Periodization, not randomization, is the key. The reason? With a periodized program you make minimal changes to your workouts each week. This is, arguably, one of the most effective ways for the body to adapt and improve throughout training. If you change too many variables then it becomes difficult for the body to adapt. However, you can’t follow the exact, same program forever. There must be a point where you change the system or variables in the same system in order to continue seeing improvement. The most important variable to consider is your level of training experience and time spent training.


Your body goes through 3 phases of adaptation:


  1. Alarm Reaction
  2. Stage of Resistance
  3. Stage of Exhaustion



This occurs the moment the body feels a new stress. This is very common for individual’s who have never trained or are trying something brand new. Everything from intermuscular, intramuscular, and neural adaptations begins to occur within a few days. For many beginners, this stage can last up to 1 year or more.



This stage takes place over years. Your body is continually adapting to the stress placed upon it. Your body is doing you a favor and making it “easier” for your body to handle the stress from your previous workout. While adaptions are still taking place it is more important during this phase, as compared to the ALARM STAGE, where attention must be paid to the training program and nutrition. Little adjustments here and there can be the difference in seeing continued growth or diminished returns.



This stage takes place when the body can no longer handle the stresses we’ve placed upon it. This becomes what is commonly known as “overtraining.” We have officially reached the point of diminishing returns. Instead of improving we are regressing.


So, how do we avoid the Stage of Exhaustion? Each level of training experience will determine how often to adjust your program:


  • Beginners: every 10-12 weeks
  • Intermediates: every 6-8 weeks
  • Advanced: every 3-4 weeks


Now, you know how often you should change your program. But, what should you change? The entire system? Not exactly. While variety is the spice of life it’s important to understand “variety” when it relates to training is not starting a completely new program. It could be as simple as changing the weight used in training. Here’s a simple guide to follow with regards to the variables you should change in your program:


  • Sets & Reps: Change every 1-2 weeks
    • Week 1 you perform 3 sets of 10 reps of 135lbs. Week 2 you perform 3 sets of 10 reps at 140lbs. That’s an increase of 150lbs of overall volume.
  • Exercises: Change every 3-5 weeks
    • Week 1 you perform barbell bench press. Week 4 you perform floor bench press. Week 8 you perform dumbbell bench press.
  • Intensity: Change every day and/or week
    • Monday you perform 65%-70% of your 1RM for 4 sets of 8 reps. Thursday you perform 75%-80% of your 1RM for 6 sets of 6 reps.


While there are more variables, the list above is the “meat and potatoes” of where you should pay close attention.  These changes may seem daunting to a beginner but are still challenging to a veteran lifter. Having trouble? Hire a coach!



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