Periodization helps with continuous performance improvement
Anyone who trains regularly would like to continuously improve their performance. If this does not work as desired, if performance stagnates or even declines, incorrect periodization can often occur. But this does not have to be the case: If you divide your training or workout into cycles, you have the best chance of making progress.
The body adapts
Some claim that our bodies are pretty stupid. Others, however, think it is brilliant. Especially when it comes to athletic performance. Because your body only gives as much as you put in before. However, our body can quickly get used to new stresses. This is called adaptive ability. But if you keep the load the same over the long term, you have to reckon that your performance will not improve any further and may even decrease. Sensible periodization can prevent this standstill.
The training cycles in periodization
Every sports student learns in the first semesters that reasonably structured training should be divided into different cycles:
- The subdivision is into macro-, meso- and microcycles.
- The macrocycle usually covers a period of half a year and is interesting for competitive athletes.
- A mesocycle lasts four to twelve weeks.
- A microcycle, on the other hand, lasts only one to two weeks.
Training divided into mesocycles and microcycles is also recommended for ambitious fitness athletes. This is the best way to achieve a continuous increase in performance. The training is more varied and motivating. Also, the risk of overtraining is then minimal.
First strength endurance then hypertrophy
Those who want to consider periodization in their fitness program should keep the following in mind. Beginners best start strength training with an eight- to twelve-week mesocycle. The focus should be on strength endurance. Three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions per exercise at an intensity of 40 to 70 percent of maximum strength have proven ideal for training strength endurance and building a corresponding foundation. The 40 percent is recommended for all complete beginners or who have not done any sport for many years. Beginners who are reasonably physically fit can also work at 50, 60, or 70 percent. Tip: Give your body these three months. Get a reasonable basis; only then does it make sense to also take care of muscle growth, i.e., hypertrophy.
- Muscle growth is best achieved through three sets of eight to twelve repetitions at a load of 60 to 90 percent of maximum strength. Wave training is also beneficial.
- If you have reached a certain level after a few weeks, you can also perform a maximum strength training microcycle as a beginner. This helps to improve intramuscular coordination.
- Intramuscular coordination is essential because it improves the nerve-muscle interaction within a specific movement sequence. In other words: Over time, you need less strength to lift the same amount of weight. Advanced exercisers can also perform maximum strength training as a mesocycle.
The speed of movement
If you want to give an additional training stimulus, you can vary the movement speed during the individual exercises. The keywords in this context are concentric and eccentric training. Here is an example: When you press a weight upwards during the bench press, this is the concentric phase. Lowering the weight is the eccentric phase. The transitions should be as smooth as possible. This works best with a short rest, which is called the static phase.
What makes the eccentric phase so important
If you want to train the muscle optimally, you should keep the tension permanently. When doing the bench press, it is better not to let the weight come up on the chest but to stop shortly beforehand and then move it up again. This sounds simple, but many athletes make a mistake. They concentrate too much on the concentric phase and too little on the eccentric phase. It is usually performed much faster and also less cleanly, as studies have shown. This is not only bad for the joint, but also for the training effect. It is precisely in the eccentric phase that you can develop much more strength. Therefore, it should be performed at the same pace or even a little slower than the concentric phase.