Image credit: joaobambu
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication – Leonardo Da Vinci
Why making things complicate if you can get the same results by keeping things simple? Reader Edsel asked what I thought about Periodization. Here’s my reply.
Workout to workout increases work well if you’re a beginner: fitness gains occur fast & fatigue doesn’t last long. That’s why you’ll achieve a 70kg Squat for 5×5 within 2 months on StrongLifts 5×5.
But the workouts get more stressing once you’re an intermediate. You’re doing Squats with 1.5x your body-weight. Squat heavy on Monday and you’ll still feel it on Thursday. That’s why the Texas Method includes light days.
Periodization. Periodization is different. Rather than using workout-to-workout or week-to-week increases, you work with blocks in which volume and/or intensity vary. Usually these blocks are 3-4 weeks in length. Examples.
- Bill Starr Advanced. 4 volume weeks: 5×5. 1 week deload. 4 intensity weeks: 3×3. Weight increases weekly.
- Smolov. 3 volume weeks: +130 Squat reps/week. 2 weeks deload. 4 intensity weeks. Weight increases daily/weekly.
Bill Starr Advanced & Smolov are linear periodization.
So What’s Best? Many of you ask: “How long should I do StrongLifts 5×5?“. As long as possible. Your benefit as a beginner is that you can add weight every workout. If you stall: one step back, 2 step forwards, repeat.
Progress takes longer with intermediate routines like the Texas Method: you’re using weekly increases. With Smolov you’re stuck for 13 weeks: miss workouts & you don’t get results. That’s why periodization is for for advanced trainees.
Lucas hits the nail on the head:
People who try to tell you that everyone needs to use some highly complex, periodized system are usually trying to sell you some highly complex, periodized system.
In my opinion, they’re quacks who want to separate you from your money by making you think that exercise is this big confusing thing and you need their help to figure it out.
When Should You Switch Program? When you can’t add weight each workout anymore. When you can Squat 1.5x your body-weight. When you deloaded 3x on your Squat. All of that can take 3 to 9 months.
Beginners can progress faster than intermediates. Make sure you can’t increase the weight each workout anymore before switching to weekly increases or periodization. Always remember: you’re a beginner longer than you think.