THE SIMPLICITY OF PERIODICITY

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THE SIMPLICITY OF PERIODICITY  Frederick C. Hatfield, Ph.D., MSSInternational Sports Science Association               Ah, the good ol’ Soviets!  No grass grew under THEIR feet, betcha!  Busy, busy, collecting and recording data, more collecting, more analysis.  Try this training program, try that one.  Analyze, change, analyze, change.  Good, good, better, better.  Adjust, adjust. Then, POW!  Good, better, BEST!            Well!  That pretty much sums up the entire HISTORY of the Soviet’s much-vaunted sports machine.              This is a story about the most effective philosophy of training ever conceived, one which incorporates the celebrated concept of training periodization.  Before getting into the nuts and bolts, let me show you something that’ll hit you right between the eyes, that’ll set the bias of your mind running toward...(ready?)...something that’s relatively rare in these days of mercantilism, marketing hype and flying egos.  Cold, uncompromising, objective, data-based SCIENCE!            Say what you will about the Soviets’ failed Commie system or its formerly red (now merely blushing) perpetrators.  Say what you will about the demise of their empire, and the sad state of affaire therein today.  Their athletes are still there!  Here it is.  Four examples of a pre-competition training protocol for any given explosive type sport.  Between the eyes as promised.  The point?  Simple! Periodization makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE!                                                                                                            1                                                                          4                                  2                                                                        1                                    4                                  2                                    1                                    2                                                                        3                                  4                                    3                                                                      31234

     
STAGE ONE (6 Weeks) STAGE TWO(6 Weeks) STAGE THREE(6 Weeks)

 Caption: Four different protocols were tested to determine which produced the superior sport results as meaured by improved proficiency in competition:  All four employed three 6 week stages (mesocycles):            1. Plyometrics -- Weight Training -- Depth jumps            2. Plyometrics Weight Training -- Weight training;             3. Plyometrics -- Plyometrics -- Plyometrics;             4. Complexes -- Complexes -- Complexes (a “complex” is a workout comprised of a highly structured  combination of Plyometrics, Weight Training and Depth Jumps).            Clearly, in the short run (over six weeks), Protocol #4 was superior.  In the long run (over an entire 18 week mesocycle), Protocol #1 proved superior._______________________________________________________________________________             Now, I deemed it appropriate to start off with this example because it is so utterly exemplary of the tremendous value of short-term periodization in your training.  Long-term periodization is no less effective.  Long-term periodization, according to the Soviet originators of the system (Dr. Yuri Verkoshansky), involves a carefully planned approach to one’s entire sports career. You may not be an Olympic weightlifter, a shot putter or a high jumper (for whom the system above was originally designed).  Maybe you’re a bodybuilder.  I suspect so, since you’re reading this great bodybuilding mag!  So, let me do something for you along a similar vein.  First, the nuts and bolts of periodization, what it is, and how to construct one for your own unique body.  Then I’ll construct an example of one. (Just one, mind you!  Since you’re unique in all the universe, you’ll have to follow the rules on how to do it for yourself!  The one I do may not be thoroughly suited to your needs.) SHORT-TERM PERIODIZATION             Before beginning, there's a few "unique" words used in periodization training that you should be familiar with.  A "macrocycle" is an entire training cycle (for bodybuilders, an entire year).  Macrocycles are divided into "mesocycles" because as your training progresses, and you begin to make gains, your training objectives change accordingly.  For bodybuilders, a mesocycle would be one training cycle leading up to a contest.  Mesocycles are further broken down into "microcycles."  Each of your "body parts" -- legs, chest, arms, and so forth -- has its own unique recovery ability, and therefore require unique microcyclic fluctuations in training intensity levels.  The entire system is called short-term "periodization."  Here's a list of recovery facts to remember when planning your next training cycle using the short-term periodization approach: ·         Big muscles take longer to recover than smaller ones·         Fast twitch muscles take longer to recover than slow twitch·         Guys recover faster than girls·         You recover faster from slow movements than from fast movements·         You recover faster from low intensity training than from high intensity training·         Youngsters recover faster than older folks.·         As you progress through your career and get bigger and stronger, the stress you inflict upon your body also becomes greater, so recovery becomes more and more critical through the years;·         While it is not always advised, recovery is speeded up considerably by eliminating (or reducing) the "negative" or "eccentric" portion of the lifting movement;·         Sound nutrition and ample rest allow for more rapid recovery. And here are some training facts to remember as well: ·         Strength and speed are separate concepts requiring weight training with different percentages of maximum as follows:·         80 - 95 percent of max -- speed and strength developed together·         50 - 80 percent of max -- speed is developed more than strength·         95 percent and higher -- only strength is developedMaximum, to the Soviets, means “the greatest weight that can be lifted                               without psyching up.” Of course, the Soviets assume that you’re lifting the              weight with the greatest speed possible, the point of lifting it in the first                          place.  In all the world of sport, SPEED is King!·         According to Soviet theory, while speed is King, strength is the basic component of fitness in all sports.  It forms the basis for acquiring all other fitness aspects, and the strength requirements of each sport are unique.  ·         Thus, each sport has to be treated differently (i.e., a different periodization scheme).  For example, the Soviets taught their coaches that speed depends upon endurance in distance events, but upon strength in anaerobic events.  ·         Eccentric training never caught on in the Soviet Union, according to Dr. Verkoshansky, because it does not force adaptation in ligaments and tendons -- only speed-strength training (lifting the weight fast -- max effort, accelerating the weight with inertia assisting) can do that.·         As your competition draws nearer and nearer, your training objectives change, and therefore your training methods change commensurably.             Having listed these recovery and training facts, it's clear as to why you must divide your training into periods.  Here then are some of the important basics regarding the theory behind the need to periodize your training: ·         Planned training must bring you to peak form at a pre-determined date (e.g., a competition).·         Planning should make the process and end result of your training less haphazard and more predictable.·         The training methods you employ must be systematically ordered such that each "period" of training gets your body and mind ready for the next period -- a foundational approach.·         As your competition draws nearer and nearer, your training objectives change, and therefore your training methods change commensurably.  For example, it is wise to establish a foundation of limit strength first so that your speed training can be accomplished safely.·         Periodization helps to ensure that the seven “grand daddy” training principles respected throughout the training process. LONG-TERM PERIODIZATION             Long-term periodization is a bit different in scope but not philosophy according to the Soviet scientists. The scope encompasses an entire career in sports, but the philosophy is still one of planned progression.  One’s career in sport is segmented approximately this way: ·         Preparatory Stage: At around age 13, the athlete is admitted to a sport school for a 2 year initial preparatory period.  Mastery of sport technique is emphasized, as is general fitness.·         Instructional Stage: Then follows 2-3 years comprised of 70 percent heavy weight training for strength and 30 percent general fitness/sports training with technically correct sports techniques firmly in place.·         Sport Perfection Stage: Three years of intense sport-specific training in order to make the grade of “Master of Sport” in their respective sports (only 30 percent of all candidates in the old Soviet empire ever made the grade). HOW DOES PERIODIZATION STACK UP WHEN SCIENCE IS THE JUDGE?             I discussed the seven laws of weight training from most sport scientists’ perspectives in the article entitled “Systems” on my home page. I recommend that you re-read it if this synopsis isn’t enough.  Here they are again: ·         The Law of Individual Differences:  We all have different abilities and weaknesses, and we all respond differently (to a degree) to any given system of training.  These differences should be taken into consideration when designing your training program.·         The Overcompensation Principle:  Mother Nature overcompensates for training stress by giving you bigger and stronger muscles.·         The Overload Principle:  To make Mother Nature overcompensate, you must stress your muscles beyond what they’re already used to.·         The SAID Principle: The acronym for "Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands.”·         The Use/Disuse Principle: “Use it or lose it” means that your muscles hypertrophy with use and atrophy with disuse.·         The GAS Principle:  The acronym for General Adaptation Syndrome, this law states that there must be a period of low intensity training or complete rest following periods of high intensity training.·         The Specificity Principle:  You’ll get stronger at squats by doing squats as opposed to leg presses, and you’ll get greater endurance for the marathon by running long distances than you will by (say) cycling long distances.             Let’s get one thing clear right now.  If you periodize your training for maximum efficiency, every one of these laws will be obeyed.  There is no other way but the BEST way.  On the other hand, I’ve seen some pretty dismal training garbage in the past that has been referred to as a “periodized” program.  It may have been periodized, but it certainly wasn’t BEST!  In like fashion, if you do NOT periodize your training, there is NO WAY you can ever HOPE to have the BEST training system possible.            The example of contest preparation describe graphically below illustrates how each “mesocycle” is designed to prepare you for the next “mesocycle.”   Remember, though, your progress must be ever-upward.  That's the beauty of this system!  It requires that you follow the basic principle of "progressive" resistance body part per body part at the microcyclic level. _____________________________________________________________________                                     Supercompensation (Time To Train Again)                                                                        *     *                                                                 *                *Train_____________________Recovery___________________________________            *                                               *                           *               *                                       *                                   *                  *                                 *                                           *                        *                       *                                   Overreaching                                    *                                                                *                                                                                                            *                                                                                                                        *  Overtraining _____________________________________________________________________Caption:  The time between your workouts -- which includes both recovery and supercompensation processes -- will vary anywhere from a day to as many as 6 or 7 days, depending upon 1) individual recuperative ability, 2) efficient use of supplements, diet, rest and other restorative techniques, 3) size and type of muscle, 4) severity of the overload (especially the severity of the eccentric phase of muscle contraction, and 5) gender and age.               If you train again before recovery is complete you will overtrain (microtrauma of each workout accumulates and causes a reduction in the action potential of the muscle cells).   If you train again after supercompensation is at maximum, you’ll make gains, but nowhere nearly as efficiently.  That is because, by that time, atrophy has begun.  That is why workouts with MINIMAL eccentric stress are required during recovery period._____________________________________________________________________ AN EXAMPLE OF A PERIODIZED BODYBUILDING TRAINING PROTOCOL             Bodybuilders follow the same laws of training as any other group of athletes, but with a few critical alterations.  These differences arise because in all of sport, only bodybuilding places an absolute premium on muscle hypertrophy processes -- it is the entire point of the sport.                                                                                                                         C                                                                        C                                                                                                                                                         B                     B                        C                                 B                     B                                                                                                                                                              A                B                     B                                                         A A                                             A  Notice:  Intensity -- and PROGRESS -- is ever-upward.   

                                    Days of Rest After    Days of Rest After    Days of Rest AfterBody Part                   “A” Workouts            “B” Workouts             “C” Workouts_____________________________________________________________________ Chest                         2 Days Rest              3 Days Rest              4 Days RestShoulders                 2 Days Rest              3 Days Rest              4 Days Rest  Traps                          3 - 4 Days Rest         (No B Or C Workouts)Lower Back               3 Days Rest              4 Days Rest              (No “C” Workouts)Upper Back               2 Days Rest              3 Days Rest              4 Days Rest Biceps                        2 Days Rest              3 Days Rest              4 Days Rest   Triceps                       2 Days Rest              3 Days Rest              4 Days Rest    Midsection                 2 Or 3 Days Rest      (No B Or C Workouts)Quads                        3 Days Rest              4 Days Rest              5 Days Rest Hams                          3 Days Rest              4 Days Rest              5 Days RestCalfs                           2 Or 3 Days Rest      (No B Or C Workouts)

Forearms                   2 Or 3 Days Rest      (No B Or C Workouts)

 

             The time between “C” workouts will vary anywhere from 9 days to as many as 16 days.  The “A” and “B” workouts between the “C” workouts must be relatively devoid of damaging eccentric contraction in order to allow Type IIb muscle fibers a chance to once again appear.  The “C” workout will emphasize eccentric movements, forcing fusion between these fibers and surrounding satellite cells (called “hypertrophy”).               Incidentally, the Type IIb fibers are critical to athletes such as powerlifters, weightlifters, shot putters and jumpers.  That is why a full 2 weeks or so respite from damaging eccentric movements must be taken before the day of competition.  Detraining is easily avoided by weight training with concentric movements only.            As with normal periodization, the time between workouts for bodybuilders will vary depending upon 1) individual recuperative ability, 2) efficient use of supplements, diet, rest and other restorative techniques, 3) size and type of muscle, 4) severity of the overload (especially the severity of the eccentric phase of muscle contraction, and 5) gender and age.             For bodybuilders, as with other athletes, if you train again before recovery is complete you will overtrain (microtrauma of each workout accumulates and causes a reduction in the action potential of the muscle cells).  The chief difference is in the way bodybuilders must handle eccentric movements and their damaging effects upon muscle cells (especially the highly fatiguable, easily destroyed IIb fibers).            If you train again after supercompensation is at maximum, you’ll make gains, but nowhere nearly as efficiently.  That is because, by that time, atrophy from detraining has begun. PERIODIZATION FOR BODYBUILDING IS AS SIMPLE AS “ABC”             Notice in the above illustration that the progression is C-B-A-B-C-B-A-B-C-B-A and so forth.  That's a personal thing.  You can adjust it to fit your specific recuperative capabilities as you learn more about how your body responds to the schedule.  You may find that you can recover faster, so more frequent C workouts -- or fewer A's and B's -- are called for.  Or maybe you Type IIb fibers aren't recovering enough in a specific body part between your C workouts, so you add an A or a B.  That's appropriate.  The precise pattern is something only personal experience can show you.              "A" WORKOUTS are characterized by ample rest between sets in order to restore ATP, clear lactic acid and restore normal heart rate.  This is a very low intensity workout designed primarily to avoid detraining effects while waiting for the “C” workout.  Concentrate on training each bodypart according to how Mother Nature intended the muscle(s) involved to contract (e.g., with speed, limit strength or both).              The exercises performed for the larger muscle groups should be devoid of eccentric contractions to the greatest extent possible. If you don’t have the technology (e.g., isokinetic equipment) to make this possible, at least de-emphasize the eccentric phase by lowering the weight very rapidly (of course, avoiding the ballistic shock at the end of the range of motion).  For forearm, calf and midsection work, this does not apply because they’re principally red (Type I) muscle fibers, making them highly resistant to fatigue and microtrauma.              Also, it is not generally feasable to perform midsection, calf or forarm movements explosively, as these muscle groups involve very short ranges of motion.  In general, chest, biceps, and hamstrings movements are done explosively (contraction speed is their strong suit), while triceps, delts and quads are built for both speed and strength.  Your back, lats and smaller muscle groups should be worked for strength. "B" WORKOUTS  are moderate intensity workouts designed primarily to avoid detraining effects while waiting for the “C” workout.  The principal aim of this workout is to ensure that muscle size is not lost from myofibrillar, mitochondrial and sarcoplasmic atrophy.  As with “A” workouts, the exercises performed for the larger muscle groups should be devoid of eccentric contractions to the greatest extent possible.  If you don’t have the technology (e.g., isokinetic equipment) to make this possible, at least de-emphasize the eccentric phase by lowering the weight very rapidly (of course, avoiding the ballistic shock at the end of the range of motion). "C" WORKOUTS are called "holistic" sets. This is a maximum intensity workout, particularly because it is grueling and because eccentric movements are emphasized maximally.  It is performed nonstop, combining 2 or more exercises into one "giant" set. In other words, CONTINUOUS changing back & forth from explosive, heavy movements to slow, continuous tension movements with lighter weights.   No rest between 5s, 12s and 40s is allowed.  Do a total of about 200 reps nonstop. Repeat this holistic set once if you feel up to it, but no more.  It's possible to do this many repetitions because the muscle fibers involved in the explosive movements are not the same ones that are targeted in the slower movements.  So, while you're doing slow movements using red (slow-twitch) muscle fibers, for example, the muscle fibers you just got through exercising with explosive reps (white, fast-twitch muscle fibers) are recovering.  It is not necessary to perform calf exercises holistically.  Instead, "strength shoes" are worn daily in order to keep them sufficiently stressed for long periods of time.  Also, holistic sets are not used in forarm, midsection or calf training.  Because your low back is so susceptible to injury, you will do well to avoid holistic training there as well.  

 DAYS OF RECOVERY REQUIRED FOR EACH BODY PART BEFORE TRAINING IT AGAIN, AND THE RECOMMENDED EXERCISES FOR EACH BODY PART  BODY PART                        “A” WORKOUTS    “B” WORKOUTS    “C” WORKOUTS _________________________________________________________  CHEST                     2 days rest               3 days rest               4 days rest                                     Bench Press             Bench Press             Bench Press                                                                        Cable Crossovers    Dumbbell Benches                                                                                                            Cable Crossovers________________________________________________________  SHOULDERS         2 days rest               3 days rest               4 days rest                                        Dumbbell raises       Same                          Same, but do front,                                    (front, lateral and                                          lateral and inverted                                    inverted)                                                        separately_________________________________________________________ TRAPS                      3 or 4 days rest                                       Barbell Shrugs (Trapezii I & II)                                    Barbell Shrugs while slightly bent forward (Trapezii III & IV_________________________________________________________ LOWER BACK        3 days rest               4 days rest               (No “C” workouts                                                                                                            recommended -- too                                     Back extensions      Back extensions      much chance of injury)                    (Note: While it’s OK to work the lower back on the same day as legs, you                           should never do lower back workout the day before or the day following leg workouts) _________________________________________________________  UPPER BACK        2 days rest               3 days rest               4 days rest                                      Bent over rows         Bent over rows         Bent over rows                                    Lat pulldowns           Lat pulldowns           Long cable pulls                                                                                                            Lat pulldowns_________________________________________________________ 
  BICEPS                    2 days rest               3 days rest               4 days rest                                        Barbell curls              Seated incline          Dumbbell curls                                    (straight bar)              curls                           Scott curls (Barbell)             (Note: While it’s OK to work biceps on the same day as upper back, you should never do             biceps the day before or the day following upper back workouts) _________________________________________________________                         TRICEPS                 2 days rest               3 days rest               4 days rest                                         Pushdowns              Pushdowns              Pushdowns                                                                        French presses        French Presses                                                                                                            Nose Crushers             (Note: While it’s OK to work triceps on the same day as chest, you should never do         triceps the day before or the day following chest workouts) _________________________________________________________  MIDSECTION          2 or 3 days rest                                       Weighted Prestretched crunches                                    Russian Twists_________________________________________________________  QUADS         3 days rest               4 days rest               5 days rest                          Safety squats            Safety squats            Safety squats                                                            Leg extensions         Leg extensions_________________________________________________________ HAMS                        3 days rest               4 days rest               5 days rest                         Keystone Deadlifts Glute/ham raises      Glute/ham raises                        (prestretch ham-       Standing leg curls   Standing leg curls                        strings by tilting                                            Keystone Deadlifts                        pelvis, lower bar                         to knees)                         (Note: Quad and ham workouts typically best if done together)_________________________________________________________ 
   CALFS         2 or 3 days rest                          Strength shoes (worn daily)                        Standing calf raises_________________________________________________________  FOREARMS                        2 or 3 days rest                            Thor's hammer (pronations and supinations)                        Wrist curls (flexions)                        Reverse wrist curls (extensions)  

     
GENERAL MODEL FOR ATP & ATP/CP SPORTS PERIODIZATION 

 

MESOCYCLE I

(3-4 Weeks)

 

 

MESOCYCLE II

(3-4 Weeks)

 

MESOCYCLE III

(3-4 Weeks)

 

MESOCYCLE IV

(3-4 Weeks)

 

                      

Foundation Training (Limit Strength, Overcoming Weaknesses)

 

                                          

                                                Functional Strength (Limit Strength in Sport-Related Muscles)

 

                                    

                                                              Speed-Strength (Explosive Strength & Starting Strength)

 

                                    

                                    Plyometric Training (Jumps, Hops, Bounds, Weighted Plyos, Shock Plyos)        

                        

                                                                                                                        Overspeed Drills

 

                                    

                                                             Increasing Emphasis on Sports Skills and Strategies of Play

 

 

MESOCYCLE I

OBJECTIVES

 

 

MESOCYCLE II

OBJECTIVES

 

 

MESOCYCLE III

OBJECTIVES

 

 

MESOCYCLE IV

OBJECTIVES

 

 Reverse the effects of disuse lose fat begin getting rid of your weaknesses noted in your last competition period establish a serious training mentality   build on all your muscles’ limit strength continue losing fat maximize your progress in eliminating perceived weaknesses start to train your sport-specific muscles   maximize limit strength in your sport-specific movements final phase of fat removal get serious about your speed-strength training weaknesses all gone, now you maximize skill  all speed-strength movements  skills are most on your mind ballistic movements engaged in concentrate on your strengths strategize 

  

Note: Shading represents increasing or decreasing intensity level and training emphasis

 
MODEL FOR GLYCOLYTIC (LACTIC ACID) SPORTS PERIODIZATION 

 

MESOCYCLE I

(3-4 Weeks)

 

 

MESOCYCLE II

(3-4 weeks)

 

MESOCYCLE III

(3-4 Weeks)

 

MESOCYCLE IV

(3-4 Weeks)

 

                      

Foundation Training (Limit Strength, Overcoming Weaknesses)

 

                                          

                                    Functional Strength (Limit Strength in Sport-Related Muscles)

 

                                    

                                                            Speed-Strength (Explosive Strength & Starting Strength)

 

                                    

                                    Plyometric Training (Jumps, Hops, Bounds, Weighted Plyos, Shock Plyos)

           

                        

                                                                                                                        Overspeed Drills

 

                                    

                                                              Increasing Emphasis on Sports Skills and Strategies of Play

 

                                                    

Train Against the Anaerobic Threshold In Bouts of Increasing Intensity, Each Microcycle Lasts 7-10 Days

 

 

MESOCYCLE I

OBJECTIVES

 

 

MESOCYCLE II

OBJECTIVES

 

 

MESOCYCLE III

OBJECTIVES

 

 

MESOCYCLE IV

OBJECTIVES

 

 Reverse the effects of disuse lose fat begin getting rid of your weaknesses noted in your last competition period establish a serious training mentality get into lactic acid training   build on all your muscles’ limit strength continue losing fat maximize your progress in eliminating perceived weaknesses start to train your sport-specific muscles push your anaerobic threshold training   maximize limit strength in your sport-specific movements final phase of fat removal get serious about your speed-strength training your weaknesses all gone, now you maximize skill now push your lactic acid tolerance to the max  all sport-specific movements skills are most on your mind  ballistic movements as needed  concentrate on your strengths strategize final push with going to the max anaerobically  

Note: Shading represents increasing or decreasing intensity level and training emphasis


GENERAL MODEL FOR AEROBIC (OXIDATIVE) SPORTS PERIODIZATION 

 

MESOCYCLE I

(3-4 Weeks)

 

 

MESOCYCLE II

(3-4 Weeks)

 

MESOCYCLE III

(3-4 Weeks)

 

MESOCYCLE IV

(3-4 Weeks)

 

                       

Foundation Training (Limit Strength, Overcoming Weaknesses)

 

                                          

                                                Functional Strength (Limit Strength in Sport-Related Muscles)

 

                            

                                                                                    Hill Training

 

                                  

                                                                                                Speed Training

 

                        

                          Aerobic Threshold Training Increases in Intensity Throughout Training Mesocycle

 

                        

                                                                Increasing Emphasis on Sports Skills and Strategies of Play

 

 

MESOCYCLE I OBJECTIVES

 

 

MESOCYCLE II

OBJECTIVES

 

 

MESOCYCLE III

OBJECTIVES

 

 

MESOCYCLE IV

OBJECTIVES

 

 Reverse the effects of disuse lose fat begin getting rid of your weaknesses noted in your last competition period establish a serious training mentality begin aerobic training    build on all your muscles’ limit strength continue losing fat maximize your progress in eliminating perceived weaknesses start to train seriously for anaerobic strength(hill training)  maximize anaerobic strength in your sport-specific movements final phase of fat removal get serious about your speed training your weaknesses all gone, now you maximize skill train at altitude if possible  exclusively aerobic threshold training most on your mind are the skills of your sport strategize concentrate on your strengths train at altitude if possible 

 

Note: Shading represents increasing or decreasing intensity level and training emphasis

    PERIODIZATION REFERENCES Birsin 'The Basis of Training, 1925;  Bondachuk, A.  (1988).  Periodization of Sports Training.  Soviet Sports Review.  23(4): 164-166. Bompa, T.O.  (1983).  Theory and Methodology of Training--The Key to Athletic Performance.  Kendall/Hunt Publishing;  Dubuque, Ia. Chernyak, A.V., Karimov, E.S. Butinchinov, Z.T.  (1979). Distribution of Load Volume and Intensity Throughout the Year (Weightlifting).  Soviet Sports Review.  14(2): 98-101. Fry, R.W., Morton, A.R., Keast, D.  (1992).  Periodisation and the Prevention of Overtraining.  Canadian Journal of Sport Science. 17(3): 241-248. Gilliam, G.M.  (1981). Effects of Frequency of Weight Training on Muscle Strength Training.  Journal of Sports Medicine. 21: 432-436. Gorinewsky  'Scientific Foundations of  Training, 1922 Hakkinen, K., Komi, P.V., Alena, M.  (1987).  EMG Muscle Fiber and Force Production Characteristics During One Year Training Period in Elite Weightlifters.  European Journal of Applied Physiology.  56: 419-427. Hatfield, F.C.  (1989).  Power: A Scientific Approach.  Contemporary Books; Chicago, IL. Kopysov, V.S.  (1979).  Recovery in the Training of Weightlifters.  Soviet Sports Review.  14(4): 202-203. Kotov (Olympic Sport, 1917) Matveyev 'Fundamentals of Sports Training' (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1977), Medvedew, A.S.  (1983).  Periodization of Training in Weightlifting (Preparatory Plan For a Base Mesocycle).  Soviet Sport Review. 18(4): 157-161. Minchenko, V.G.  (1989).  The Distribution of Training Load Throughout the Yearly Training Cycles of Athletes.  Soviet Sports Review.  24(1): 1-6. Letunov (Reflections on the Systematic Formulation of Training: 'Sovietskii Sport', 1950). Plehjov, V.N.  (1991). How to Structure Training.  Soviet Sport Review.  26(2): 66-69. Sale, D.G., MacDougall, D.  (1981).  Specificity in Strength Training: A Review for the Coach and Athlete.  Canadian Journal of Applied                 Sports Science.  6: 87-92. Selye, H.(1991). Stress Without Stress.  J.R. Lippencott; New York N.Y. Siff & Verkhoshansky: 'Supertraining - Special Strength Training for Sporting Excellence', 1996). Sinclair, R.G.(1985).  Normalizing the Performances of Athletes in Olympic Weightlifting.  Canadian Journal of Sports Science. 10(2): 94-98. Stone, M.H.,O'Bryant, H.,Garhammer,J. (1981).  A Hypothetical Model for Strength Training.  Journal of Sports Medicine.  21: 342-350. Vsorov  'Basic Principles of  Training Athletes', Moscow, 1938).   
FINDING THE IDEAL TRAINING SPLIT  

(Unit Seven)

  

One of my favorite lines is, “I can pass by the weight room, smell the iron inside, and instantly begin to grow.”  Simply, some people tend to thrive on very little exercise, while others seem to be incapable of making gains no matter how hard, long and frequently they train. This was referred to as one's "tolerance to exercise," a term coined by Arthur Jones years ago.    One’s “tolerance” is high if more exercise is needed, and low if less is needed.  There are many variables that can affect your exercise tolerance.   Of course, “genetics” ranks highest on the list below (preceeded only by the use of drugs such as anabolic steroids), and you’ll notice several such factors. Others, on the other hand, are able to be manipulated in various ways. 

 

*           Red vs White Fiber Ratio

*           Tolerance To Pain

*           Level Of “Psych”

*           Amount Of Rest Since Last Workout

*           Perceived Exertion

*           Amount Of Eccentric Stress (Which Causes Connective Tissue Microtrauma)

*           Incentive Level

*           Strength-To-Weight Ratio

*           Time Of Last Meal (Energy)

*           Type Of Foods Eaten At Last Meal (Glycemic Index)

*           Use Of Ergogenic Techniques Or Substances

*           Musculoskeletal Leverage Factors

*           Motor Unit Recruitment Capabilities

*           Skill Level At Exercise Being Performed (If Such Is Required; e.g., Cleans)

*           Equipment Quality & Design

*           Environmental Factors (e.g., Heat, Cold, etc.)

*           Size Of Muscle Being Exercised

*           Various Intra- and Extracellular Biochemical Factors

*           How close you are to your maximum potential in size or strength

 

All these factors, and perhaps several more as yet undreamed of, will variably affect how frequently you should train each body part and how best to split your routine.

 

Several years ago, after chatting with Arthur and reading some of his thinking on the topic, I began charting other lifters' reps at 80 percent max.   I found that guys who were so-called "fast" gainers were only able to do 4-6 reps at 80 percent, while lifters who seemingly never made great gains were able to rep out at around 15-20 reps with 80 percent of their max.   Apparently, so-called "fast gainers" have rather poor anaerobic strength endurance.     This is explainable in part by the fact that they're probably mostly white muscle fiber, which has fast twitch/low oxidative capabilities.    Conversely, slow gainers are probably mostly red muscle fiber (slow twitch/high oxidative) and therefore may possess greater ability for rapid during-set recovery.

           

The problem is, however, that each muscle group's tolerance to exercise probably differs.    Each exercise you do for each body part can - and often does - possess an entirely individual rep ability at 80 percent max.  To discern your specific tolerance level for each body part, follow these simple instructions:

 

1. Determine your approximate one rep maximum (1RM) for each exercise.

 

2. Load 80 percent on the bar (machine) & rep out with it for one all-out effort to see how many reps you can do.

 

3. Apply this information to the table below to determine each body part's exercise tolerance.

 

4.  Take into account ALL of the factors listed above that can affect your exercise tolerance.

 

5.  Critically evaluate whether your predicted exercise  tolerance levels stand up to what you know from experience to be true.  Remember, “low tolerance” means that you probably make easy gains for that body part, and “high tolerance” means that you’re probably a hard gainer for that body part.

 

Here is an example of what I've found in regards to exercise tolerances for fast gainers, average gainers and slow gainers.  Perhaps you'll find these figures and estimations to be pretty close estimates.  But perhaps you won't.  One thing is clear, you must look!  Your continued progress toward your maximum potential may well depend on it!

 

Reps                Standard           Tolerance                      Ability

Performed        Deviation                       Level                           To

With 80% Max  From Mean                                           Make Gains

____________________________________________________________

 

4 or less                       -3                     Very Very Low               Fast Gainer (20-25%

                                                                                    of total population)

4-6                    -2                     Very Low

 

6-10                  -1                     Low

 

10-13                 Mean               Average                        Average Gainer (50-60%

                                                                                    of total population)

13-17                +1                    High

 

17-21                +2                    Very High

 

21-more            +3                    Very Very High              Slow Gainer (20-25%

                                                                                    of total population)

________________________________________________________________

  

Slow Gainers (usually predominantly red muscle fiber):

Days Of Recovery Required For Each Body Part Before Training It Again

 

                                    "Light Day"       "Medium Day"   "Heavy Day"

_________________________________________________________

 

Large Muscle Groups:

 

Upper Legs                   3 Days Rest      4 Days Rest      5 Days Rest

Lower Back      

 

Medium Size Muscle Groups:

 

Chest                            2 Days Rest      3 Days Rest      4 Days Rest

Upper Back      

Biceps            

Triceps            

Shoulders        

 

Smaller Muscle Groups:

Midsection                    1 Day Rest        2 Days Rest      3 Days Rest 

Calfs           

Forearms                    

 

Slow gainers often benefit most from 10 or more sets of 15-20 reps

_________________________________________________________

 

Average Gainers (usually a mix of red and white muscle fiber):

Days Of Recovery Required For Each Body Part Before Training It Again

 

                                    "Light Day"       "Medium Day"   "Heavy Day"

_________________________________________________________

 

Upper Legs                   4 Days Rest      5 Days Rest      6 Days Rest

Lower Back      

 

Chest                            3 Days Rest      4 Days Rest      5 Days Rest

Upper Back      

Biceps            

Triceps            

Shoulders        

 

Midsection                    2 Days Rest      3 Days Rest      4 Days Rest 

Calfs               

Forearms                    

 

Average gainers often benefit most from 5-8 sets of 10-12 reps

_________________________________________________________

  

Fast Gainers (usually predominantly white muscle fiber):

Days Of Recovery Required For Each Body Part Before Training It Again

 

                                    "Light Day"       "Medium Day"   "Heavy Day"

_________________________________________________________

 

Upper Legs                   5 Days Rest      6 Days Rest      7 Days Rest

Lower Back      

 

Chest                            4 Days Rest      5 Days Rest      6 Days Rest

Upper Back      

Biceps            

Triceps            

Shoulders        

 

Midsection                    3 Day Rest        4 Days Rest      5 Days Rest 

Calfs               

Forearms                    

 

Fast gainers often benefit most from 3-5 sets of 4-8 reps done explosively

_________________________________________________________

 

By critically evaluating your individual muscles' tolerance to exercise, you can more easily "fine tune" your training regimen to provide maximum gains in the shortest possible time.  But don't forget the other factors that may affect your recovery rate.     Look at the list again (above). How have you accounted for each of these variable's effect on your progress?  Have you raised or lowered your reps and sets accordingly?  Have you increased or decreased the frequency of your workouts commensurably?

Training intensity?  Have you taken into account your ratio of white versus red fiber, and adjusted your exercise load and movement speed accordingly?

 Why Can’t You Just Copy The Pros? 

Why is it that most newcomers to bodybuilding, and even most intermediate level bodybuilders, can’t make continued gains using a split they copied from one of the pros?  It’s quite simple, really.  First of all, you must be truthful with yourself in answering some basic questions.  Are you as fastidious as the pro you seek to emulate in all that you do?  Your supplement schedule?  Your diet?  Have you as much time “in the trench” as the pro?  How long have you been forcing your body to adapt to stress?  Most pros have forced adaptations to their muscles and other bodily systems that have taken years to accomplish.  As your body changes over time, your susceptibility to further change does as well.  New  forms of stress force different adaptive processes to occur, and each adaptation requires that different stressors and training schedules be devised in order to take your body one more step closer to its maximum potential.

 

So, as you change your body, your body demands different scheduling for further adaptation to take place.  It isn’t simply a matter of piling on more pig iron to satisfy the progressive overload principle.  It’s more complicated than that.  One of the biggest mistakes all bodybuilders tend to make is that they do not build their programs with this important fact in mind.  As you change, so must your training because your body’s “tolerance” to that level or type of stress has changed.  And, how you split your training can be an important source of new adaptive stress to which you have not yet adapted.

 

Most bodybuilders are not “hard gainers” or “fast gainers” in all body parts.  Further, as you get closer to your maximum potential -- where all professional bodybuilders are -- you may become a hard gainer, whereas earlier in your career your gains seemed to come easy.   Or, maybe you’ve remained an easy gainer but have yet to discover the type of stress your body now requires to force continued growth. 

 

Through experimentation, I assure you that finding your own level of "tolerance" (body part per body part) will make a big difference.   Where to begin?  Here are a few examples of how you can split your training program.  Adjust them at will.

 
Examples Of Three Days Per Week Single Split Training Programs For Easy Gainers:

 (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)

 

  M T W T F S S M T W T F S S M T W T

Upper Legs

H

           

M

       

L

     

M

 

Lower Back

H

           

M

       

L

     

M

 

Chest   

   

L

   

M

 

H

       

M

 

L

     

Upper Back

   

L

   

M

 

H

       

M

 

L

     

Biceps

L

 

M

   

H

     

M

   

L

 

H

     

Triceps

L

 

M

   

H

     

M

   

L

 

H

     

Shoulders

   

H

   

M

 

L

 

M

   

H

     

M

 

Midsection

M

 

H

   

M

 

M

 

H

   

M

 

M

 

H

 

Calfs

M

 

H

   

M

 

M

 

H

   

M

 

M

 

H

 

Forearms

M

 

H

   

M

 

M

 

H

   

M

 

M

 

H

 

      Example Of Four Days Per Week Single Split Training Programs For Easy Gainers:

 (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)

 

  M T W T F S S M T W T F S S M T W T

Upper Legs

H

           

M

       

L

   

M

   

Lower Back

H

           

M

       

L

   

M

   

Chest   

 

L

 

M

     

H

       

M

   

L

 

M

Upper Back

 

L

 

M

     

H

       

M

   

L

 

M

Biceps

M

   

H

     

M

   

L

 

M

   

H

   

Triceps

M

   

H

     

M

   

L

 

M

   

H

   

Shoulders

                                   

Midsection

M

   

H

     

M

   

H

     

M

   

H

Calfs

 

H

     

M

   

H

     

M

   

H

   

Forearms

 

H

     

M

   

H

     

M

   

H

   

    

Example Of Five Days Per Week Single Split Training Programs For Easy Gainers:

(Weekends Off):

 

  M T W T F S S M T W T F S S M T W T

Upper Legs

H

           

M

     

L

     

M

   

Lower Back

H

           

M

     

L

     

M

   

Chest   

 

L

 

M

     

H

     

M

     

L

 

M

Upper Back

 

L

 

M

     

H

     

M

     

L

 

M

Biceps

M

 

H

       

M

 

L

 

M

     

H

   

Triceps

M

 

H

       

M

 

L

 

M

     

H

   

Shoulders

 

M

   

H

     

M

   

L

   

M

 

H

 

Midsection

                                   

Calfs

L

 

M

 

H

       

M

 

L

   

M

 

H

 

Forearms

L

 

M

 

H

       

M

 

L

   

M

 

H

 

    

Example Of Six Days Per Week Single Split Training Programs For Average Gainers:

(Sunday Off):

 

  M T W T F S S M T W T F S S M T W T

Upper Legs

H

       

M

     

L

   

M

     

H

 

Lower Back

L

       

M

     

H

   

M

     

L

 

Chest   

   

L

   

M

 

H

       

M

 

L

     

Upper Back

   

L

   

M

 

H

       

M

 

L

     

Biceps

M

   

H

       

M

   

L

   

M

   

H

Triceps

M

   

H

       

M

   

L

   

M

   

H

Shoulders

 

M

   

H

       

M

   

L

   

M

   

Midsection

     

M

     

H

       

M

     

H

 

Calfs

 

H

   

M

     

H

   

M

     

H

   

Forearms

 

H

   

M

     

H

   

M

     

H

   

   Examples Of Three Day Double Split Training Programs For Average Gainers:

Monday Wednesday and Saturday:

 

    M T W T F S S M T W T F S S M T W T

Upper Legs

1

H

           

M

       

L

     

M

 
 

2

                                   

Lower Back

1

                                   
 

2

H

           

M

       

L

     

M

 

Chest   

1

   

L

   

M

 

H

       

M

 

L

     
 

2

                                   

Upper Back

1

                                   
 

2

   

L

   

M

 

H

       

M

 

L

     

Biceps

1

L

 

M

   

H

     

M

   

L

 

H

     
 

2

                                   

Triceps

1

                                   
 

2

L

 

M

   

H

     

M

   

L

 

H

     

Shoulders

1

   

H

   

M

 

L

 

M

   

H

     

M

 
 

2

                                   

Midsection

1

M

 

H

   

M

 

M

 

H

   

M

 

M

 

H

 
 

2

                                   

Calfs

1

                                   
 

2

M

 

H

   

M

 

M

 

H

   

M

 

M

 

H

 

Forearms

1

M

 

H

   

M

 

M

 

H

   

M

 

M

 

H

 
 

2

                                   

 
  

  M T W T F S S M T W T F S S M T W T

Upper Legs

H

       

M

     

L

   

M

     

H

 

Lower Back

L

       

M

     

H

   

M

     

L

 

Chest   

   

L

   

M

 

H

       

M

 

L

     

Upper Back

   

L

   

M

 

H

       

M

 

L

     

Biceps

M

   

H

       

M

   

L

   

M

   

H

Triceps

M

   

H

       

M

   

L

   

M

   

H

Shoulders

 

M

   

H

       

M

   

L

   

M

   

Midsection

     

M

     

H

       

M

     

H

 

Calfs

 

H

   

M

     

H

   

M

     

H

   

Forearms

 

H

   

M

     

H

   

M

     

H

   

  

Examples Of Four Day Double Split Training Programs For Average Gainers:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday:

 

    M T W T F S S M T W T F S S M T W T

Upper Legs

1

                                   
 

2

H

       

M

   

L

     

M

       

H

Lower Back

1

H

       

M

   

L

     

M

       

H

 

2

                                   

Chest   

1

 

L

     

M

 

H

       

M

   

L

   
 

2

 

L

     

M

 

H

       

M

   

L

   

Upper Back

1

                                   
 

2

 

L

     

M

 

H

       

M

 

L

     

Biceps

1

M

   

H

       

M

 

L

     

M

   

H

 

2

                                   

Triceps

1

                                   
 

2

M

   

H

       

M

 

L

     

M

   

H

Shoulders

1

                                   
 

2

                                   

Midsection

1

                                   
 

2

     

M

     

H

       

M

   

H

   

Calfs

1

 

H

     

M

   

H

     

M

   

H

   
 

2

 

H

     

M

   

H

     

M

   

H

   

Forearms

1

 

H

     

M

   

H

     

M

   

H

   
 

2

                                   

  

 

Comments

Thanks

Dear Dr Squat,
Thank you very much for this information. I have been lifting weight for around 3 years and i dont think i know more than half these things. as i read this article, i know i am quite on the right track. I will bear in mind your expert advice.

With great respect,
Tong

edit

edit

Using this as a guide for

Using this as a guide for just seven to eight months to train my friends Jamie Key and John West, Jamie Key entered an A.P.C. powelifting meet which was his first. In this particular meet was for the state of Geogia. In this meet, for qualifying age/weight class, he broke the total combonated weight of bench press, squat and deadlift by 427lb total. That record was set two prior years. Thank you Dr Hatfield for this knowledege.
Power and Dominion