I still see confusion among lifters (especially newbies and intermediate) on how to structure their own training program when they don't have a coach.
Of course, there are tons of free programs on the Internet and lots of free resources but I do think it's important to understand the basics of periodisation in order to be able to create a routine based on the individual, goals, weaknesses and years of training.
Whether you are a powerlifter, bodybuilder or both (hybrid athlete) you want to start by setting a long term goal that can be achieved over a specific period of time. For example, it can be achieved within 6 or 12 months.
Then you want to break this long term goal down into a smaller one. This would be your mid term goal that can be achieved within 4 to 6 weeks.
Your mid term goal is then broken down into an even smaller goal that can be achieve within 5 days.
To use the correct terminology in periodisation your long term goal is called Macrocyle (6 / 12 months).
Your mid term goal is called Mesocycle (even called "training block" or "training cycle" - 4 / 6 weeks).
Your short term goal is called Microcyle (what really goes on in a training week).
Now that you have set a big chunk of time for your training it's time to plan individual blocks (smaller chunks of time).
Let's take as an example an intermediate lifter who wants to focus on building muscles and gain strength. He also signed up for a powerlifting meet in 6 months time.
In order to achieve his ultimate goal he will have to give himself specific directions to how its training is going to be structured.
There are 26 weeks in 6 months. He mentioned he would like to build more muscles so he will have to focus on hypertrophy first.
He also said he would like to get stronger because he has a meet in 6 months so after spending a decent amount of time focusing on hypertrophy and building up his training volume he will then focus on strength. Following the strength cycle there's the peaking cycle where he will practice the competition lifts and get ready for his meet.
Let's take a look a the breakdown:
BLOCK 1 - 2: HYPERTROPHY (powerlifting terminology: ACCUMULATION PHASE)
BLOCK 3 - 5: STRENGTH (powerlifting terminology: TRANSITION PHASE + INTENSIFICATION)
BLOCK 6: PEAK (getting ready for the powerlifting meet)
Let's analyse the training blocks (mesocycles) a bit more:
BLOCK 1 - 2: Time to gradually build up more training volume, increase work capacity and focus on weaknesses. it's an opportunity to include more lifts variation instead of keeping the competition lifts only (for example: safety bar squat, front squats, block pulls, rack pulls, incline bench, etc.) and add more accessory work and isolation exercises for hypertrophy.
Rep range here can vary from 8 to 10 reps.
BLOCK 3 - 5: In this phase intensity slowly increases while volume is slowly reduced. At the beginning of the block you can still keep some lifts variation but you might want to consider choosing variations that are more similar to the big 3. Keep your accessory work but change the rep range to get stronger on those too.
Break down this block in two parts: week 3 and 4 is a transition phase where intensity gradually increases. Week 5 is the intensification phase. It's time to include the competition lifts only and practice them. You might want to consider removing some of your accessory work.
Rep range here can vary from 3 to 6 reps.
BLOCK 6: Time to reduce the volume completely and keep the intensity high. Practice the competition lifts and test close to your 1RM. Slowly tapering down in preparation for the event.
Rep range here can vary from 1 to 3.
This is a way to understand the basics of periodisation and how you can plan your training blocks in preparation for an event or whether you would like to test your 1RM.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will discuss what really goes on in a training week :)
If you have any questions at all or you would like to discuss about your current training program leave a comment below or contact me.
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