The human body is a miraculous specimen. One evolutionary trait however can be detrimental to your exercise success: adaptation. Your body has the ability to adapt to stimulus it is presented with, such as walking, running, or a weight training regime. After multiple sessions, the body will begin to get better at that activity, burning fewer calories and building less muscle. This can cause a plateau in results. The solution is to constantly mix up you workouts to maximize caloric expenditure, muscular growth, and nervous system response.
Being a Strength & Conditioning Coach (CSCS) I train my clients like athletes, also known as how everyone should train. Athletes are lean, strong, and healthy; goals of almost every client I have. To prevent adaptation and create increases in size (hypertrophy), power, strength, and endurance, training should be done through a periodization model. For athletes, this model is an extremely descriptive plan that takes all competitions and seasonal goals into account. For the average person, I use a modified version of Matveyev’s model of periodization in which I created (and continue to develop for better results).
Here is my model for the average Joe:
A typical plan for has 4 stages, or microcycles, with each stage defining a specific type of training to be done. The duration of each microcycle varies, but I have experienced great results with each lasting 4-6 weeks and a whole plan lasting 4-6 months. As you can see, the periodization follows a step latter like approach. This is designed to continually add variation to the training program, thus avoiding adaptation and plateaus.
Below is my version of the periodization model that is highly based off of the NSCA’s Periodization Model for Resistance Training. This summarizes the general rule of thumb for how many sets and repetitions are used during each stage. Rest period also varies by stages, but the length depends on the individual’s goals and what they are training for.
From professional athletes, recreational athletes, to the average person trying to lose excess weight, a periodization model needs to be personally designed to meet your needs. Exercise is not a one size fits all remedy. Just like your physician takes all health issues into account to create the best diagnosis and prescription he/she can conclude, exercise plans are the same way. Your current lifestyle, job and family demands, and short and long-term goals need to be analyzed to prescribe the most successful plan possible. All this starts with the basic skeleton of the periodization model.
Periodization Model information is from the NSCA’s (National Strength and Conditioning Association) Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning Textbook by Thomas Baechle and Roger Earle.