Written by: Michael Kurek, ATC, LAT, Agnesian HealthCare Sports & Spine Center
Have you been doing the same routine at the gym and not been happy with the results? Try switching things up in your workout routine to maximize your time and effort. Whether you are training for sport or working out for leisure, doing the same routine is not only boring, but will eventually lead to a plateau or overtraining injuries.
When creating a workout plan, it is important to remember the principles of variability and periodization throughout the course of the plan. These two principles are the secrets to maximizing the improvements and benefits you are looking for!
Periodization consists of different phases that can be as short as one week to one month or as long as a few years. Utilizing periodization in your workout routine will allow for scheduled variations in specificity, intensity and volume, which allows your body to build, maintain and recover appropriately. The goals of each phase should be specific to what you want to achieve. In sports terms, most phases of periodization are known as pre-season or conditioning phase, in-season or competition phase, and off-season or recovery phase.
Conditioning Phase: Utilizes lower weight and higher reps, along with aerobic activities, to prepare the entire body for higher intensity exercises during the next phase. The main goal of the conditioning phase is to prepare our bodies to produce peak efforts during the competition phase.
Competition Phase or In-Season Phase: Consists of the timeframe we want to get the most out of our bodies. In this phase, our goal is for our bodies to peak during times of competition, such as games or maximum effort exercises.
Recovery Phase: Following the rigorous competition phase, this phase can contain either total rest or contain low intensity exercises that aid the body in recovery.
The principle of variability is a lot easier to understand than periodization. Our muscles adapt to routines we do over a course of a few weeks. Doing the same routine causes our bodies to go into a plateau and changes to our bodies stop. To keep our muscles guessing and learning new exercises, loads (the weight you lift) or intensities, it is important to change our workouts every four to six weeks. This change can be as simple as adding more weight, doing more sets or repetitions, or doing different exercises that reach the same muscles. Having a continuous variation in exercises, loads and intensities causes our bodies to constantly adapt and change to manage the workload being placed on it.
Now that you know the basics, start today. Incorporating these two principles in your workout routine, you will begin seeing the benefits and improvements you have been working toward!