In the last video, I covered 5 pretty common reasons that newer and lower-level lifters hit a brick wall too early. For those who don’t show up to the gym consistently, don’t put in a lot of effort or hop from goal to goal too quickly, consistent progress is surely not going to be in the cards. For those who have been around a little bit longer and got strong by figuring out that hard work and consistent effort is essential, continued progress is going to come down to more subtle factors relating to programming.
Everybody knows the term periodization. It’s the backbone of every programming article and it’s been the point of many books, brands and systems. In spite of all of the writings, it still remains a common point of confusion. The only thing you need to understand is that it prescribes putting your training into different phases, or periods, to allow you to make logical decisions. The Base/Peak dynamic I talk about in my books is just an over simplified way of conceptualizing what this process has been doing for decades. One phase is dedicated to volume, another to intensity. One to building a wide base with a broad variety of exercises and training threshold, the other to develop more sports specific skill.
This not only allows you to optimize how much development you see in the specific areas but it also keeps you fresh to the stimulus. For example, while you are spending time accruing volume, that’s time that you are not spent doing heavy singles or training under high intensity. That means you get a certain amount of detraining which makes you much more sensitive when it appears back in your training.
But breaking your training into phases doesn’t make a bit of difference if you aren’t adjusting for recovery. This is the main thing that side-lines lifters once they become intermediate. Because the newer lifters can get away with high efforts and low recovery, training is usually done frequently and with lots of effort. As strength levels increase this can’t be sustained and it isn’t until the lifter hits a brick wall that they realize it. Your split along with the types of exercises and the total amount of work and effort is going to affect your ability to recover. It is up to you to find a sustainable cruising altitude of training stress that will provide enough stress for you to grow but not so much that you over-train.
In no particular order the five variables that side line intermediate and advanced lifters are as follows:
- Not adjusting for the change in recovery ability.
- Not putting training into phases.
- Not preventing/training weak points
- Not getting the most out of ‘off-season’ training.
All of these points relate back to the need for some form of periodization. Training has to be in phases so that you can prioritize different qualities and build off of them in a logical sequence. Whether that’s through DUP, concurrent or linear periodization doesn’t matter as long as those variables are addressed in some way. Periodization also allows you to address weak areas in a logical order. Broader developmental movements can round out your physique and increase muscle mass in areas that might not otherwise be stimulated and those can logically go in an offseason or base / hypertrophy phase of training. More sport-specific weak point targeting or specialized movements that expose you to load by working the top end fit nicely in intensity or Peak phases. And it is only by training each phase as seriously as the other that you can continue to grow past the point of old plateaus.