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Understanding Periodization

Understanding Periodization

By Jason Tremblay PFT Certificate Program


Periodization can be defined as the systematic manipulation of training variables to elicit specific adaptations. The purpose of this article is to help you understand how to structure your training to maximize gains for whatever your goals may be. Let us start at the most basic level, understanding the cycles of periodization:


Microcycle – training phase that lasts 1 – 2 weeks.

Mesocycle – a summation of various microcycles, usually lasts 4 – 6 weeks.

Macrocycle – a summation of microcycles and mesocycles that lasts 1 – 4 years.


Now lets look at the various types of macrocycle structures:


“Mono”cycle – 1 major competitive period.

“Bi”cycle – 2 major competitive periods.

“Tri”cycle – 3 major competitive periods.


During these competitive periods the goal is to have the athlete “peak” for competition. Peaking is defined as, “the absolute zenith of competitive condition achieved by an athlete”. To peak for a competitive period, training phases need to be planned to allow the athlete to peak physically, mentally, technically and tactically for the date(s) of competition.


Next lets examine the acute training variables so you can start to identify the rationale behind certain training phases.


Choice of Exercise:

  • Depends on demands of sport or goals.
  • What equipment is available?
  • Primary exercises vs Assistance exercises.
  • Primary exercises should be multi-joint, transferability to sport.
  • Assistance exercises normally isolation movements.
  • Does the benefit outweigh the risk?
  • Is there a more efficient movement towards the goal?


Order of Exercise:

  • Compound before Isolation.
  • Exercises that require highest amount of coordination first.
  • Depends on demands of sport or goals.
  • Most intense to least intense movements.


Number of Sets, Reps and Set Structure:

  • Multiple set approach more beneficial.
  • Single set approach works well for beginners.
  • Depending on type of training total number of sets can vary from 10 – 40.
  • Cluster training? Dropsets? Forced Reps? Negatives? They all have their place.



  • Manipulated at submaximal loads.
  • Important for Hypertrophy, can control time under tension.
  • Ability to control which contractile phases are being trained (Isometric, Concentric, Eccentric).
  • Directly proportional to % of 1RM.
  • Longer reps can be used to enhance strength and size gains, not thoroughly researched but research is positive.



  • Depends on current phase of training.
  • Maximum Strength 3 – 5 minutes for ATP-PC repletion and CNS recovery.
  • Power 3 – 5 minutes for ATP-PC repletion and CNS recovery, 4 minutes for lactate removal if higher rep submaximal power being trained.
  • Muscular Endurance 30 – 60 seconds, want fatigue and its byproducts to enhance tolerance and clearance ability.
  • Hypertrophy 1 – 2 min, lower rest times as well as higher reps increases lactate buildup. Strong relationship between lactate levels and levels of GH and Testosterone are associated with a higher anabolic response.



  • Intensity of exercise dependent on training phase
  • Intensity is inversely proportional to repetitions performed.
  • Intensity of load dictates how much or how little CNS is fatigued. Important concept for periodization.
  • Strength 85% 1RM or greater
  • Power 75 – 85% 1RM multi-effort and 80 – 90% 1RM single-effort
  • Hypertrophy 67 – 85% of 1RM
  • Muscular Endurance Less than 67% of 1RM


Training Frequency (not considered acute programming variable but important)

  • How many times per week can you train?
  • Study was done doing same amount of volume on a body part in one workout, or dividing the same amount of volume across 3 separate workouts. Splitting training up works best.3
  • Skill based movements can be trained daily.
  • What phase of training are you in?


Now that you understand some basic programming considerations, lets examine some basic guidelines on the 4 main foundational phases of training:


Variable Strength Power Hypertrophy Endurance
Load (% of 1RM) 80 – 100 70 – 100 60  – 80 40 – 60
Repetitions per set 1 – 5 1- 5 8 – 15 25 – 60
Sets per exercise 4 – 7 3 – 5 4 – 8 2 – 4
Rest between sets (mins) 2 – 6 2 – 6 2 – 5  1 – 2
Duration (secs per set) 5 – 10 4 – 8 20 – 60 80 – 150
Speed per rep (% of max) 60 – 100% 90 – 100% 60 – 90% 6 – 80%
Training sessions per week 3 – 6 3 – 6 5 – 7 8 – 14

 Adopted from Supertraining.


Okay so by now you should understand at a very basic level why these guidelines exist, and how to create programs for strength, power, hypertrophy and endurance. This is the foundation of periodization, knowing how to create a program that will elicit specific adaptations. Now we can start to look at what happens to the body during training by examining a theoretical fatigue curve.


Heavy resistance training without adequate recovery time results in progressive fatigue (depletion) of the central nervous system. Now on an acute basis this is not a bad thing, depletion actually creates a stimulus for supercompensation. However, if progressive fatigue keeps occurring without adequate recovery time, overreaching or overtraining will occur.  This is why periodization is so important for safety as well as for maximizing performance. Without any plans for stress management (regeneration microcycles) you can chronically mess yourself up with overtraining.


To plan training phases its quite simple, what is your goal? If you are a speed athlete you should allocate more training phases (mesocycles) to power, speed and strength phases. If you are a bodybuilder you should allocate mesocycles to hypertrophy, strength and endurance.  There is no perfect way to organize training phases, there are pros and cons to each periodization system. Even though there have been incredible advances in sports science over the last 3 decades, there is still no 100% right way to train.  Don’t make the mistakes of failing to plan, create a periodization model, play around with training variables in your programs, and most importantly find out what works best for you.


Did you like the article? Did you hate the article? Send me an email TheStrengthGuys@Gmail.Com or you can follow me on Twitter @TheStrengthGuys




1. Candow, DG. Burke, DG. (2007) Effect of short-term equal-volume resistance training with different workout frequency on muscle mass and strength in untrained men and women. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.

2. Comfort P, Haigh A, Matthews MJ. (2012) Are Changes in Maximal Squat Strength During Preseason Training Reflected in Changes in Sprint Performance in Rugby League Players? Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.

3. Bompa, Tudor. Haff, Gregory. (2009) Periodization 5th edition.

4. McArdle, William. Katch, Frank., Katch, Victor. (2008) Exercise Physiology 7th edition.

5. McLester, John R. JR.; Bishop, E; Guillams, M. E. (2000). Comparison of 1 Day and 3 Days Per Week of Equal-Volume Resistance Training in Experienced Subjects. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.

6. Siff, Mel. (2004). Supertraining.

7. Souster, Mike. (2011). Periodization.

8. Stopanni, Jim. (2006). Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength.

Abdominal Training V2.0

6 Pack Ab Training V2.0

Like I mentioned in my last post, we are coming up on the 1 year anniversary of the Hunt-Fitness website. In honor of the 1 year anniversary I decided to create a remake of the first article that generated a lot of interest here on the blog. In May of last year “Secret to Six Pack Abs” was published and quickly became a hit. I was not surprised by this as abdominal training is one of the most popular topics in the fitness industry.

Although both “Secret to Six Pack Abs” and “Version 2.0” share many of the same characteristics, I have added a few features that will really amplify your RESULTS! In the Secret to Six Pack Abs blog I mentioned how important it is to train all four sections of the abdominals: upper, lower, obliques, and core. That fact has not changed however; this time around we are going to take it a step further. Not only are we going to train all 4 sections of the abdominals, but we are going to incorporate MORE stabilization techniques as well. When thinking about abdominal training two exercises normally come to mind, sit-ups and crunches. As many of my readers know (yes most of you are more educated on exercise than the general public) those are not the only two exercises to work your abs and not the two most effective either. The real keys to developing strong and muscular abs that create the coveted six pack that everyone wants is a combination of stabilization, added resistance and increased intensity.

Pure stabilization in reference to ab training is the ability to keep your back/spine aligned in a straight path. Basically the only real way to accomplish that is to perform a version of the plank. To make things more versatile and challenging we are going to incorporate both a regular plank and side plank along with progression techniques to up the intensity. There is also Dynamic Stabilization. This refers to the ability to stabilize the core while in motion. This opens up endless opportunities for exercises to be performed.

To go along with both pure and dynamic stabilization the ab workout is going to include direct ab work as well. The only difference here is going to be the use of added resistance along with intensity principles. Why is it that you see people do all kinds of intensity principles on muscle groups like chest and biceps but none on abs? The abdominals are like any other muscle and require a progressive resistance approach along with added intensity. Most people when it comes to ab training just increase volume to create a progressive overload. When just increasing volume to create a progression it becomes very easy to go through the motions and limit the intensity of the workout.

This ab workout is only to be done ONCE per week. I suggest training your core 2-3 times per week so for the other sessions do a workout similar to the one described in the “Six Pack Abs blog”.

6 Pack Abs Workout V2.0

–          Each circuit is to be performed with no rest in between exercises.


Sample Workout

Circuit #1 (pure stabilization) – 1 rotation through circuit

–          Plank hold for                                             60-90 seconds

–          Side plank hold for                                    45-60 seconds (each side)

–          Feet elevated plank hold for                 60-90 seconds

–          Feet elevated side plank hold for       45-60 seconds (each side)

Circuit # 2 (dynamic stabilization) – 2 rotations through circuit

–          Exercise ball knee tucks                         15-25 reps

–          Barbell roll outs                                          15-20 reps

–          Elevated side plank bends                      12-15 reps (each side)

–          Exercise ball mountain climbers         25-50 reps (each side)

Circuit # 3 (Direct ab work) – 2 rotations through circuit

– Kettlebell double crunch                  15-20 reps       *continuation set with…

– Kettlebell crunches                  10-15 reps       *continuation set with…

– Crunches                                        5-10 reps

– Hanging leg raises                                15-20 reps       *drop set with…

– Hanging knee raises               10-15 reps

– Weighted rotation on ball                   15-20 reps       * set with…

– Rotation crunches on ball        10-15 reps (each side)

*Bonus exercise to preform at the end…

– Turkish get up ladder                       5,4,3,2,1 (each side)

Note: Turkish get ups work the abs because the center of gravity is offset which causes your core to engage through the entire movement.

Try this Ab workout a shot and see if you see any noticeable changes in your physique.

As always I can be reached at If you have any questions regarding this workout or if you are interested in getting a custom workout or nutrition plan feel free to get a hold of me. I look forward to hearing from you!

Kyle Hunt

“One Dream, One Reality”

-Hunt Fitness


Periodization can be defined as a training program that is divided into separate time frames referred to as “macrocycles”, “mesocycles”, and “microcycles”. The training cycles change after a designated amount of time thus creating a new stimulus to the body. This style of training is becoming increasingly popular in the general public however athletes have been training this way for years.

Periodization offers many different benefits to the trainee that standard training programs do not. Everyone can benefit from using a periodized plan. For one, using a periodized plan allows for the body to develop in a progressive manor without reaching a plateau as easily. The changing cycles crete a different stimulous that act like steping stones to progress.  Secondly, periodization allows for the trainee to peak for a special event or a specific time. This is important because it is impossible to maintain optimum physical shape all year long. This fact is why periodization is so benefitial to the athlete that need to be at their best for a specific event as a powerlifter or strongman would. Lastly, using a periodized plan keeps the workouts fresh and interesting. Since the routine keeps changing it prevents the client from becoming bored.

Periodization can be used in any number of different ways. One way to use periodization is to use the law of overcompensation and overload. To make progress, ones training must progressively increase over time. This method of periodization can be done a number of different ways by changing up either the amount of sets, reps, exercises or intensity of the training. Another way to use periodization is through the GAS principle. A high level athlete must train at a very high intensity which requires ample time for recovery. The GAS principle rotates periods of high intensity with periods of lower intensity. Another way to use periodization is to train for a specific event. A powerlifter will use a periodized plan when getting ready for a competition. They might start out doing 4-6 reps during training and by the end they will be completing only 1 or 2 per lift. Periodization techniques are important for a trainer to understand and implement with their clients. It not only keeps the trainee making progress but it keeps them interested in the training as well.

Until next time I’m O-U-T!

Kyle Hunt

Be sure to join the Hunt Fitness Forum!

How to Survive the Holidays

How to Survive the Holidays

The holidays are a time when we as individuals come together and spend time with family and friends. This time of year can also wreck havoc on all of our training and dieting goals. However, this does not need to be the case. There is a way you can make it through the holidays without destroying all of your progress. Here is your own “Holiday Eating Blue Print” to stay on track!

– Train Hard

Just because its the holiday season does not mean you can take your workouts lightly. In fact the opposite is true. This time of year is perfect for working out harder. By training harder it makes it increasingly more difficult for your body to store fat. Also you might as well put all of those extra calories consumed to good use… building muscle! Also if you are not currently doing cardio add in 20-30 minutes of low intensity cardio over the holiday season for some extra calorie burning. The best time to do cardio is first thing in the morning and after your lifting session when your glycogen levels are at their lowest.

– Consistent meals

                The biggest mistake people make around the holidays is skipping meals. You know what I am talking about; you have a big dinner planed so you starve yourself all day to make up for it. The worst part is people think that actually helps them! What happens is when its time for dinner they end up consuming twice as much food and more junk then they would normally. The better option is to stay on your 5-7 meals per day as you should all be doing.  However, It can be beneficial to “plan in” extra calories but that just means to go a little lighter on the meals leading up to the big meal. DO NOT SKIP MEALS!

– Eat Veggies

Eat all the veggies you want with your meals. This is something I have my clients do year round and it can be even more beneficial around the holidays. I very rarely count veggies in a calorie count and consider them FREE. For a list of all of the veggies I approve to be FREE, check it out the Hunt Fitness Clean Food List . Veggies are low in calories and loaded with fiber which creates a feeling of fullness and can help you eat less.

– Make quality choices

                The good news is most of the holiday meals have healthy options, the trick is finding them. For starters one of the best lean protein sources is turkey breast. Like always you want to include a lean protein source with each meal so load up on the white meat! As for the side dishes sweet potatoes are excellent carb sources as long as they are not loaded with sugar. If possible ask whoever is cooking the meal to leave some plain sweet potato out for you. Those are two excellent options right there. I have turkey breast and a sweet potato almost every day! Add some veggies to that and you have a solid meal! Of course I don’t expect you to only have turkey breast and sweet potatoes but its an option.

72 hour window

                If by chance you go wild and chow down on a meal wait at least 72 hours before checking your weight. It will take that long for your body to readjust. Sugar/fatty/salty foods cause water retention so you will most likely be bloated for a few days, that’s normal. If you have been following your program the rest of the time you will bounce back without much noticeable difference after a couple days.


– Enjoy Yourself

That brings me to my next point….enjoy yourself! The holidays are supposed to be a fun time so don’t stress too much about blowing your diet. If you want to eat something then eat it. Consider it a high carb/high calorie day. You can even use it to your advantage on a carb cycle but that is a whole different article haha!

Happy Holidays!

Remember to join the Hunt Fitness Forum!!!

The Magic Formula

The Magic Formula: Is there really a secret to fitness success?

                The question in the title can be taken in many different directions. I know there are people reading this right now that are looking for me to explain a short cut or an easy way for them to achieve success. Sorry, that’s not what I mean. Other people are more realistic and think there is no magic formula and it takes years of hard work to actually achieve substantial fitness goals. Unfortunately the second group is also wrong, however hard work is very important. What I am about to explain is what I refer to as “The Magic Formula”. The Magic Formula contains three pillars of fitness. Once you have each one of the pillars mastered you hold the keys to achieving your goals.

The Magic Formula

Pillar 1- Nutrition

Pillar 2- Recovery

Pillar 3- Training

This is a fool proof plan. If you have all three pillars in “The Magic Formula” mastered I can personally guarantee success will be much easier. The hard part is mastering the formula and applying it properly. Remember everyone’s body does not react the same way, therefore there are a bunch of different nutrition, recovery and training techniques to get the job done, your job is to figure out what works best for you.

Muscle Building Tips Part 3: Training

Part 3 Muscle Building Tips: Training

Ok so in the first two parts of this miniseries we covered nutrition and recovery tips to help you gain muscle! Now in part three we are going to cover the top 3 muscle building training tips. Once you put all three into action (nutrition-recovery- training) you will have the necessary tools required to look Huge!!!

Tip #1 – Heavy compound movements
– This may seem like common sense but in order to gain muscle you need to lift heavy weights. I see way too many people in the gym looking to gain muscle but their workout consists of 75 percent machines. If muscle building is your goal (which it should be for most everyone who wants to look and feel better) then focus on heavy free weight compound movements. Machines have their place but your workouts should not be built around them.

Tip # 2 – Progression
– In weight training there is three main ways to make progress in your training, lift more weight, do more reps, or take less rest in between sets. Each workout you want to progress in one of these three ways. A key point to remember is you want to stay in your hypertrophy rep range for the most part so make sure the weight you’re using allows you to achieve muscle failure between 8-12 reps. Go to muscle failure! That is why choosing the correct weight is so important. You are missing out if you stop at 10 just because that was your target for that set. Pick a weight that forces you to stop at 10; you will see much better results if you do.

Tip # 3 – Use proper Form
– This is a big one. If people make one mistake with their training it normally has to do with form. There is a reason exercises are meant to be done a certain way. Make sure you are doing the exercise properly and in a controlled manor. If you are working back but you have an awesome pump in your biceps there is a problem. Get the form down before you start adding weight.

Make sure to check out the “Online Bodybuilding Club” at the top of the site!