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Why Use Undulating Periodization For Your Training?

Why Use Undulating Periodization For Your Training?

  1. How do you organize your workouts to achieve optimal results? 
  2. What style of programming are you implementing to get the biggest return on your workouts? 
  3. What do you know about periodization? 

So what is undulating periodization? Well I’ll come back to it in a minute. Before I do traditionally there have been many models to programming workouts over monthly training cycles to progress strength and muscle gains. When looking at organizing relative training cycles we tend to think of linear periodization as the common plan of approach.

Undulating Periodization 

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For instance, linear periodization comes to mind. You can look to the sport of football as one example of this.

So how does this work?

Well if you look at the sport of football over a calendar year it has a pre-season, in-season, and off-season time schedule.

During these different time periods the goals for training these athletes changes. As a result the model of training that has been used has typically been linear periodization.

For instance, in the off-season the strength and conditioning goal for the football athlete is to get as big, strong, and fast as possible. This is achieved by gradually escalating the training intensity of the athlete over time. This is done to lead them up to the actual pre-season.

The idea here is that once the football player reaches the pre-season and start of the in-season they should be physically peaked. They should be in optimal shape as they start playing in their games.

Ok so are you with me so far? Just hang in there a bit longer because I’m going to tie this altogether in just a bit.

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Learn how to apply undulating periodization directly to your workouts. Click the image!

However once the season starts then the focus shifts to being more of a maintenance of strength and player health. This is the case since much of the physical stress the player is experiencing is now coming from their in-season games.

This is an example of linear periodization.

However, the problem with linear periodization is that it generally works best having the athlete on a fixed schedule. In this case it would be like a collegiate, or pro football team.

So what about the rest of us? What about other athletes that have fluctuating schedules?

This is where undulating intensity, or undulating periodization is a much better approach.

With undulating intensity I want you to imagine a wavelength. When looking at this wavelength there are high points and low points in the wave.

In this wavelength the high points represent higher days of intensity and the lower points represent lower days of intensity. With undulating intensity you can structure your programming like this on a weekly basis.

That’s right, you can literally train for size and strength in the same working week.

As a result this allows you to recover from one physical stress so that you will be prepared for the other. At the same time this will also preserve your joint integrity.

A simple way you can apply undulating periodization is to look at a 4 day split. Let’s say in a given training week you train strength for 4 days.

In these 4 days let’s say you train your upper and lower body twice in a given week. With the undulating periodization you can simply shift your focus to hypertrophy/endurance for your first two upper and lower body workouts. For the second two workouts of that week you can shift your focus back to strength and power.

This is a simple and effective model that you can employ for your training. This is especially effective if you have a busy lifestyle, but still desire to make those strength gains.

Undulating Periodization: The Takeaway

Structure your workouts to optimize your strength and muscle gains by optimizing your recovery. Therefore make sure to adopt the undulating periodization model.

What current model of training are you using?

What are your current training goals? 

Post up and share here below in the comments. 

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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