The Best Design For Lifting Period

"Periodization" means something very simple: planned changes in training programs in order to get steady improvements. Key words: planned changes, steady improvements.

The idea of periodized workout programs started with athletic training, and it followed a pretty simple and logical model based on three stages: pre-season, in-season, off-season.

Let's say you're a college basketball player. Your season is November to March, more or less. Let's say your pre-season workouts start in June. From June through October, you'll steadily increase the intensity of your workouts, both in the weight room and on the basketball court. You'll also focus more of your effort on improving your skill, since that's most crucial to success.

But at the same time, you'll steadily decrease the volume of your workouts. In other words, you'll start off doing a lot of exercise, but at a low intensity and requiring little skill. Then, as you crank up the intensity and the focus on high-level, sport-specific skills, you'll steadily lower the volume. You're working harder, so your body can't do as much total work without breaking down.

When you start your season, you'll continue along the same paths—higher intensity, lower volume—until you get to the major tournaments. At that point, you drop the intensity of your training and the focus on skills in practice, because performance in competition is all that matters now. You don't want to leave anything in the weight room that you can use on the court.

The end of your season brings an end to serious training. The off-season is for recovery, mental as well as physical. You can and should still play basketball. You can and should still work in the weight room. But you do those things at your own speed, letting your body tell you what it can and can't do.

Two months later, you go into your pre-season workouts and start the next peri-odization cycle.

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