Personalized recommendations, tried-and-true methods, and perseverance converge at this holy trinity of phenomenal outcomes. The likelihood of a significant physical transformation diminishes without those elements.
But another factor is necessary, and adaptation needs to be more frequently understood and applied correctly.
A byproduct of adaptation is fat loss and muscle gain, but too much adaptation prevents progress. Finding the sweet spot between pushing yourself and exhausting yourself is the goal in the middle of gaining strength and stopping.
A periodization is a tool used by the best trainers to find that sweet spot by strategically planning out a client's exercise schedule throughout many different periods (such as daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly). GAS provides instructors with vital data: Stress responses are described in terms of the "alarm," "resistance," and "exhaustion" phases. Your workouts, to be most effective, should both shock your body (the alarm stage) and give it time to adapt and grow more robust (the resistance stage), all without overtraining (exhaustion).
Let's look at the linear and undulating periodization models and how they're put together so that you can figure out which one might be the best for helping you achieve your goals.
Linear Periodization: Simple to Follow, Tried, and True
Nick Tumminello, C.P.T., owner of Performance University in Fort Lauderdale, explains that linear progressions, the original periodization, were developed to get elite athletes ready for competition. Linear plans are those in which the number of sets and reps remains relatively constant while the trainer changes the intensity or load. For the bench press, a trainer might recommend three sets of 10 reps once a week for a couple of months, increasing the weight by 5 pounds at a time.
In addition, Tumminello says, a trainer may have a client perform the same number of bench press reps three times per week, with a heavy load on the first day, a medium load on the second day, and a light load on the third day.
Undulating Periodization: Keeping the Body Guessing
Undulating schemes are an offshoot of linear periodization models because, according to Tumminello, the latter do not include enough variations (or "undulations") in workload to spur optimal adaptations.
So, throughout the microcycle, they change the weight and sets and reps, typically daily. You could alternate between strength training, hypertrophy (muscle-building), and athletic endurance-based training over a week.
The Best Periodization Model for You
I am seeing results that can be incredibly encouraging to someone relatively new to training (less than two years of regular workouts). It calls for a linear strategy, which could be the most suitable for you.
A linear training model is the easiest to stick to if you don't have regular meetings with a trainer or some other form of accountability. Alternately, undulating models provide a more engaging experience if you get bored with your workouts.