Periodization Explained


You want more results in your training program?

Meet your new best friend – periodization.

Periodization is the most important ingredient to a solid, progressive weight loss or muscle building program.

If you’ve followed any of my free online training programs, you’ll know that they all use this key structure. It’s one of the reasons thousands of men and women around the world have been able to transform their bodies with my routines.

So today I am going to walk you through some of the most productive forms of periodization and teach you which style of training they are best coupled with.

You ready to break a mental sweat?

what is periodization

What Is Periodization?

Periodization is the term used to describe the structuring of a weight training program over the course of a few weeks or months.

But in truth, periodization is one of those words which sounds more complex than it is.

At first glance, it’s enough to make most gym goers think “that’s too complicated for me” and they scare themselves away from it.

That needn’t be the case.

Allow me to explain.


The 3 Groups Of Trainees

There are typically 3 groups of trainees at most gyms.

I’ll explain more on each one below, but they are as follows:

  • those who do the same thing every time
  • those who do random things every time
  • those who follow a periodized workout routine

Have you ever known one of those people who does the same thing every time they hit the gym?

I have.

But even though results stopped long ago, they still battle on for years without changing things up to break the plateau.

These folks often beat themselves up and think they’re doing something wrong.

Now, have you ever known a person who does something completely different in every session?

Variety is the spice of life.

They don’t care how many sets or reps, they’re just gonna go until they can’t go no more.

This is good because the body can’t adapt, therefore they’ll see better results.

But again, annoyingly, results stagnate two-to-three months in.

This can be even more frustrating because you’re taking your body to the limit in every single training session. You’re not merely “going through the motions”, but you still can’t shift that stubborn layer of fat, right?

It can get into your head, making you wonder:

“I can’t physically work any harder, what the hell do I have to do here?”

So while this style is infinitely better than the first approach, what if I could show you a way which was superior to both methods?

See, alongside these two groups of trainees at your local gym there’s also a 3rd group.



These can be categorized as “those infuriating individuals who seem to be able to progress from one goal to another, smashing their way through plateaus and never seeming to stall.”

Yeah. Those people.

These guys and girls are the individuals who typically follow a periodized training program.

And I’m going to show you how to become one of them.

A periodized routine is a workout plan that is structured to move between several different phases before you reach the end goal.

Rather than doing the same old thing every time, and rather than making it up as you go along, you’ll have designated phases for high reps, strength training, hypertrophy work, and so on.

Periodization is the art of learning how to subject your body to one style of training for just long enough to take all the rewards it offers, then get out of there before any adaptations occur.

This keeps fresh results coming through variety, and also allows you to stick with one form of training long enough to reap the full rewards from it – a classic mistake of the group who follow randomized routines.

You’ll still be training hard.

You’ll still be going to muscle failure.

But you’ll be doing it with a purpose.

Think of it as a method to the madness.

what is periodization

Different Types Of Periodization

There are many different forms of periodization which can be used.

But if you follow my training programs, you’ll know that I typically use one of the following forms:

  • linear periodization
  • reverse linear peridization
  • pendulum periodization
  • undulating periodization

Over the years, I have found these four styles of periodization to return the most “bang for your buck” in terms of boosting strength, fat loss and lean muscle growth.

Now we’ll take a look at each of them in finer detail.


1. Classic Linear Periodization

A classic linear approach is the most commonly used style of periodization.

With this training principle, each phase of a training program sees a change in the rep range being used.

With classic linear periodization these changes appear in a straightforward manner which is commonly found in bodybuilding routines and sometimes referred to as “pyramidding”.

Typically, each phase lasts 1 or 2 weeks, although this can be as long or as short as you need it to be.

As your reps get lower, your weight gets heavier and, by the end of a full program, the goal is to be strong as hell.

Apply this tip: classic linear periodization is best suited to programs designed to increase strength.

  • Linear periodization demonstration

Here’s how to set up a workout routine using the linear periodization method.

  • week 1: 8-12 reps
  • week 2: 4-6 reps
  • week 3: 3-5 reps
  • week 4: 1-3 reps

My Strength In Numbers training plan uses classic linear periodization. You can find this inside the website here.

reverse linear periodization

2. Reverse Linear Periodization

Like the name suggests, this method is the exact opposite of linear periodization.

That means instead of your rep range spiraling down, it goes up.

This method works nicely with higher rep training, making it useful if your training goal is to increase muscular endurance.

Apply this tip: reverse linear periodization is best suited to programs designed for fat loss and muscular endurance.

Here’s how to set up a workout routine using the reverse linear periodization method.

  • week 1: 4-6 reps
  • week 2: 8-12 reps
  • week 3: 12-15 reps
  • week 4: 20-30 reps

My Dropset City training plan uses reverse linear periodization. You can find this inside the website here.

pendulum periodization

3. Pendulum Periodization

Pendulum periodization is a combination of the linear and reverse linear periodization methods shown above.

It’s best suited to longer training programs.

We would work through all phases of the classic linear method and then immediately switch to all phases of the reverse linear method.

This is great if you want a program that lasts a few months or even a full year, as it will allow you to take advantage of the benefits to both training styles.

Apply this tip: pendulum periodization is best suited to longer programs designed for both strength and endurance.

Here’s how to set up a workout routine using the pendulum periodization method.

  • week 1: 8-12 reps
  • week 2: 4-6 reps
  • week 3: 3-5 reps
  • week 4: 1-3 reps
  • week 5: 4-6 reps
  • week 6: 8-12 reps
  • week 7: 12-15 reps
  • week 8: 20-30 reps

My Make Her Sweat training plan uses pendulum periodization. You can find this inside the website here.

undulating periodization

4. Undulating Periodization

Undulating periodization – or ‘muscle confusion’ as it’s also known – works well with plans designed to shock the body to new results.

It’s perfectly suited to those who like to follow randomized training, as it allows you to move in and out of high rep and low rep weeks rather than progressing steadily in one direction.

And it’s very, very productive, too.

And although each phase of a program using this method of periodization would typically last a couple of weeks just like the other styles of periodization, the undulating method allows for much more creative freedom.

Indeed, it still works well when you switch between rep ranges in a very frequent manner, such as daily.

This is known as daily undulating periodization – DUP for short – and it’s one of my favourite ways to train.

This makes undulating periodization the ideal choice for those who consider variety the most important factor in sticking to a training routine.

Apply this tip: undulating periodization can be applied to plans for strength or endurance, it’s main benefit is that it promotes frequent variety.

Here’s how to set up a workout routine using the undulating periodization method.

  • week 1: 6-8 reps
  • week 2: 12-15 reps
  • week 3: 9-11 reps
  • week 4: 20-30 reps

My HGV and Beach Bum training plans use undulating periodization. You can find them inside the website here.


And there you have it.

When it comes to unlocking continuous results in the gym, periodization is your “secret weapon”. And hardly anybody else is using it.

Think of periodization as variety with a purpose. Structured mayhem. Controlled chaos.

If you have enjoyed today’s post on how to use periodization in your training routine, give it a share.

You’ll probably also like reading my guide to creatine.

If you need a new workout routine, click here to join the 1000’s of men and women around the world using my free workout plans inside the website.

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