The periodisation of weight training involves dividing the year into one or more macrocycles, in which intermediate cycles of specialization will be scheduled, focusing on one or more goals such as strength, hypertrophy or quality. We need to get from point A to point B, and to do this we have to structure the program so that each phase establishes the premises for the next, moving gradually on to the next quality we want to develop, without losing the adaptations acquired with the previous one. A gradual shift is crucial, otherwise we would be adding mass using last year’s weights, or doing strength training while thin as a rake, and so on year after year.
THE TWO MAIN TYPES OF PERIODISATION
Linear Periodisation: Starting initially with high volume, we progressively increase the intensity. In this case, the training progresses through specific mesocycles or programmed phases in which the volume progressively decreases while the intensity simultaneously increases. If we choose instead to progress with the emphasis on volume, we'll just need to design an inverse path.
Undulating Periodisation: Continually varying frequency, volume and intensity in short periods of time (from week to week or training session to training session).
HOW TO PROGRAM A MACROCYCLE
The macrocycle should be programmed according to the objective and/or the competition. The preparation will initially be general, and become more and more specific as we advance towards our goal. Although some authors argue that some seasons of the year are more favourable than others for training a specific muscle quality, in practical terms it makes little difference and what really matters is the objective and the day of the competition (or the event of interest). So, whether our goal is a powerlifting competition or simply to look good in a bathing suit, the entire macrocycle should be programmed in relation to that end goal.
THERE IS NO STRENGTH WITHOUT HYPERTROPHY AND NO HYPERTROPHY WITHOUT STRENGTH
Although most authors may not agree, the reason for this statement is that, beyond a given limit, to support certain loads we will need a stable loadbearing structure (and therefore hypertrophy), and to build a significant muscle mass we cannot avoid using increasingly heavy loads (physiology is clear on this). According to my vision of Natural Bodybuilding, for various reasons also expressed in our book about muscle building, Extreme Bulk, strength training should be performed constantly throughout the year. What should gradually vary is its predominance, or lack of it, during the training mesocycle, according to the objective and the period of the year.
HIGH REPETITIONS FOR MUSCLE DEFINITION AND LOW REPETITIONS FOR BUILDING MASS?
Nothing could be more wrong! Maintaining high levels of strength in the muscle definition stage is as important as achieving it while building mass. The ultimate purpose of the biological machine is survival, and the body is unlikely to get rid of anything that it finds useful. Someone might argue that lactate training results in a lowering of the PH and a release of GH, which induces lipolysis. True, but during adulthood endogenous (and sometimes even exogenous) GH does not guarantee a significant and massive fat loss. Therefore the most important thing is still the diet, not the type of training!
AN EXAMPLE OF LINEAR MACROCYCLE:
1 Month: Muscle reconditioning
1 Month: Hypertrophy and pre-strength
2 Months: Strength and power
1 Month: Hybrid training
2 Months: Hypertrophy (with caloric surplus for gaining mass and caloric deficit for muscle definition).
Mattia Lorenzini - Personal trainer, sports nutrition expert and creator of the educational project CorporeSano - Food & Training System