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The Best Way To Make Progress When Training

Periodization, programming, planning, progressions. All these P words are thrown around in the world of fitness and rehab, and are undoubtedly intertwined but what do they all mean? At Made 2 Move, our physical therapists believe fitness and training doesn’t have to be complex, so we are here to break down the difference in words like periodization, programming, progress, etc.

Very simply put, periodization refers to the use of strategic programming or planning to generate a desired progression (goal). Periodization is the process of training to reach a long term goal. For example, olympians, college athletes, and professional athletes all follow a periodized plan to achieve the highest level of athleticism they can, and doing this allows them to peak for their season or biggest competition.

Terms like cycles and blocks are terms that refer to the breakdown of a periodized plan. For example, a college baseball may havet 4 week cycles in the weightroom that progress and vary based on where they are in the season. Progression refers to the actual stimuli that are varied each week (intensity, volume, frequency of sessions) or the individual improvement seen after following a long term periodized training plan.

Programming vs. periodization...what is the difference? Periodization can get very complex with the different types of periodization and time frames used for each, but the underlying concepts are very simple. In the words of Dr. Lorenz, physical therapist and licensed athletic trainer, “Periodization is an overall concept of training that deals with the division of the training process into specific phases. Programming is the manipulation of the variables within these phases (sets, repetitions, load) that are needed to bring about the specific adaptations desired within that particular period” (Lorenz and Morrison 2015).

So who could benefit from a periodized training plan? What are the benefits of following a periodized program?

Who could benefit from a periodized training program?

Periodization is a tried and tested method used to help athletes of any age peak for their sports seasons, weightlifters and powerlifters to peak for their meets, and marathon runners to peak for their races. Made 2 Move Strength Club utilizes periodization to strategically write out plans for all of the athletes in the strength club! But periodization can also be useful for those not attempting to reach peak performance. Below are instances in which a periodized training program would be valuable tool:

  • During rehabilitation from injury

  • Trying to reach a specific goal

  • In those feeling constantly sore or fatigued

  • In those feeling burnt out, unmotivated, or plateaued

Benefits of Periodization:

  • Gives you something to work towards

  • Can help you define or expand upon your goals

    • You might go into your first periodized training plan working on one thing (increasing your squat 1 rep max) and find you need work in another area. The next cycle could focus on this weakness.

  • Periodization will force you to work on things you don’t want to.

    • If you don’t follow a program, you’ll naturally avoid the things you suck at. If someone else programs for you, they will include exercises you might be weaker in and you’ll then get stronger through these movements!

  • Better on your body and mindset + reduces risk of injury

    • Recovery is part of programming. Every periodized training program has fatigue management and recovery days built into the program, whereas if you just go to workout classes every day, you may not take the rest days your body needs. This required rest and recovery as part of your program allows your body time to heal, thus reducing the risk for injury. Plus, with a periodized workout plan, you know what to expect each day coming into the gym.

  • Individualized/ tailored to what you need

    • Whether you are trying to improve mobility, strength, endurance, or sport specificity there is a coach out there that can design a strategic and effective plan specifically for you.

  • Keeps you accountable/consistent

  • Customizable

    • Do you find it hard to find time to train 6 days a week with your work schedule? Your coach could develop a 3 day periodized training program that would work just as well. Since frequency of sessions will decrease, variables like intensity, session duration, training volume, and load may have to be increased. After all, the manipulation of stimuli is the name of the game with periodization.

Here at Made 2 Move, our therapists work closely with each patient to develop a rehab or training plan specific to individual injuries, training backgrounds, and goals. Are you coming back from injury and looking to optimize your recovery?Looking to start a program aligned specifically to your goals in the gym? Following a periodized training plan is one of the best ways to work back to your 100% and come back from injury even stronger and more resilient than before. Reach out to today to schedule your initial consultation.


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