Are you working out hard and not making progress?
Do you feel like you’re in maintenance mode with your workouts?
Did you get better results when you first started exercising than you do now?
Do not despair! Today, I’ll help you use the principle of periodization to jumpstart your results again!
To get unstuck, we’ll cover 4 action steps to designing personal training programs that really work:
- Understand how the principle of diminishing returns kills your progress after 12-weeks
- Plan an effective training program that delivers results beyond the “newbie” phase
- Use the principle of periodization to get jaw-dropping results at 12, 24, 48 weeks and beyond
- Cycle the three critical strength systems into a complete workout program
Diminishing Returns From My Workouts
This morning, while putting the final touches on the enduring strength program starting soon at ForeverStrong, I had a flashback to a time when I stopped getting serious results from my workouts.
When I first learned how to properly exercise with kettlebells, I noticed amazing results within a very short period of time. Even though I had already been a personal trainer for several years, I could see and feel my body tightening, toning and getting stronger.
Kettlebell swings, snatches and getups were just a few of the new “kettlebell” exercises that I practiced daily. They were completely different from traditional weight lifting moves and people were noticing my transformation. My thighs got noticeably thinner and my arms, shoulders and glutes became more defined and muscular than ever before. I also had a newfound strength and power.
Then gradually, I noticed that my progress slowed down. I had passed the newbie phase. Although I did not regress, become weaker or gain body fat, I was no longer making noticeable progress. It was frustrating!
In fact, everyone who has a healthy routine of exercise will eventually start to see diminishing returns from their workouts.
There is nothing wrong with you or what you are doing. The diminishing returns principle applies to exercise.
What’s the diminishing returns principle?
When someone unfit begins a training regime, fitness levels improve rapidly but, as they become fitter, the returns diminish. That is, as you become fitter, the amount of improvement is less as you approach your genetic limits. As your fitness levels increase, more work or training is needed to make the same improvements.
When you first start training, improvements in fitness are large and happen quickly. However, the closer you get to your maximum fitness level, the harder you must work to achieve smaller increases in your fitness levels. This same principle applies when trying to lose body fat.*
The generally accepted principle among exercise science researchers is that most people will get the best results from an exercise program in the first 12-weeks. After that, the physiological adaptations to exercise (A.K.A results) start to slow down, or diminish.
It happened to me. It will happen to you. Unless, you periodize the focus of your programs. Once I applied the 8-week training cycle strategy to my workouts, I became leaner, stronger and more sculpted again.
How to use the principle of periodization to get continuous jaw-dropping results
The great news is, even if you’ve hit a plateau, you can use the exercise science principle of periodization to create workout programs that dedicate “cycles” of time with a specific focus area. This will minimize the frustrating effects of the diminishing returns principle. These cycles can be as short as 6-weeks or as long as 12-weeks.
If you perform training cycles less than 6-weeks and you’ll short-change your potential. Conversely, if you train the same program more than 12-weeks, the diminishing returns principle will severely impede your efforts and you’ll feel like you are spinning your wheels.
At ForeverStrong we have developed a training method with very specific 8-week training cycles for each of our clients. Each program has a targeted performance and physique focus. Cycling allows the body to make rapid improvements in the focus area while maintaining the progress made in prior cycles. At ForeverStrong, we call this Program Cycling.
How to cycle the three critical strength systems into a complete workout program
Each of our 8-week program cycles focus on one critical system of strength and physique.
The Critical Systems of Strength:
Foundational Strength – Becoming Strong and Tight
Functional Strength – Becoming Athletic and Toned
Enduring Strength – Gaining Stamina and Muscle Definition
Each cycle is designed as the perfect foundation for the next cycle. Together, they work as a complete system for total body transformation.
Three cycles, each lasting eight weeks, means that you will return your focus to Foundational, Functional, or Enduring strength every 24 weeks.
This is your perfect strategy to get maximum results in one focus area of fitness without losing the improvements from the two prior cycles.
During an 8-week program cycle, you get progressive results in the special focus area without a decrease in the strength, stamina or function that you gained during the prior cycle! In 24-weeks, you’ll pick up where we left off – and keep improving!
It’s well known among exercise physiologists that strength training is the key to change your body composition by creating lean metabolically active muscle mass. An effective strength training program makes you stronger. The stronger you are, the better you can use your strength to work harder during your workouts to burn more calories and improve all areas of fitness. Since you can’t effectively train all of your strength systems at the same time, planning 8-week cycles to focus on just one strength system at a time has proven to be the most effective way to get continuous and predictable results. It’s a simple yet amazing solution to a frustrating problem. I get excited talking about it!
Putting it all together…
To summarize, if you want serious results beyond the first 12-weeks, make sure you plan your workouts using targeted training cycles. Each cycle should focus on rapid strength improvements in one of the three critical systems of strength: Foundational, Functional and Enduring strength. The movements you select for each phase, the number of sets, and the amount of rest between sets is determined based on your specific goal for that cycle. These concepts are part of the exercise science principle of periodization. Apply the principle of periodized training cycles to your workout program to ensure you keep getting results at 24-weeks, 48-weeks and beyond. Yay!
At ForeverStrong, our next 8-week program cycle starts May 29th. As I write this, we are in the sixth week of our functional training cycle. Up next: our enduring strength cycle. The goal of that 8-week program is: Attain Super Stamina. I’ve helped hundreds of men and women in Marriottsville, Turf Valley, Waverly Woods, Woodmark, West Friendship, Eldersburg, Sykesville, Woodstock, Cooksville, Ellicott City, Mt. Hebron, Clarksville, Fulton, Laurel, Burtonsville, Highland, Silver Spring, Columbia, Ellicott City, Glen Elg, and the surrounding areas get amazing results for over 10 years using our personalized method. I’d love to help you attain super stamina in 12-weeks. Feel free to give me a call at 301-452-5547 to learn more. Let’s find out if ForeverStrong program cycling can help you get unstuck with your fitness goals.
~by Kelly Scott, Owner of ForeverStrong and Creator of the ForeverStrong Personalized Fitness System
Training principles to improve athletic performance. Frank Stuart. ACPE.edu 2018