July 31st, 2007 by Paul Johnson

You been lifting weights hardcore and following a strict diet, yet you haven't gained a single pound of muscle in weeks. What you need to solve this is a periodization training routine!

What is Periodization?

Leo Matveyev, a russian sports scientist developed a workout system called the Periodization Method (also known as Cycling Method). The basic idea of the Periodization method, is to put your year long workouts into phases. Each phase will work the body differently for a different goal. For example, the first phase will be hypertrophy (muscle growth), the next phase will focus on strength, followed by power, then a recuperative(light) phase.

What is the purpose of periodization?

The principle idea for periodization is, S.A.I.D. Specific Adaption to Imposed Demand. Behind the S.A.I.D theory, if you want to get bigger muscles, then you lift heavier weights. Over time however, the body will start to predict and adapt to your increased workload. Once it starts to adapt, it will stop changing even after you increase the weights. You will stop gaining muscle and strength in what is commonly known as a plateau.

By using the principles behind periodization, you help keep one step ahead of your body from "guessing". Instead of getting into a long term plateau, every phase will be followed by a short burst of growth and then a leveling off. Long term periodization will lead to better muscle and strength gains. Periodization will also prevent overtraining. Bodybuilders don't need to follow the exact workouts and phases recommended by Matveyev, what is important is following the principles behind it.

For further reading you should read another article I wrote HIT compared to periodization. This will hopefully help answer the long debate, on whether periodization is proven to be the best workout routine system for long term muscle gains. For a general idea of how to setup periodization workouts year around, read a previous article of mine periodization workouts

  1. Great Bodies on August 1st, 2007

    Periodization helped me and some of my friends get over a plateau we reached. We combined this with more intensive martial arts training instead of only focusing on bodybuilding and once we found the right amount of what to do with each we started gaining more muscle and eventually got even faster thanks to this combination. Maybe it will work for some of you guys. A good trainer can always tell you how to combine periodization with cardio and more. Don’t forget to use supplements as well.

  2. Simon White on February 6th, 2008

    I’m finding that periodization is really helping me get results (increase lean muscle mass) after I’ve been at a plateau for ages. It’s also stopping me from getting bored at the gym as the workouts keep changing.

  3. serjeo on December 16th, 2008

    thanks for this article and many htanks to the ppl who replied and added thier own true stories.

  4. admin on December 26th, 2008

    Im still trying to figure out if you should wait till you plateau to change your workout parameters or if you should do it preemtipvely before you plateau to stay one step ahead. Maybe it doesn’t matter in the long run, just as long as you don’t always do the same workout forever.