One of the biggest mistakes people can make, which slows progress, is not sticking with a fitness program throughout it’s intended time frame. I call these people the “fitness program cheaters”. They’re usually the ones that start a program and then get bored or decide to switch to the “cool program of the month”.
As a certified fitness professional that trains people online, I often get frustrated with this. My advice to anyone being trained online or in person is…trust the process, stay committed, and stick to the master plan.
This program cheating phenomenon is one of the main reasons people never see the results they should. Depending on the quality of your designed program, it’s usually divided into specific periods that are meant to support, compliment, and build on each session. This is called the periodization of training.
Periodization of Training
Periodization of training is about breaking down your overall goals into smaller periods of training. Each period builds on the next period. So by completing period 1, it builds on preparing you to complete the training in period 2.
Example of a Periodized Approach to Building a 12 week Fitness Plan
Period 1 (Week 1-3): Strength – during this period the program may be structured to help you get stronger. You may also add muscle and lose some fat during this phase.
Period 2 (Week 4-6): Strength Endurance & Fat Loss – during this period the program may be structured on building muscle endurance and burning fat. Since you’ve already completed the strength period, you’ll be able to lift heavier weights which means greater fat burn and strength endurance.
Period 3 (Week 7-9): Muscle Gain - during this period the program may be structured to build muscle (hypertrophy). The strength building (from period 1) and the muscle endurance (from period 2) will help you lift heavier weights for more reps which will create more muscle.
Period 4 (Week 10-12): Overall Fitness - during this period the program may be structured to train each of the previous periods one day per week. Thus you’ll continue to increase strength, burn fat, and build more muscle because your body has been trained to complete each period.
That’s periodization. Every period builds on another. Thus the whole (overall plan) is greater than it’s individual parts (periods).
Understanding periodization is key for trainers to provide their clients with programs that produce results. If you don’t use a trainer, it’s also key for you to understand periodization as you’re ultimately building your own plans.
No matter how good a program is, if your body isn’t properly trained/prepared to get the most out of it, you won’t see the results you deserve.
So avoid cheating on your fitness program and learn to follow the periodized approach to training to ensure you get optimal results.
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