Periodization for Bodybuilding (With Examples)

alright hey everyone so in this video I'm going to be discussing periodization for bodybuilding so essentially how it is we should go about interpreting the research on periodization and then applying that to our bodybuilding focused training and programming so I want to kick things off just with a quick definition so I will say that there doesn't really seem to be any universally recognized or accepted definition of periodization but it seems to me that most of the experts in the field are just sort of construing it really broadly to mean how it is you plan your training or organize your training over time basically this turn period ization kind of originated in the 1950s with a guy named Leo matveyev he was a Russian physiologist and he sort of coined the term to mean what we would today refer to as linear periodization so essentially increasing intensity and decreasing volume over time and since then since the original model was proposed there been a whole lot of studies done on periodization either been a bunch of different spins put on the original model and it's just gotten a whole lot more popular so I think the first question that we need to ask ourselves is is periodization actually important does it actually work is the question even worth talking about and I think that the answer to this question is yes I believe that the majority of the studies that have looked at periodization have shown a positive effect of paradise in your programming on strength and hypertrophy just as one example of this there was a review article that looked at 15 different studies and what it found was that 13 out of the 15 studies showed a positive effect of paralyzing training and out of the two studies that didn't show any effect of period Eisinger training they were both short in duration and on subjects without much training experience and as we know subjects who are kind of new to training can really respond to anything and so any sort of non ridiculous routine is probably going to yield results for them despite all this evidence I think we should still be slow to conclude or shouldn't be so quick to conclude that it is periodization per se that's doing the work here it seems plausible that there could just be some other factor that happens to go alongside with periodization that's actually the significant factor here in just in support of this there was a review paper written in 2012 by John Kiley where he stated that due to complicating logistical constraints experimental designs have compared interventions regularly varying training parameters with interventions with minimal or no variation accordingly what these studies have demonstrated is that variation is a critical aspect of effective training not that periodization methodologies are an optimal means of providing variation and so then he goes on to sort of say that as a literature stands right now periodization isn't really all that evidence-based all that we can really draw from this research is that having variety in your training is really important now I think it's important to note here that if you vary your training too frequently you're just changing things up all the time or if you change it excessively so you go from down here to up here suddenly then I think that your sort of training targets can be too varied and then your adaptive abilities or your ability to adapt to the training can be spread too thin and so as a result you know your gains can be compromised so variation is important but you have to keep it within the context of varying things methodically and in a controlled way and not just sporadically and guys in a discussion that follows I think it's going to be important to keep in mind that none of these models will stand alone in isolation in the real world so I think that they tend to work together and they work best that way and if we're going to look at this through a sort of practical lens I think the best thing that we can do is sort of borrow ideas or the best ideas from each of these and then integrate them into sort of like an overarching programming perspective Oh like I just said linear periodization is when you increase the intensity and decrease the volume over time so as an example of this let's just say you're a bodybuilder and in his or her offseason and you're peaking for a powerlifting meet or you're not competing in powerlifting but you're just running a max strength blog so an example of what this might look like is say going in week one and you do three sets of six at 80% and then as the week's go by you will decrease the number of reps that you're doing and you will increase the percentage of your one rep max that you're putting on the bar and then this will just go all the way down until you have meet week or the week before meet week where you'll do a bunch of heavy singles pretty close to your one rep max and then in meet week you'll just taper or D load going into the meet I think another example of where this would be appropriate is say you're running a specific progression scheme in a low to moderate rep range so say six to eight reps essentially you'll start in week one doing a hundred pounds or say three sets of eight the next week you'll do one hundred and five pounds for three sets of seven and you just continue with that where the reps are decreasing so the overall volume is decreasing but the weight is increasing now of course this isn't a problem for a bodybuilder because at the end of the strength block you've gained a bunch of strength now so when you go back to the beginning and start the progression over again you'll be handling more weight and so on the big picture you actually end up handling more volume so now we'll move on to reverse linear periodization so as the name suggests sort of the inverse of linear periodization so it's when you increase the volume and decrease the intensity over time and I will note here that most studies that have compared linear periodization to reverse linear periodization have found linear periodization to be more effective but that isn't to say that reversal linear periodization doesn't have its place I think there are a few specific scenarios where reverse linear period would be appropriate the first example of this would be in a phase of training where your primary goal is developing muscular endurance or work capacity let's just say you're trying to increase your work capacity in the squad so you might want to kick it off in week one with three sets of four to six at an RPE of nine then in week two you're going to do three sets of six to eight at an RPE of nine week three you go in and do three sets of eight to ten at an RP of nine and then in week four three sets of ten to twelve at rp9 again so since we're using the RPE scale to prescribe the load as the rep range increases or in other words as the volume increases the load is automatically going to to decrease in the load might not actually have to decrease by that much because as you're going throughout the phase you're improving your ability to to handle more bond and so you might actually be able to move more weight in those higher references so I think that developing work capacity in this sort of sense does make sense for say like a powerlifter in its off season or even leading into a peak those new adaptations of muscular endurance and the ability to recover from all that volume can then be transmuted into max strength gains in the next block it just has another really quick example of this I think a pseudo reverse linear progression scheme like this one here can be effective I don't think strictly speaking it would be classified as a reverse linear just because the load or the intensity doesn't actually decrease it just stays the same but the volume would increase across the course of that a Meisel cycle and if you guys want to hear more about this progression scheme you can watch my video here on progression schemes all right so now I want to move on to undulating periodization and so essentially guys all that undulating means is just wavy so in the case of periodization what we're talking about here is that training variables like sets and reps and load will be wavy over time so they'll go up and down and so on so in the case of daily undulating para dyes a ssin these variables will go up and down within the training week so they'll they are very on a daily time scale whereas in weekly undulating periodization these very these variables will go up and down on a scale of weeks but within the training week itself they won't be changing and I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time digging into the research on this I'll just suffice it to say that the majority of studies do find that an undulating approach tends to lead to superior strength gains than say a linear approach but this isn't always the case there is the occasional study that will show undulating periodization not to be superior to a linear approach but in any case I think that the majority view is that undulating reps or sets within the training week or at least from week to week is a good idea and I think that this makes sense from a physiological perspective but it also makes a lot of sense from a psychological perspective given that we tend to like some variety and freshness to our training just as an example of this let's say that you're doing squats and you do 3 sets of 8 on Monday then you have 3 sets of 8 again on Thursday I feel as though most people would get more bored with that set and rep scheme than say 3 sets of 10 on Monday and then 4 sets of 6 on Thursday I think that we tend to have issue 8 to doing the same thing again and again and so undulating reps or sex or loads within the training week is a good idea to add variety to training okay so let's move on to an example of daily undulating periodization let's say that we have really crappy biceps they're a lagging body part for us and so we're going to be hitting them three times a week go in on day one of week one and do three sets of four to six day two of week one we might do three sets of fifteen to twenty and day three we might do three sets of eight to twelve so you have three different rep ranges here they're wavy so they undulate throughout the week and that's really all that daily undulating periodization means and then in week two you would have the same set up and so and then in week 3 you would have again the same thing but to ensure that you're progressing from week to week what you would do is focus on progressive overload so ensure that you're adding some weight to the bar from week 1 to B 2 B 2 to B 3 while staying within that rep range so that would still classify as daily undulating periodization but there would be sort of like a linear progression in terms of incrementally adding weight to the bar as the week's go by alright so now I want to move on to conjugate periodization so the conjugate method I think is based on two central premises so the first is that different traits are developed simultaneously or concurrently so just as an example of this you might be developing both hypertrophy and max strength within the same week so in this sense it's very similar to the daily undulating approach day one you would go in and do max effort work say on the bench press and then on day 2 you would go in and do a dynamic effort work or speed work with say some bands and chains or what-have-you and the second premise is that exercise variation is important and I think that this is it's this idea that we can borrow the most from the conjugate approach as body builders so just as one example of empirical support for this there was a study done by Fonseca at AU in 2014 where they took two groups and they gave one group only squads so their workout program was just all squads and the other group they gave squats and deadlifts and lunges and I think leg press so they had a lot of variation in terms of exercises this group had no variation and what they found at the end of the study was that the group that only did squats didn't see hypertrophy in all of the heads of the quads only in a couple of the heads whereas the group that varied their exercises they saw hypertrophy in all four heads of the quads so I think that this study sort of shows us that if we want symmetrical and proportional development as bodybuilders it's really important to vary our exercises and not get caught up in a minimalistic approach where we just do say one exercise or a handful of exercises and that's it but I think that out of all of the paradise Asian models that we've discussed this is the one that we can learn the most from as advanced trainees so Block periodization is really based around this idea of training residuals which states that after you stop training a given ability it will tend to stick around for a nice while after you stop training it so the main idea with block periodization was that you would take one block of training say I don't know a month or two and focus on developing a given ability so let's just say muscular endurance then in the next block you would put the muscular endurance stuff at maintenance so you wouldn't train that so much and instead you would start to focus on a different ability so say max strength development and because of training residuals you can sort of keep the adaptations that you built in the first block into the second block provided that there's enough work in there to at least allow for the maintenance of it and I think that as advanced body builders this is an important concept for us because it becomes increasingly difficult to improve given body parts after training for for a certain period of time so as an example of this let's just say that you're an advanced level bodybuilder who has a lagging chest what you may want to do using a block periodized approach is take a four to six week block and really focus on blasting your pecs with a high-frequency house three to four times a week quite a lot of volume within reason and a lot of exercise variation and then in the follow-up walk you might want to move on to developing say another body part so you would put the chest work at maintenance say to two times a week with a reduction in volume to say two-thirds or half of what you were doing in the previous vlog and now focus on say the legs or something else and then in the follow-up block after that what you might want to do is go back to hitting your chest again at a very high frequency and volume and I believe that you can continue to make progress even as an advanced athlete when period izing your training in this way where you have blocks of training with a specific focus on developing a specific body part or a given adaptation so guys in conclusion I just want to emphasize that in the real world from a practical programming perspective I don't think any of these models will stand alone in isolation and to build I think the best program for you you're going to have to incorporate different aspects of probably each of these models and make sure that you keep progressive overload at the forefront of any of any training program to ensure that you are progressing and getting better and getting stronger over time so guys I just want to say thank you for watching this video I hope that you guys learned something or took at least something away from it that's going to help you and your training one of the ways that you can support me and motivate me to keep making this these sorts of videos would be simply by sharing the video whatever you have a voice if you don't want to share the video but you'd still like to support the channel one of the ways you can do that is just by giving me a thumbs up down below I was also wondering if any of you guys would be interested in purchasing a standalone bodybuilding program from me it would be a probably six month period eyes plan and reasonably priced if that's something you guys might be interested in I just leave me a comment in the comments below if I do get any interest then it's a project that I'll move forward with so thank you guys once again so much for watching the video and I will see you guys in the next one


  1. Do these only work in mass phases or can they work in cutting phases

  2. Cauld in all my workouts use low and moderate or even light rep schemes?

  3. I just want to let you know THAT YOU ARE A FUCKING GOD

  4. Why does he look like a little kid

  5. What would you suggest the best periodization would be leading into a show? 16 weeks out?

  6. 3yrs later- crazy neck gains

  7. Hi Jeff. There you mentioned an `off week`. So my question is, do I still need to take the recommended amount of protein in an off week (deload week) as well ? I am 75kg (165pound ) and I take around 150g of protein everyday as suggested. Is it ok if I dont take protein powder , or take less amount of protein in my off weeks? thanks a lot

  8. Very interested in checking out your programs. I know this video was posted about 3 years ago… just saying. Good work man.

  9. Can you make a video regarding reverse pyramid training,pyramid training, double pyramid training,straight sets, wave loading etc

  10. Linear progression… It confounds me. There must be upper limits to "just keep upping the weight." I mean how much are you gonna end up curling for example? You think you'll just keep upping the weight til you're curling 225?

    So it confounds me how this advice is so often given, but doesn't seem practical after a point. I imagine I'm close to max strength on my bicep curls.

  11. This video inspires me to continue making sure I give me neck attention as someone who just recently discovered your videos and had only seen content from the past 6 months or so

  12. 😮 Jeff before neck training…bruh

  13. I've always used periodization in my training even many years before I even found out it was a thing or heard of the term. I always just called it 'two steps forward one step back and repeat' lol

  14. rather an old video (yep, 2 years is old in this world) but really interesting. Thanks for sharing

  15. so do I periodize every single workout or just the main compound movements

  16. YOUR CONTENT STILL ROCKS 2 years later

  17. How should a beginner (not exactly a novice) workout for getting better gains?
    How should I periodize my workouts?

  18. This was super informative, holy crap! Good stuff.

  19. Jeff, any chance you could do one for older people …in their 50s? Thx

  20. For DUP or WUP, do all the exercises have to be the same?

  21. Well done sir! Amazing video thanks

  22. Gotta love the clueless bros with in the comments that still follow bodypart split routines

  23. I can't even wrap my head around what type of training schedule you'd have with block periodization. To focus on one muscle group mainly and also continue your normal lifting schedule. And to train chest 4 times a week? Man I've been training for almost 19 years.. I can't see myself training the same body part 4 times a week. I'd have to lower the volume or intensity, something has to give to try and pump out 4 days of chest or any other body part for that matter in 1 week (Mon, Wed, Fri, and Sun)

  24. I have a strength and power lifting periodized plan I input into excel where adding your new max will populate the weeks. I don't have a hypertrophy model, though, and I would really like something like that. I'm finding that developing my own isn't working so well.

  25. I'm so wavey I'm so wavey all these bitches wanna have my baby

  26. i think RPE9 is too heavy for a meet prep

  27. what type of periodization would a 5×5 fall into? You are basically not changing the set number or the reps… you are just trying to progress in weight or reps compared to last time. It seems to me like there is no periodization at all.

  28. Jeff’s no neck days

  29. What do you preefer ?? What is your favorite Periodization ?? Do you mean Stright Reps oder Rep Range ( example 10-12) with Rpe intensitiy is better ?

  30. you, athlene-x and vitruvian fitness are probably the only bodybuilders that provide informative content that is immediately applicable to ones training program. Thanks Jeff, i know it's an old video but still hope you know that we appreciate to awesome work you're putting out!

  31. Could somebody clear this up for me? Weekly undulating periodization means you'd change your sets and rep ranges week to week, isn't that the same as linear periodization?

  32. Isnt this progressive overload?


  34. Body building program a may purchase. It depends on the specificity with my rugby. I'm not pedantic about it but I want to be strong yet have endurance. Muscle hypertrophy isn't bad but it shouldn't be a single goal of mine.

  35. I'm a relative newbie starting linear periodization

  36. Love you videos mate

  37. so informative! and giving examples are always a plus!

  38. I could watch these videos all day lol

  39. Really good video. Keep up the good work!

  40. Hey Jeff a question regarding DUP, with your example is there room for exercise variation throughout the week for the different rep & set schemes?

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