Monday, September 1, 2008

Breaking The Plateau Affect For Amazing Results!

September 2008 – Periodization For Results!

Stop The Insanity!

Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity was doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.  Most people fall into a set routine which they do over and over again for many consecutive months and even YEARS!  This is the number one reason people plateau, get bored, and eventually quit exercising.  So, how do you prevent this from happening?  The answer to this can be summed up in one word – Periodization!  

Periodization is a scientific approach to exercise where a variety of phases (programs) are designed and utilized to reach a specific goal(s).  Sports and conditioning coaches use this scientific approach because of its effectiveness to train and prepare their athletes for competition.  Since periodization has been proven to work for athletes, why not adopt this approach for yourself?  Not everyone is an athlete and so they might not need a highly scientific periodization plan.  However, the important thing is to utilize its key concept and that is the changing and cycling of programs.  My general guideline is that you must change your program approximately every 4 – 6 weeks.       

If you want results change your program every 4- 6 weeks!

“Pattern Overload”

Changing your workout routine every 4-6 weeks will not only get you results but it also greatly reduces the chances of inflammation, pain and injury.  When you perform a movement too frequently and repetitively you will end up with ‘Pattern Overload”.  Some common everyday examples of “Pattern Overload” are carpel tunnel syndrome from overuse of the computer mouse and tennis elbow from playing too much tennis.  Likewise, doing the same routine for long periods of time can actually begin to have a negative affect on the body.  This is even more so if the routine has imbalances (and they often do!).  Imbalances in the routine will pull your joints and spine into sub-optimal positions causing unnecessary strain and stress to the musculo-skeletal system.  This then leads to unwanted inflammation and PAIN!  And pain is far too common.  I get approached by exercise enthusiast almost everyday for pain related issues that would have never manifested if they were on a proper periodization plan.

If you wish to read more about “Pattern Overload” Paul Chek wrote a GREAT article about it which can be found at!

Shock Your Body

If you do a program for too long your body will quickly adapt and you will plateau (get minimal results).  Periodization plans are designed to constantly stimulate your body.  Exercises and exercise variables (repetitions, sets, tempos, circuits, super sets, rest periods etc.) are continuously manipulated, changed, and cycled.  I often surprise people that think they are in shape by simply changing and utilizing different exercise variables.  This is because I challenge them with exercise variables they are not used to.  For example, I will give higher repetitions to people who only do lower repetitions.  The bottom line is that there are thousands of exercises to choose from and thus there should be no reason for someone to be doing the same exercise routine for extended periods of time.

Stimulate your body with a constant change or cycling of exercises and exercise variables!

It’s Fun!

Sometimes the body isn’t the only thing that needs stimulation.  Boredom is a common culprit of the plateau affect and thus the mind also needs to be stimulated.   Learning new movements or new ways of doing known movements can be really fun and invigorating.  One example of this is doing a bicep curl while standing on a Bosu ball or kneeling on a Swiss ball.  Again the possibilities are endless.  Please keep in mind that the most important aspect of an exercise is that it is safe for you.  Safety should always precede fun. 

Stimulate your mind with safe and fun exercises!

Don’t Walk Empty Handed!

A common motto that I often repeat is - “if you fail to plan you plan to fail”.  I have worked at a large public fitness centre for over 8 years and it is extremely rare for me to come across anyone who has a program in hand.  It is even rarer when someone tells me that they are on a periodization plan.  A periodization plan is a series of programs that are designed to achieve a specific goal(s) i.e. hypertrophy, strength, speed, endurance, fat loss etc.  If the plan is effectively designed you will achieve the intended results provided you stick with it.  There is a lot of science behind periodization plans so you may want get some professional help when developing one.  If not you should still see better results by just changing your program every 4-6 weeks.

For the best results hire a professional to design a periodization plan for you!

By Sal Crispo
Vaughan Personal Trainer

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