If you have read bodybuilding/fitness
magazines at all in the past few years, then you have no doubt heard of
a theory called periodization. The theory is basically this; you need
to give your body periods of varied intensity as far as weight training
goes. I think this is a good theory. As we talked about in Splits and Frequency, and Overtraining,
your body needs recuperation from training. It has been said many
times, exercise is only a stimulus for muscular gains, the gains
themselves come from rest, recuperation, and Nutrition.
However, this usually refers to short term rest and recuperation, while
the Periodization theory is actually addressing more long term effects.
After a couple of months of high intensity training, your system could
use a bit of a break. Adaptation and muscular growth come at a price to
your physiological system. There is more involved in this theory,
however, than merely recuperation. Your muscles respond to different
intensities in different ways. If you always work your muscles in the
same intensity range, then you are limiting the response that you will
get. Heavy weight is definitely useful, (and necessary), but lighter
weight also has its benefits. But before you get the wrong idea, you
don't get to make it a cakewalk. That is, you still need to exercise
hard, just use higher reps, and lower weight for a while.
I think a great example of
periodization is a method I like to use. Do a full body workout for two
weeks, followed by a two way-split for roughly three weeks, and a four
way split for a month after that. Finish up with two weeks of circuit
training and I'm willing to bet that you will see great results.
|OKAY, WHAT ABOUT INTENSITY?
A lot of "experts" like to talk in
terms of "%of1RM". That is, Percentage of One Rep Max. A lot is made of
figuring out exactly what the maximum weight is that one can use to
perform one repetition of a given exercise, (1RM). Then, your working weight for that exercise is advised to be a certain percentage of that "magical" 1RM, (usually about 70%-80%). To heck with all that. I
could be defined as Work/Time, or a specific amount of work, performed
in a specific amount of time. For all of us "real" people, however, it
will suffice simply to equate intensity with amount of weight lifted. I
believe that performing in the proper range of repetitions, as
described in Sets, Reps and Weight, is the best gauge of intensity.