Does your client need Periodised Training?
Is it time to try something new with your clients? Keep your clients engaged, seeing consistent progress, with Periodisation Training.
Whether they’re doing full body workouts, split workouts, or circuit training – after a while the same training approach can not only be boring for your clients but can also lead to stagnated results.
What is Periodisation Training?
Periodisation training is a long term approach to training with different periods of training cycles put in place for different reasons. Generally, there is an overarching goal to the training programme that encompasses why you’re training in a Periodised form, then a plan is constructed around this goal.
This overarching plan is called a Macrocycle and generally can last for 1-2 years. The 1-2 years is then broken down into phases called Mesocycles which generally last for 3-4 weeks.
Who typically uses Periodised training?
This form of training is typically used by athletes with a bigger goal in mind. Maybe “Mr. Muscle” has a bodybuilding show in December that he needs to be in shape for, or maybe there’s a strongman competition in July that ol’ “Big Daddy Dean” is prepping for. Their training is going to be organised in such a way that when it’s “Game Time,” they’re in the best condition possible.
Let’s use Mr. Muscle as an example. His bodybuilding competition is in December, so his training routine for that year (Macrocycle) will be constructed so that when it’s show time, he’s put on a bit more muscle whilst having low body fat percentage.
His first few Mesocycles may last for 3-4 months. He might use April to August so that he can bulk up and put on some extra muscle mass. Then he might use his next few Mesocycles as a cutting phase – where from September to November his goal is to reduce his body fat percentage whilst maintaining muscle mass. After his competition, he may want to spend 2-3 months as a recovery cycle so that his body can recuperate.
As you can see, each of the Mesocycles play a different part to the overall Macrocycle. This benefits athletes so that their body is peaking at the times when it needs to peak, and resting at times when it’s okay to rest. This keeps the body guessing so that it doesn’t plateau, and also prevents injuries that can come from just hammering the body with no rest.
Can a "typical client" be trained in "periods" for better results?
You can easily see how periodisation works for a bodybuilder or competitive athlete, but what about “Average Joe Client” – is it useful for him too? The short answer is Yes, but your client needs to be prepared to make a few commitments before you get started…
- Does your client have a specific long term goal that they are working towards?
It doesn’t have to be preparing for a bodybuilding show or a strong man competition, but it does have to be something that is specific and measurable. If your client wants to lose weight, then the goal of “I want to lose weight” isn’t good enough.
Even if it’s something like, “I want to have the same body as Henry Cavill in Superman,” or “I want to have a figure like Beyonce,” it needs to be something that is concrete and something that you can help them work towards.
- Is your client committed to following a long term training programme?
Since this approach to training requires a long term commitment, your client needs to be prepared to make a firm decision as to whether or not he/she can stick to this training programme.
Is your client going to be travelling anytime soon?
Will he/she have access to the equipment needed to follow the training programme?
Do they have any work commitments that require them to put the training programme on the back burner for a while?
If they aren’t prepared to make a long term commitment to this long-term training approach, then maybe Periodised Training isn’t right for them. But, if they can commit long-term, the only question that’s left is…
- Do you understand Periodised Training enough to construct a programme for your client?
Programming a periodised training routine does take some know-how, but it’s not exactly rocket-science either.
If you’ve never trained clients using periodisation, then you can do some more reading (here’s a good place to start), or you can recuit another trainer who has some experience with periodisation who would be willing to help you prepare your first client programme.
Here are some key concepts you should keep in mind as you begin preparing your next periodised programme:
- First and foremost, each program has to be customized for your client. As an example, let’s say that your client is wanting to lose 25 lbs in the next 6 months.
- If the client is new, it might be a good idea to start him/her on a 2-month phase that builds a foundation of strength while minimizing injury. Maybe something like a high rep–low weight exercise routine, or something as simple as a bodyweight circuit programme.
- After a couple of months building a foundation of strength, you can move into Phase 2 where you increase the resistance and lower the reps. Adding a little muscle mass will rev up your client’s metabolism. In addition, may add in some short but intense cardio sessions that will help with calorie-burning without sacrificing muscle gains.
- Finally, Phase 3 could incorporate a period of active recovery. Something as simple as morning walks, hot yoga sessions, or basic stretching would be optimal to allow their body to rest, recuperate, and prepare for another more demanding phase of training.
To summarise, periodisation is perfect for clients who are ready to make a long-term commitment to achieving specific goals. It takes into account both work and rest, allowing the body to be “broken down” during periods of work, and built back up during periods of recovery.
Dave Smith is a professional fitness and weight-loss coach who was chosen as “Canada’s Top Fitness Professional” in 2013. He shares awesome health and weight-loss tips through his blog and podcast that you can find at makeyourbodywork.com.