What Is The Formula To Find Volume In Chemistry How to Use the Periodization Model to Gain Muscle

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How to Use the Periodization Model to Gain Muscle

Bodybuilders don’t get much respect. For some, we’re the freak show in town for the local circus at Billy Bob’s Big Top; To others, we are chemistry experiments going horribly wrong. Most bodybuilders have once dealt with some negative comments about your lifestyle. Unfortunately, as with most stereotypes, the masses are ignorant and/or misinformed about what we do and who we are. In fact, much of what bodybuilders do for a living (i.e. training and nutrition) may herald what the rest of the world will finally learn.

For example, in terms of nutrition, we’ve been eating “low-carb” for decades where we’ve been competing; however, the general public has only finally realized this in the last few years. Shouldn’t we get some sort of copyright check from all these diet books? We’re also the guinea pigs in the gym who find what works for gaining strength, building muscle, and to some extent drug use and abuse. The remainder of this article will review the protocols bodybuilders use to increase their muscle mass (hypertrophy). Much of this article will be a combination of empirical and anecdotal discussions, as scientists are not too concerned with gigantic physics, at least from a research-oriented perspective.

For starters, there are some assumptions the reader should make when considering any article on muscle building:

1. Genetically gifted athletes (ie mesomorphs) will generally have an easier bodybuilding time;

2. Hypertrophy gains are directly related to nutritional compliance and degree of discipline;

3. The use of exogenous anabolic hormones will generally result in greater gains in muscle mass.

Let’s roll with what’s out of the way.

THE LAWS OF MASS Apart from the genetic/cellular mechanisms responsible for muscle hypertrophy, there are five “big picture” components required for muscle gains:

1. Muscle tension

a. The ratio of this stress (a factor of the peak force output)

b. The length of this voltage (a time factor)

2. Rest and recovery (repair of damaged muscle tissue)

3. Flow of anabolic hormones (endogenous and/or exogenous)

4. Supply of raw materials (nitrogen from amino acids; vitamins and minerals)

5. Positive calorie balance (calories consumed > calories burned)

All of these components must be met on a daily basis. Muscle gains will be compromised if only one of the five is not considered optimal or lacks quality or is completely missing. To some extent, we have full control over all of the above. We determine how much we eat, how many calories we consume, and which raw materials we consume; we try to get plenty of sleep and rest; and finally, we go through the continuum of breaking down and building our precious muscle tissue. This is where things get interesting.


Much of what we know about the scientific principles of resistance training came from our iron brothers in the East, the Eastern Bloc countries, who systematically destroyed others in international weightlifting competitions for years. Known as “periodization,” this successful formula has been revived, in large part thanks to American and European scientists working together to produce superior athletes. Briefly, periodization includes time periods (called cycles) ranging from one day to one year or more (four-year cycles are common for Olympic athletes). Each cycle has volume, intensity, duration, training percentages, etc. In terms of the larger goal or event, they have different goals. For example, if a high school basketball player uses a classic periodization scheme, it would be very similar to the following:

GOAL: Increase strength and hypertrophy

MACROCYCLE=12 months MESOCYCLE I=General Preparation Phase-4 months (off-season) MESOCYCLE II=Force Phase-3 months (off-season)

MESOCYCLE III=Power Phase-3 months (off-season)

MESOCYCLE=”Maintenance Phase”-2 months (in-season) ***Each mesocycle will include detailed microcycle exercises based on the goals of each phase***

This is a proven method to increase performance-related variables in athletes. It has been written about nausea, and empirical evidence shows it to be superior to traditional, nonperiodic educational philosophies. Because bodybuilders are less concerned with muscle mass than athletic development, they will find little reward in the results of most periodic training protocols. Remember, periodization methodologies deal with performance as the main outcome. Bodybuilding is about physical development. Is there a conflict of interest? Maybe. Can the two coexist? YES! Should bodybuilders rethink periodization as their foundation? YES! We need to redesign our approach to muscle building, not just using it, but using all the principles of periodization. In fact, you may be making a very loose version without even realizing it.


A few years ago, considered one of the most respected researchers in his field, Dr. I had the pleasure of attending a lecture given by William Kraemer. I felt like I was in the presence of a Zen master, so I had to choose his opinion. I boldly raised my arm to question. “Do you think the principles of periodization can be applied to hypertrophy training, and as a follow-up, is there any advantage to fluctuating within a workout and between workouts?” In summary, he wasn’t sure if hypertrophy and periodization were compatible, but he wasn’t sure that it deserved further investigation. I’m glad it responded quite vaguely and solidified my suspicions that there is little interest in hypertrophy, but a plethora of other aspects of muscle function, including strength, power, and endurance.

Therefore, the best “science” is in the gym: your sweaty hours; your anecdotal experience; your training logs. Many bodybuilders use periodization methods, especially undulating or non-linear periodization, without consciously using training cycles. [Herein referred to as UP, as opposed to linear periodization, the more classic variation that research seems to indicate is not as effective as UP].

The two main advantages of using UP with respect to bodybuilding are: 1) Prevention of overtraining/poor recovery and 2) Theoretically increasing strength and muscle. Our capacity to develop new tissue is somewhat limited by the quantity and quality of our healing ability. UP allows maximum density and volume at the same time; this is contrary to the conventional linear periodization mode. While several factors can be attributed to overtraining, overstimulation of the nervous system may be the biggest culprit. In other words, for months, sometimes years, the same workout with the same weight, in the same order, in the same order, etc. These are typically referred to as plateaus in bodybuilding circles. It has to do with making your nervous system work harder than your muscles on its own. To avoid this stagnation, we must train smarter, including manipulation of our training variables – Frequency, Intensity, Volume, Duration – which is the fundamental guide to periodization.

There is no “law” that says every cycle must last in any time frame. In fact, a micro loop can only last one set! In my past training, I used micro-loops within workouts, not between workouts. My reps can range from 6 to 30 in a workout for the same muscle group.

CONCLUSION Books and articles on periodization have been written by some of our generation’s greatest sports scientists. Modern names that come to mind include Mike Stone, William J. Kraemer, and possibly Hans Selye, the forerunner of it all. Much of his research on periodization applies to athletes and performance improvement. The hypertrophy discussion above is speculative at best. This is part science, part assumption. But this is also his greatest asset! You can tailor your entire periodization plan to your physiology and physiology, and that’s still true! You have nothing to lose and muscle to gain!


* Periodization, in theory, prevents overstimulation of the neuromuscular system, thus allowing compensatory gains in LBM. This is due in part to a higher anabolic/catabolic ratio at any given time.

* Fluctuating (or non-linear) periodization forces the athlete to change training variables in order to make consistent and gradual changes in physique or performance.

* Cycles lasting one day or up to a year allow the athlete to master the opportunity to prevent staleness/highlands before they happen.

* Hypertrophy and periodization have received little research as the sole result, but appear to be compatible in their application. Bodybuilders seem to benefit from making calculated and precise changes to their routines.

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