Undulating Periodization is basically a fancy way of saying "vary the sets, reps, and intensity of your training to maximize your results." It's a great way to deal with plateaus, and it's a great way to train when you're older and it's hard to sustain maximum effort for a long period of time.
One way to use undulating periodization is to vary three intensity/volume schemes:
- heavy (such as 4 x 6, 5 x 5, or 3 x 5)
- light (such as 3 x 12, 2 x 15, or 2 x 20)
- medium (such as 3 x 8 or 3 x 10)
This variation can be workout by workout (Monday is heavy, Wednesday light, Friday medium) or week by week (Week 1 is heavy, Week 2 is light, Week 3 is medium, and then start back over on week 4).
Recently T-Nation published an article called "Tapping Your Full Growth Potential" that uses a slight variation of this - basically heavy/light and heavy/medium instead of evenly mixing heavy, medium, and light days. It puts a priority on strength/heavy lifting while still supplementing them with lighter days for strength-endurance, more muscular hypertrophy, and effectively proving a deload.
This idea isn't new - a great example of it is Alwyn Cosgrove's Holiday Program.
If you find the breaks between heavy weeks or heavy days is too long, this heavy/medium/heavy/light approach might be for you.
Periodization in General
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