Physical Practice – Periodization

How to get guiltless about Working Out

You work out.
You go out or stay in and exercise.
You found an activity you like to perform to stay in shape.

Yet questions arise

  • Am I doing it too much? too little?
  • How can I reach my performance goals?
  • How much should I do? How long? How often?

The questions can be crippling.
The uncertainty about what to do can quickly lead to skipping workouts or turn them into aimless boring sessions.

Physical practice is supposed to be enjoyable - Like everything in life, for that matter, nothing is supposed to be endured but only dealt with.

One simple way to plan your fitness plan is to use periodization.

If you already read that post, you may go straight to the calculator.

Periodization is a very important aspect of proper training

  • Helps preventing overtraining
  • Reduces the risk of injury
  • Eliminates the guesswork
  • Eliminates guilt, complacency, and other self-defeating emotions
  • Promotes motivation

Planning your physical practice using the principles of periodization will help you maintain your training regiment effortlessly.

You will know what to do, how hard to go, how much to do before you start your session, and all will be fine.

Periodization is used by sports coaches and professional athletes. Below is a simplification adapted to the needs of regular folks we are.

Principle One
Workouts will be divided into 4 types of session:

  • Easy
  • Medium
  • Hard
  • Recovery

Each type represents a level of effort compared to your current maximum.

  • Easy - about 60%
  • Medium - about 80%
  • Hard - above 100%, up to 120%
  • Recovery – no more than 20%, or even just rest

Say your best is doing 20 pushups or run 20 minutes

  • Easy would be 12 pushups or a 12-minute run
  • Medium would be 16 pushups or a 16-minute run
  • Hard would be 24 pushups or a 24-minute run
  • Recovery would be 4 pushups or less or 4 minutes of easy jogging.
    >Or just rest

Recovery is as much important as going hard
During recovery, you can also do something else that uses your muscles in a different way. Recovery is moving your body but in a gentle, soothing, and fun way - Instead of a run, play soccer, or just stretch.
During recovery, focus on technique, meditate, relax, eat and drink plenty.

Principle Two
It takes about 3 to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to new performance.

That is if you have been able to break your record doing 24 pushups or running 24 minutes, it will take several takes over a month for this to become your new normal. You can then try to modify your plan.

  • Easy becomes 60% of 24 or about 15 (pushups or minutes running)
  • Medium becomes 80% of 24 or about 20
  • Hard becomes 120% of 24 or about 28
  • Recovery becomes 20% of 24 or about 6

There are many advantages in planning the intensity of your workout

  • After a few sessions in recovery, easy, or medium mode, your body will crave going hard
  • During a hard session, you know that next time will be guilt-free, nice and easy, so you can push yourself
  • You plain deserved your recovery session, there is no shame in doing little or nothing that day
  • No need to kill yourself during easy and medium sessions, you know your hard day is coming soon

Here is a sample weekly program. Adjust yours to your needs.

Each day may also comprise a different activity, like cardio running some days and strength training other days, etc.

You can create a macrocycle out of your weekly plan, having easy, medium, hard, and recovery weeks over a month (or a 28 day-periods)

Using the current example,

  • Week 1 (easy) would max out at 16 (pushups or minutes running)
  • Week 2 (Medium) would max out at 20
  • Week 3 (Hard) would max out at 30
  • Week 4 (Recovery) would scale back to a maximum of 6

Here is a calculator to help you figure out your fitness plan

It may take several months before you find your balance.

The key is to keep trying and practicing. Only your own experience can teach you what works for you.
Books and newsletters are just there to guide and inspire you. No amount of reading will make you more fit.