How Undulating Periodization Can Make Your Workout More Effective

If your fitness strategy is to “show up and hope for the best,” it’s time to rethink your approach. Without a clear plan, one of two things is bound to happen: You’ll hit a plateau and stop seeing results, or you’ll overtrain, which can lead to burnout and injury.

When a fitness pro creates a plan for a client, they often use a concept called periodization, which divides a long-term training plan into phases or cycles.

“There are four main types of cycles: linear, undulating, block and conjugate,” says Trevor Thimay, CSCS, Beachbody’s executive director of nutrition and fitness content. “They’re all based on the same principle and goal: change your training volume and intensity over time (usually a few months to a year) to avoid plateaus, maximize adaptation, and optimize your progress.”

For example, Sure Thing with Megan Davis incorporates periodization training – or “type training” – as the basis of her latest program.

Megan Davis leads the Sure Thing workout

If you follow a phased training program, some phases may focus on hypertrophy (muscle growth), while others may be designed for strength or muscle endurance.

These constant, carefully calculated variations ensure that you continue to adapt and reduce the risk of hitting a plateau.

Undulating periodization is a type of periodization that is becoming particularly popular.

Here’s what you need to know about it to maximize your results.

What is Undulating Periodization?

The classic method of periodization is the linear model.

“You basically reach for heavier weights every few weeks, progressing from low weight/high reps (muscular endurance) to high weight/low reps (strength),” says Thiem. “Another way to think about it is to progress from a high training volume at a low intensity to a low training volume at a high intensity.”

Undulating periodization takes a different tack.

“You vary the amount and intensity of your training on a daily or weekly basis,” explains Thiem. “So, one week your focus might be strength, and the next might be endurance, for example.”

If you use a graph to map your training variables, they will undulate (up and down) over time rather than being linear (a straight line).

“An advantage of undulating periodization over linear periodization is that it helps provide variety in the short term, eliminates workout monotony and monotony, and fuels motivation and consistency,” adds Thiem.

How to Use Undulating Periodization

Megan Davis on the set of Sure Thing

Creating a periodized training plan requires an in-depth knowledge of training principles and how to apply them to achieve a desired goal, as well as taking into account lifestyle, fitness level and time constraints.

If you’re looking for an accessible fitness program that uses undulating periodization and can fit your fitness level, check out Sure Thing.

Unrestricted periodization is the foundation of the Sure Thing, Thiem explains, but Beachbody trainers put their own spin on it.

“We call our method ‘type training,'” he says. “During the eight-week program, you’ll alternate between endurance weeks, which target your endurance-oriented type I muscle fibers, and power weeks, which focus on your larger, stronger type II muscle fibers.”

“Every fourth week is dedicated to ‘functional recovery,’ where you’ll perform workouts that combine training principles from the other weeks and emphasize mobility,” adds Thiem. “The result is a comprehensive, results-driven training program that’s as fun as it is effective.”

Sure Thing includes five 30- to 45-minute workouts per week, as well as direct guidance on nutrition and supplements.

To start, you will need light, medium and heavy dumbbells as well as strength slides

A periodic training plan can help you optimize progress and avoid plateaus, burnout, and overuse injuries.

Join BODi to gain access to the Sure Thing and experience the benefits of undulating periodization — and feel stronger than ever.

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