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By: Bridget Carlson, Senior Fitness Specialist 

Have you ever thought about how long you have been performing the same workout for? Maybe you like to switch it up and try different types of exercise throughout the week, but are you sticking to the same reps, sets, and weight used? How about your cardio sessions? Are you running, biking or rowing the same distances at the same pace every time?

When programming my workouts in prep for a body building competition last year, periodization became highly important. The National Academy of Sports Medicine defines periodization as the division of a training program into smaller, progressive stages. I set myself up on a 12week training program. In the beginning of training for a show, the goal is to be at your highest caloric intake and lifting the heaviest weights that you can. I made sure to start my training with the heaviest loads that I could handle in a (set) x (rep) range that looked like (4-6) x (4-6). I stayed within that heavy strength phase for three weeks with the goal of putting on some muscle mass and gaining strength. Week by week, my total caloric intake decreased, therefore so did my energy levels. At that point, I switched up my strength training to a load that was more attainable but with (set) x (rep) range that looked more like (2-3) x (8-12).

When you are on your “A” game, training consistently and eating clean, your body is more capable of plateauing. (Plateauing is when your body no longer responds to your training because it has adapted) This is why periodization is so important. Switching up the way you train will trick your body to utilize different muscle fibers and energy systems. In body building, it is crucial to maintain your muscle mass as you begin to lean out.
Changing up your workouts can be done in a number of ways. The Barbell Bench Press is not the one and only way to build your chest muscles. Try new movements! Target the chest by doing a cable press or decline push up. Add in a totally new format like Pilates to challenge core muscles. Throw some intervals into your cardio work one day instead of a steady pace the whole time. Using these methods, I was able to keep my body progressing towards the physique needed to compete for body building.