Tag Archives: Periodization

Resistance Training Cycles

Periodization, powerlifting cycles, and hypertrophy cycles are all similar versions of the same thing – each specific to their application. For example, a bench press periodization program is design to help you max out on your bench press. However, regardless of the program design, all training cycles are based on a timeline varying workout volume and intensity.

The timeline of a cycle depends on the needs of the athlete. For example, an Olympic athlete might have a yearly plan segregated into four 12-week hypertrophy cycles with specific quarterly goals. Or alternatively a lifter might have an upcoming powerlifting tournament in 4 months they would like to prepare and devise a 16-week periodization program.

Regardless of the timeline it is fundamentally important to understand that each cycle transitions form high volume to low volume allowing the central nervous system to accommodate the demands of successive increases in intensity.

For example, a 16 week powerlifting cycle might start out with 5 sets of 5 reps and continuously reduce the number of sets and reps as follows:

  • Weeks 1-2
    • 5 sets x 5 reps (25 total reps)
  • Weeks 3-4
    • 4 sets x 5 reps (20 reps)
  • Weeks 5-6
    • 3 sets x 5 reps (15 reps)
  • Weeks 7-8
    • 5 sets x 3 reps (15 reps)
  • Weeks 9-10
    • 4 sets x 3 reps (12 reps)
  • Weeks 11-12
    • 3 sets x 3 reps (9 reps)
  • Weeks 13-14
    • 7 sets x 1 rep (7 reps)
  • Weeks 15-16
    • 5 sets x 1 rep (5 reps)

Notice how the total number of repetitions performed slowly decline throughout the cycle as the rep range approaches and weight used reaches your max 1 rep PR. The higher volume of work done at the beginning of the cycle stresses the nervous system using a much lighter weight. As the volume continues to decrease the intensity of each workout increases as the powerlifter is expected to handle heavier weights.

Other methods of measuring and controlling training volume exist; however, most powerlifting periodization programs gradually decrease the number of sets and reps as the controlled variable in the workout.

Add 50 lbs to Your Bench Press in 12 Weeks

This is a bench press powerlifting periodization program that can be used by anyone looking to add weight to this exercise fast whether you are a powerlifter, bodybuilder, or just looking to break a bench press plateau. The program is a two day per week bench press periodization program in which you train your chest – heavy one workout and then light the next.

The heavy day must always be prioritized and follow any rest days to ensure you have maximum energy. Secondly, it is important that bench press is the first exercise performed in each chest workout.

At the end of twelve weeks, take 3 to 4 days to rest and then try out your new 1 rep max in the bench press.

If you train infrequently (one body part per week), the light day can easily be incorporated into your shoulder day as it only consists of 5 sets x 5 reps of the bench press that is 50 lbs lighter than the heavy day.

Also, the number of sets and reps performed on light day always remains the same, whereas it changes every 3 weeks for heavy day.

It is important to have at least 3 days of rest between each heavy and light day. The light day is not to be taken for granted as it is on this day that you practice technique. The amount of weight used on light day should be at least 50 lbs less than heavy day.

If you want to bench the most weight you possibly can, you have to practice the bench press no differently than how a golf player or baseball player would perfect their swing – through countless repetitions, endlessly repeated on an ongoing basis, often for years. No one is good at the bench press by accident. It can take years of training to perfect your technique. Light days are an opportunity to practice.

The estimated starting weight in the bench press is 70 % of your 1 rep max and each heavy workout this weight is increased by 5 lbs. Remember, it is important to stick with the prescribed number of reps. If you can potentially do more reps hold yourself back and save that nervous energy for the next workout.

Heavy Day

  • Bench Press
    • sets and reps change over a 12 week period
  • Incline Press
    • 3 sets x 5 reps
  • Dumbbell Flyes
    • 2 sets x 15 reps

The following are the prescribed number of sets and reps for this 12-week bench press periodization program:

  • Weeks 1-3
    • 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Weeks 3-6
    • 3 sets x 5 reps
  • Weeks 6-9
    • 5 sets x 3 reps
  • Weeks 9-12
    • 3 sets x 3 reps

Light Day

  • Bench Press
    • 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Shoulders (this includes all shoulder exercises)