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Periodization Training = Longevity / Optimal Performance
As we age, overuse injuries tend to occur if a never
changing exercise routine is done for too long or if you start something new
and do too much, too fast, too soon. Whether it is high mileage running,
heavy weight lifting, high repetition calisthenics, and anything else for
that matter, if we do not change the routine frequently, you have a high
chance of getting injured or just burned out on an endless plateau. Also, frequency, intensity, time doing workouts
can play an equal part in both properly training you as well as
over-training you. Here is what I have done now for more than 10 years and it
has enabled me to be without serious injury from training and keeps me in a
condition where I can train with the younger generation in their teens and
For instance, in my “solstice plan,” the workout cycle will bell curve to a maximum during the longest day of the year June 20 and will decrease slowly until the shortest day of the year Dec 20. Now, when the New Year arrives and each day is getting longer, so do the workouts until they peak in June. And the cycle continues. As you can see below in the 15 month periodization cycle, my running/high rep PT cycles peak in Jun-Jul and my swimming drops to about 50% of what I do in the winter swim peak. Also during the winter there is a peak in lifting that begins late fall / early winter. Usually the lifting cycle is 12-16 weeks. So arranged like this my running peak for both distance / speed is in June - July, swimming and rucking peak for both speed and distance is Dec-Jan, and lifting peak is late March. This cycle has proved invaluable to my health, fitness, ability to stay active without injury for the past ten years.
Why periodize? Well for athletes it is all about peaking during the season / championship season, but the for tactical athlete there are no off-seasons. The military has an easier schedule to fit this type of program into as you can PEAK prior deployments on the elements you will need for deploying to a combat zone: speed, agility, strength, good foundation of endurance. For the police and fire fighter - finding the "off-season" is harder if not impossible, so the extra stresses of workouts need to be perfectly timed as both stress reliever as well as capability increaser / maintainer.
Red Line = Running / PT
Blue Line = Swimming
Black Line = Lift
As you see, the easier running part of the workout comes in the middle of winter and the toughest part is in the summer. Winter workouts do not mean you do NOTHING - they are just easier in time involvement, mileage, and repetition than the summer season. My book Maximum Fitness is a 52 week workout that demonstrates the cycle into 4 x 13 week periods that include:
1st Quarter - Calisthenics / Cardio Workouts - The goal of this cycle is to build a foundation of moderate to high reps of calisthenics or bodyweight exercises to improve fitness testing scores, but to also burn off some of the bulk you created during the winter weight lifting cycle. Progressing the running each week is critical to this cycle as well and will help prevent over-use running injuries when starting back up again.
2nd Quarter - Calisthenics / Cardio Workout (more advanced) - This phase takes the last cycle and builds upon it further with more maximum effort (high rep / high mileage cardio) workouts. Typically at the end of this cycle you will reach a peak in cardiovascular and bodyweight performance. At this point, you will be ready for a change.
3rd Quarter - Some Calisthenics / Some Weights / Cardio Workouts - So, you change your routine a bit. Decrease reps of calisthenics, but add weights incrementally each week to build up your strength. Cardio options grow by adding more non-impact to your running routine as you taper a bit to prepare for the weight cycle.
4th Quarter - Near 100% weights / less running more non impact cardio - The weight routine in Max Fitness is more of a weight gain cycle - body building like workout. But ss a former football player and power lifter, I have always enjoyed this cycle and found that within 4-8 weeks, I was back to old max weight (1RM) in several exercises to include bench press, power clean, and dead lifts. Usually weight gain will accompany this cycle and typical results are 10-15 lbs especially if you like to watch football and eat! The legs will feel good on occasional runs after a few weeks of tapering down to more non-impact cardio. My newer ebooks on winter lifting phases focus on the power lifts as well as the non impact cardio options.
When you push your fitness to extremes the way I have throughout my teens, 20s, 30s, and now 40s, you need to create a break from all the elements of the above routine. Periodization is required to achieve that - it is simply model of a program that logically progresses throughout the year. You can create your own to fit your fitness goals.
When I was in the SEAL teams, we actually did this type of program as winter diving always was tough without extra bulk. So, we bulked up over the winter in order to handle the colder water temperatures. So this style of training does perform a very useful purpose tactically as well asphysiologically.
Navy SEAL APP
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author
certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National
Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a
workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the StewSmith.com
Fitness eBook store and the
BOOKS / eBOOKS / DVDs
BOOKS / eBOOKS / DVDs
Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness (Book / DVD)
The Special Operations Workout
The SWAT Workout - From Recruit to SWAT Team Member
The Combat Swimmer Stroke DVD
The Pre-Habit Workout DVD
The Complete List of Stew Smith's eBooks:Fitness for All Levels of Fitness The 90 Day Beginner Guide to Fitness
The Advanced Maintenance and Recovery Program
The Busy Executive Workout Routine
The Special Forces Physical Fitness Workouts
Navy SWCC Workout
Air Force PJ / CCT Workout
The OCS, ROTC, Service Academy, & Bootcamp Workouts
The USMC IST and PFT Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Bootcamp Workout
The NEW Army PRT and Combat Readiness Test Workout
The PFT Bible - Military / Police Standard PFT
The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Test WorkoutsThe Fire Fighter Workout
Some Titles Above available in Print Softcover Format