Tag Archives: periodisation

Periodising cardio.

Usually the average person will do this without any rhyme or reason, they just do it.

No consideration for heart rate targets or what they’re actually trying to achieve.

Keeping it simple you’ve got 3 main types of CV to program:

Steady State – Long Run
Interval – Planned Sprints
Fartlek – Mixture of sprinting, jogging, walking

Nothing spectacularly new, although you can also hit the old heart muscle by a combination method that is lifting related CV.

Think complexes with dumbbells, bars, bell, bags, etc.

One of the ideas behind the hybrid of weight/CV is to have a change in the muscle composition and gain more mitochondria as a result and this would happen in by playing with density, sustained effort/repeated muscular contractions with a suitable load to really create the desired oxygen debt.

All good for fat-loss too, provided you do some basic maths & tracking.

Any of these methods are great for establishing your heart rate targets:

Old Faithful: 220 – Age
Karvonen Formula: 206.9-(age *.67)-RHR * %Effort+RHR
MAF Method: 180 – Age
Any Online Calculator

Once you’ve gotten the numbers you can begin programming whichever out of the cardio above that suits you.

It is worth remembering that while you may enjoy the more higher intensity/impact, this may not quite be the most optimal if you also plan on achieving other goals such as strength, for example.

Many forget to account for the additional fatigue.

It’s why many can program in lower intensity work, or the Steady State side of things far more easily because they’re not that drawing on the nervous system and don’t always create too much fatigue, provided you’re monitoring your heart rate and don’t turn it into slugfest.

You see that is the common issue, people turn everything into a battle.

Keeping this in mind we can look at the programming using this classic principle: FITT

Frequency – 3 days per week
Intensity – 60% HRR
Time – 20min
Type – Steady State (varied: walk, bike, skip etc)

In the light of knowing about basic and time honoured linear periodisation, you may end up with something like this (for say health/fat loss goal that is).

Say we have someone who is very deconditioned –

Week 1 – x3p/w, 60%HRR, 20min
Week 2 – x3p/w, 60%HRR, 25min
Week 3 – x4p/w, 60%HRR, 22min
Week 4 – x4p/w, 60%HRR, 27min
Week 5 – x5p/w, 60%HRR, 24min
Week 6 – x5p/w, 60%HRR, 29min
Week 7 – x6p/w, 60%HRR, 26min
Week 8 – x6p/w, 60%HRR, 31min
Week 9 – x7p/w, 60%HRR, 28min
Week 10 – x7p/w, 60%HRR, 33min

At this point you may choose to tweak things in block2:

Week 1 – x3p/w, 62%HRR, 30min
Week 2 – x3p/w, 62%HRR, 30min
Week 3 – x4p/w, 64%HRR, 30min
Week 4 – x4p/w, 64%HRR, 30min
Week 5 – x5p/w, 66%HRR, 30min
Week 6 – x5p/w, 66%HRR, 30min
Week 7 – x6p/w, 68%HRR, 30min
Week 8 – x6p/w, 68%HRR, 30min
Week 9 – x7p/w, 70%HRR, 30min
Week 10 – x7p/w, 70%HRR, 30min

^ You can laso use other equations calculate how many potnteial calories you burn in each session, just take it with a pinch of salt, as they’re often a guide, not a gospel.

Chances are you can see the pattern here, after this block the intensity might perhaps stay at 70%, then you may look at increasing the time again, perhaps working towards 45min, 7xp/w with 70%HRR, at which point you may opt for starting to add in some more intense forms of CV.

That is provided the base level health & fitness/conditioning goals have been hit (drop in body fat, lowering of resting heart rate, etc).

Of course the cardio is only one element, you’d also do well to have people in making nutritional improvements in regards to the quality of their foods, a small caloric deficit (if they’re carrying too much excess body fat) and in addition to that overall behaviour/habit change.

The comes the age old question.

Do we do this before or after weights?

Personal preference is as follows:

After or at a completely different time.

In an ideal world where people actually stuck to their word and make the positive lifestyle improvements they speak of doing, they’d do this light CV in the AM upon waking.

Combining that with turning off all electronics at say 9pm, and getting to bed before 11pm, and then starting the day at say 5:30-6am for some quick and rewarding CV will not be too hard.

You can delve into the literature, however this sets people up for the day with various cognitive benefits, more perceived energy and also leads to potentially beneficial habit changes in their attitude/personality (more confident, etc).

Another personal preference is to not eat post CV, just because it’s rarely needed and many will overdo their calorie consumption, so waiting for an hour or two post gentle CV as descried above would be ideal.

Before you panic and think you’ll lose all your gains.

Chances are you won’t, in all fairness you’ll probably gain far more benefits to your current progress due to increase conditioning, better & faster recovery due to improved circulation and a whole host of other benefits too.

So dear people, how much thought do you give to your cardio programming?

I know some of you are keen endurance practitioners & athletes, so sharing your knowledge would make for great reading for everyone.

Please do leave your musings below.

Enjoy, Ross

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The Workout Basics You’ve Been Missing.

Want to build strength and muscle with simple program?

All you will need is the following:

  • Spreadsheets (easy to write out and record progress)
  • Calculators (to workout of % of 1RM)
  • 45-60min Training Time
  • The Desire To Succeed

Below is a series of reps/sets with their desired % of 1RM (1 rep max) for starting weight that would be used (this might seem low on the outset but as you progress and add weight you will be glad your started out slightly lighter) and a list of exercises.

  • 8×3 – 85%
  • 6×4 – 80%
  • 5×5 – 75%
  • 4×6 – 70%
  • 3×8 – 65%

*A more experience lifter will start anywhere from 2.5-5% higher than the suggested % of 1RM, so 8×3 @ 87.5 – 90%.

  • Back Squat, Front Squat, Overhad Squat
  • Bench Press, Incline Bench Press, Weighted Dip (bar or dumbbell)
  • Deadlift, Deficit Deadlift, Double Overhand Deadlift, Snatch Grip Deadlift
  • Overhead Press, Behind Neck Press, Dumbbell Press (neutral grip, clean grip, snatch grip)
  • Bent Over Row (overhand, underhand) , Weighted Pull/Chin Up,Single or Double Arm Dumbbell Row, Upright Row

With these you will be able to build a solid base of strength and mass easily. The best part is you can use them in various ways, the suggestions I will give you today are not gospel, they are only a few of the potential combinations that I have used with success so far.

I will be honest, these suggestions haven’t worked for everyone, I have had to change various things such as TUT, rest periods, weight progression, rep progression and much more for each specific individual, but what I will teach you today has had the most consistent results, with the majority of people.

Lets say you’re training 3 time days per week, above you have 5 different rep ranges and each rep range will give you a slightly different stimulus and result.

  • 8×3 – Strength
  • 6×4 – Strength
  • 5×5 – Strength/Hypertrophy
  • 4×6 – Strength/Hypertrophy
  • 3×8 – Hypertrophy

Now to build strength and mass equally you might do well to choose the following rep ranges that you will use for each day:

  • 8×3 – Strength
  • 5×5 – Strength/Hypertrophy
  • 3×8 – Hypertrophy

These rep ranges will stay consistent throughout the week but the chosen exercise will differ, this makes training a lot more fun and incredibly productive as you’re stimulating the muscles through varying training methods.

The you will need to assign one of the given compound movements above for each rep range on each day. I have used the following exercises: Back Squat, Weighted Dip & BNP, Deficit Deadlift & Weighted Chin. These offer a full body workout with a decent amount of balance. there will be a note on assistance movements later.

This is a full body workout. Below you will see how the exercises stay the same but the reps change on a daily basis, this will allow an good balance of strength progression with gaining respectable amounts of lean mass too. I would also suggest that you use your rest days as ‘active recovery’ by doing 30-45min of moderate cardio and some mobility work, this does not mean full out sprints, simply enough to get your heart working and build up a decent sweat.

  • Monday – Day 1 – 8×3 Back Squat, 5×5 Weighted Dip & BNP, 3×8 Deficit Deadlift & Weighted Chin + 1/2 Accessory Exercises.
  • Tuesday – Active Recovery Day: 30min CV 30min Mobility
  • Wednesday – Day 2 – 8×3 Weighted Dip & BNP, 5×5 Deficit Deadlift & Weighted Chin 3×8 Back Squat + 1/2 Accessory Exercises.
  • Thursday – Active Recovery Day: 30min CV 30min Mobility
  • Friday – Day 3 – 8×3 Deficit Deadlift & Weighted Chin, 5×5 Back Squat, 3×8 Weighted Dip & BNP + 1/2 Accessory Exercises.
  • Saturday – Active Recovery Day: 30min CV 30min Mobility
  • Sunday – Complete Rest Day

In terms of how you would progress the weights it’s pretty simple. If you hit all of the desired reps with good from then you can add a total of 2.5kg to your upper body movements and 5kg to lower body movements. If you miss a rep or feel your form wasn’t solid and your TUT was lacking* then stick on that weight for another week and attempt it again, if you still don’t get it then perhaps it’s time to change up the exercise and start building that up instead, this holds true for every exercise because you will only progress so far before you hit a proper plateau.

What about accessory work?

A good question, I have the following advise on that subject.

A nice simple rep range of 10,8,6,20 one 1 or 2 movements as a super set will be more than enough to help bring up those lagging areas that might not have had quite enough stimulation from the compound movements. These are some potential exercises you might use:

  • Hamstring Curl, Lunge, Kettlebell Swing, RDL
  • Cable Fly, Lateral Raise, Y-Press
  • Reverse Fly, Shrug, Face Pull
  • Bicep Curl or any variation, Tricep Push Down or any variation
  • Ab Roll Out, Leg Raise, Crunch, Windmill, Russian Twist

The possibilities for your choice of assistance work are only limited by your knowledge. If you’re stuck go and see the google-monster, it will help you find plenty of variation, but remember these are best used as EXTRA if you have time, they shouldn’t form the bulk of your workout, this is why I say 1-2 is enough.

*I have not mentioned much on TUT (time under tension) but aiming for a 4 second Eccentric, 1 second Pause, 1 second Concentric and another 1 second Pause should be adequate for now. You might have seen it written like this in some books: 4-1-1-1.

There are endless possibilities when it comes programming workouts, depending on your goal you might require more CV than just 30-45min on the days in-between your full body workouts.

Use this to help you stave off boredom and make the progress you deserve.

Bye Bye,


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The Secret of Constant Progression: Part 2

I trust you have all read yesterdays post.

If you haven’t please do so, it will make this one much easier to understand.

It’s time to move on to the subject of Intensity and how tweaking it can have a profound effect on your results.

When I hear people often speak of intensity they refer to how hard they are pushing and how little rest they have, in other words how ‘intense’ their session is. However the true meaning intensity* is not simply just getting hot, sweaty and out of breath, no no no, it is actually the total % amount of your 1RM you have on the bar.

*Intensity is measured as a % of your maximum. This is a transferable principle. For example, Cardio Vascular training you would monitor the heart rate level in such an instance – an athletes MHR (Max Heart Rate) could be 200 – athlete trains at 160 BMP (Beat Per Minute) – this is 80% of MHR.

After all, how can you measure an incase in intensity session to session without knowing this?

Just going on how tired you feel is not a good indicator and it’s likely to see you injured.

Lets just clarify;

Intensity in weightlifting is the % amount of your 1RM you have on the bar.

Adjusting the intensity of your workouts is a great way to help induce progressive overload, all it requires is a nice simple liner periodisation program (Just like we did with the Volume example.), in doing so you will be able to increase the intensity of your workout week to week and incur more overload – Lifting more weight each session.

Here is a follow on from my example yesterday:

Current Squat 1RM = 143kg = 100% 1RM

Week 1 – 5×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×5 = 2500kg (Total Weight Volume) @ 70% of 1RM

*You’re working at an intensity of 70%. Lets see how we can keep the sets/reps (volume) the same at 25reps, but increase the intensity to improve the progressive overload stimulation.

Week 2 – 5×5 @ 107kg – 5×107 = 535 – 535×5 = 2675kg (Total Weight Volume) 25reps @ 75% intensity

As you will be able to see by looking at this example, the progressive overload is higher in the second week, but not by much.

Week 3 – 5×5 @ 114kg – 5×114 = 570 – 570×5 = 2850kg (Total Weight Volume) 25reps @ 80% intensity

*Week 4 Deload to 5×5 @ 60% – 5×85 = 430 – 430×5 = 2150kg (Total Weight Volume) 25 reps a reduction of 20% intensity – This allows your body to back off form he volume but maintain its neuromuscular connections and familiarity with the weight.

If we add the total amount of weight lifted together from changing the Volume & the total amount lifted from changing the Intensity we can see how much of a difference there is.

Tweaking Volume = 14,500kg lifted over 4 weeks (Including Deload)

Tweaking Intensity = 10,175kg lifted over 4 weeks (Including Deload)

That’s a difference of 4325kg between the two. Surely this means all you need to do is just cycle the volume and happy days right?

Not really.

Cycling the volume only, will get you so far because of the sheer amount of reps you will have to amass, in the end it will be too much to handle. But what about linking the two?

What is this madness of which I speak I hear you ask…

You could use the template from yesterday to set up your sets/reps and follow that for once cycle, then once it’s complete instead of start at 100kg (70%), start at 107kg (75%) and follow the same procedure. Remember you can also change the reps too, in the yesterdays post I only changed the total sets, so if you keep the sets the same but change the reps along with the intensity and you will see a complete difference in total load lifted:

Week 1 – 5×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×5 = 2500kg (Total Weight Volume) @ 70% of 1RM

Week 2 – 5×8 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×8 = 4000kg (Total Weight Volume) @ 70% of 1RM

^^ Total Load look familiar?

Use this advice to structure your workouts and you will have increased your overall load and further continued your progressive overload, this will lead to new strength & size gains.

*PROVIDED YOU EAT ENOUGH! Seriously, you need to be in an anabolic state to build muscle, that means being in a caloric surplus.

Now armed with these two crucial pieces of knowledge you should be set to take over the gym and become a colossus. But wait… I told you there were 3 elements you can change… Tomorrow we cover the forgotten aspect of adaptation;



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