PROGRESSION
  • Continue to progressively overload the targeted muscle group or energy system, and you will continue to improve... for a little while.

  • Fail to properly modify your volume, intensity, and/or rest, and you will likely experience the dreaded plateau

CONTEXT

Intelligent manipulation of training variables (volume, load, intensity) results in just the right amount of overload to elicit an appropriate stress response.  Continue to increase the volume and/or intensity over time -- this is called "progression."

SIGNIFICANCE

In order to ensure proper progression, you must systematically and intelligently modify the Volume, Duration, Intensity, and Rest Time for the work you intend to perform.  

SCIENTIFIC BASIS

This concept is closely associated with the General Adaptation Syndrome -- with an incremental, progressive approach to increasing volume and/or intensity, we take advantage of our knowledge of the G.A.S. and continue the gains.

WHAT VARIABLES CAN I MODIFY?

VOLUME

For loaded exercises: How many sets of how many repetitions?

For running/biking/rowing: How far?

REST

How long do we rest between exercises and between sets of exercises?  Less rest = a different physiological response to your training.

DURATION

For loaded/unloaded isometric exercises: How long do we hold it?

For aerobic/anaerobic work: How long do we perform?

Exercise Prescription(Rx)

Sets x Reps @ Intensity

3 x 5 @ 225 lbs

means perform 3 sets of 5 reps using a load of 225 lbs

INTENSITY

For loaded exercises: How much weight are you moving?

For running/biking/rowing: How hard are you pushing it?

More Things that need Rx

Intensity may also be prescribed using a rate of perceived effort, a percentage of a Repetition Maximum (RM), or a pace

PERIODIZATION

periodization

systematic manipulation of volume and intensity at specific time intervals to bring about optimal gains

synonym

intelligent modification of exercise parameters and training stimulus - this is the nexus of the principles of overload, progression, and recovery.

purpose

optimize positive adaptations to training and "peak" at the appropriate time

scientific basis

Han's Selye's G.A.S.

(General Adaptation Syndrome)

HOW TO INTEGRATE THESE CONCEPTS
acft training, army combat fitness test, acft scoring, acft events, Training For 600

The "KISS" Principle Applied Liberally

- Keep It Simple...

When training using Traditional or "Linear" Periodization (LP), volume starts high relative to intensity.  As the training progresses, intensity increases as volume decreases (an inverse relationship).  The type of training typically progresses through a continuum: Endurance --> Hypertrophy --> Strength --> Power

While there are many different types of periodization (undulating, block, etc.), the most fundamental type is "linear."  This type of progression is simple and most appropriate for those of us with lots of room to grow.  In fact, there's a good chance that unless you're performing at an elite level, you should stick to good, old fashioned, linear periodization.

The picture above graphically depicts LP, but what does that mean in a more tangible way?  It's a little bit different for each of the components of fitness, so make sure you have at least a working knowledge of those components first.  Ok, so you understand the difference between training for muscular strength and training for muscular endurance; here's how you tie those phases together:

Phase 1: Endurance

Volume starts high - somewhere between 15 and 20 reps for 3-5 sets for loaded training.

Over the course of several weeks, you lower your volume and increase the load.

Phase 2: Hypertrophy

As your load increases and your volume decreases, you move into the hypertrophy range: 8-12 repetitions for 3-4 sets of heavier weights.  The desired response here is an increase in muscle fiber cross-sectional area.  Over the course of a couple weeks, adjust your volume from sets of 12 to sets of 8 with a heavier load.

Phase 3:

Strength

Continue to increase the load and decrease the number of repetitions performed (volume).  3 Sets of 5 repetitions is a classic Strength protocol.  By now you should be working with somewhere between 80 and 85% of your 1 repetition maximum (1RM).

Phase 4:

Power

What are you training for?  Moving into a power phase may not be necessary, but training for power typically occurs after we've increased the ability of our muscles to produce maximal force against HEAVY external loads.  Power is not necessarily about moving heavy loads, though.  More importantly, we've got to train our body to produce force rapidly against lighter external loads (or just our bodyweight).  Learn More!

PERIODIZATION FAQs

What are macro, meso, and micro-cycles?  

Phases of progression are often described in terms of cycles.  Depending on the type of athlete and the sport an athlete is involved in, macro-cycles can last up to 4 years (think Olympic athlete).  That means that the athlete's training plan is focused on peaking somewhere around the Olympics every four years.  Each year of that athlete's training might be described as a meso-cycle (just a period of time between the macro and micro).  The athlete's meso-cycle is then further divided into micro-cycles -- something like the phases described above.

How long can I stay on a linear progression?

Hate to say it, but it depends... what is your training age?  Truth is, if you're still reading this, and you are not a competitive power lifter, then you probably have not maxed out your linear progression potential.  With a moderate approach and well-timed deloads, you could live on 3x5 island for years.

What is a de-load?

Big word, simple concept.  Periodization describes the manipulation of variables to ensure that performance trends upwards without providing so much stress that we lose those hard-earned gains.  The de-load is a staple of well-planned training - it gives the body some time to super-compensate (recover and grow).  De-load by decreasing your volume and/or intensity and increasing your rest/recovery time.  De-loads often last about a week and occur between cycles or phases of training.

"As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. One who grasps principles can successfully select their own methods."

Scroll left or right to check out the next principle.

Training Principles

Precision

Master the basics and move efficiently

Disclaimer

This website was prepared in a non official capacity. The opinions expressed on this website are the authors' own and do not reflect the views of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the United States government.  This site is not connected with any government agency. The information contained on this site is either open source, the author's opinion, or total B.S.  We are not doctors and will never pretend to be -- any attempt to improve your fitness based on the information contained within this site should first be approved by a medical professional.