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Undulating Full-Body Micros

Rep ranges are all over the place during this 5-day program. But it's for good reason: to keep your muscles guessing... and growing!

Undulating Full-Body Micros

I covered linear and reverse linear periodization in the last two weeks of full-body workouts, so now it's time for the third major type of scheme: undulating periodization.

As the name implies, undulating periodization follows a non-linear scheme. With the linear full-body micros, you started off with light weight and high reps (16-20) and progressed every day to heavier weights and lower reps, reaching 3-5 reps per set by the fifth and final workout. With the reverse linear micros, it was the exact opposite pattern – you started off with heavy weights and low reps (3-5) and worked your way to 16-20 reps per set over the course of five workouts.

With the full-body undulating micros, you’ll still employ the same rep ranges as you did with the linear and reverse linear schemes (3-5, 6-8, 8-10, 9-11, 12-15) – just in a different order. Here’s how those rep ranges will fall from day to day over the course of the five workouts:

Workout 1: 12-15 reps*

Workout 2: 3-5 reps**

Workout 3: 9-11 reps*

Workout 4: 6-8 reps**

Workout 5: 16-20*

Note: You’ll do three sets of each exercise in all workouts.

*On the last set, after reaching failure, do one rest-pause set.

**On the last set, after reaching failure, do one drop set.

With an undulating scheme, the rep ranges are seemingly all over the place – going from high to low, back to high, then low again, etc. But it’s not exactly a haphazard type of thing, at least not the way I design it. An undulating program is "controlled chaos," if you will.

Undulating models have gained popularity in recent years among strength and conditioning programs due to their convenience, effectiveness, and flexibility. Instead of sticking with one training phase for several weeks or more, athletes can change intensity and volume from one workout to another – a concept linear and and reverse linear schemes don't allow. For example, an athlete might perform a strength/power workout (2-6 reps per set) on Monday, then an endurance workout (15-30+ reps per set) on Wednesday, followed by a hypertrophy/muscle-building workout (8-12 reps per set) on Friday. The following week could entail a switch in the order of workouts – say, endurance on Monday, hypertrophy on Wednesday, and strength on Friday.

I'm using undulating periodization in a completely different context in my #TrainWithJim full-body series, of course, but it's good to be aware of the general benefits of this style of training if you're thinking about utilizing it for a longer period of time than five days.

One of the great things about undulating periodization is the fact that it requires less organization and planning than do linear and reverse linear periodized programs. For instance, if you feel tired or sick on a given day – or, just the opposite, you feel exceptionally motivated and strong – your workout can be changed on the fly to better suit your mood and physical health. Or, if scheduling is a problem and you're short on time one day, you can switch to a workout with lower volume.

Although it may seem like a training system that requires little planning would be less effective than a program that’s scheduled out for months in advance, research has found that undulating periodized programs are just as effective as linear periodized models for the development of strength, power and muscle mass. Plus, they’re far more effective than non-periodized programs. One study found that undulating periodized training was actually more effective for developing strength as compared to a linear periodized plan.

The sporadic nature of an undulating scheme works as a default for building muscle, strength, and power for this reason: Because periodization is based on the fact that a physiological system makes adaptations to a stress that it’s exposed to. Yet, if it’s exposed to the stress for too long, the adaptations will plateau and even reverse to some degree. Given that, an undulating periodized scheme allows the stress (strength training) to be encountered for very short periods before it’s changed and then cycled back in.

In this particuar full-body micros program, the different types of training (heavy, light, moderate, etc.) are alternated daily. Therefore, it helps keep the muscles from getting used to a certain "linear" pattern of stimulus. What results is “muscle confusion.” Confused muscles tend to be non-plateauing, growing muscles!

Below you'll find the five workouts ("microcycles") in my full-body undulating program. Up next will be two weeks of pendulum training – but let's not get ahead of ourselves. You'll be confused enough (at least your muscles will) in these five days!

Undulating Full-Body Workouts

Workout 1

Workout 2

Workout 3

Workout 4

Workout 5

Download All Workouts Here

 





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