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Periodization Live Tutorial Transcript

Linear, undulating, pendulum—if your training has grown stale and stalled your progress, periodization is the answer.

Periodization Live Tutorial Transcript

Note: This tutorial video was recorded as a live Facebook event. The text below is an edited transcript of the tutorial intended to provide members with a convenient means of referring to and further researching the topics and content detailed in the video.


Alright, JYM Army. Now, if you can't see me—don't worry. You don't need to be looking at me, no matter how good looking you think I am. You don't need to see me today. All you need to see is the whiteboard that I laid out here for you today.

What I'm going to be talking about today is basically periodization. However, for those of you been following along with my Train with Jim series—remember, these are my personal workouts that I put up for you guys to follow along. You can train with me, grow with me, get lean with me, and learn new techniques. I've covered so many techniques. I started the Train with Jim series in July, and for those of you doing my Ripped in 6 Challenge, you're actually doing the first 4 techniques that I covered in my Train with Jim series.

That's my 4-Minute Muscle technique, where you've got 4 minutes per exercise to complete as many reps as you can; followed by my 5-System, where you're doing 5 reps and increasing the weight until you can no longer complete 5 reps; you're doing my Power Pyramid system; we're doing Hundreds as well as High-Intensity Training. But those are just a few of the ones that we've covered over many, many months of you following my personal workouts. And so each week, basically, I cover a new technique. Because remember: Change is critical, and so we always change it up—which is why periodization is such an effective way to train.

The Forms and Functions of Periodization

Using a periodized program is very, very effective. For those of you who have questions about periodization or about the Train with Jim series, we're getting into pendulum training—which I'll talk about in a minute—but first we started with linear periodization, then I took you through a week of reverse linear periodization—and we'll break down each one of these—then undulating periodization, and finally we're getting ready for pendulum periodization starting tomorrow. And I'll break down the difference in all these different periodization schemes. However, regardless of the one you're using, they're all quite effective for increasing strength, increasing muscle mass, dropping body fat; getting faster, stronger, quicker—performance, as well.

Periodization really started with athletes—training athletes and getting them to peak properly for competition, because you can't always be at your best. Some very smart coaches many decades ago—periodization protocols go way, way back—were smart enough to realize that we need to be altering the way that athletes train over the course of weeks, or months, or even a year—and we'll talk about "macrocycles" versus "microcycles". While we're talking about this, I recommend that after this—or even while you're watching this live broadcast—you pull up my periodization article at JimStoppani.com, which discusses and breaks down all these different techniques, and just the old general sort of scheme of periodization.

Now, what periodization relies on is the way that an organism—our body—reacts to stress. Remember: weightlifting is a stress placed on the body. Lifting heavy weights isn't good for the body. I'm not saying it's bad. What's good for the body is the way the body adapts to lifting those weights, if you have a smart protocol. And so if you look up my periodization article on JimStoppani.com you'll see what's known as sort of the way that an organism deals with stress, and it's adaptation. But then, if you stick with the stress for too long, you start getting into stagnation.

And so, the basic protocol of periodization is that as the athlete adapts, before they start stagnating—if they stay too long with a certain rep range or a certain technique, then they're going to start stagnating and losing the results that they're getting, which is that adaptation. So what periodization allows is for adaptation to occur without stagnation, because you keep changing up the type of stress: changing up the rep ranges, the weight, the rest periods, the volume, etc.

So, one of the—I should say probably the very first periodization protocols is what's known as "linear periodization". Now, linear periodization is also known as the "classic model" because, like I said, this is really the first model of periodization. And we're working here with power athletes: This is working with Olympic shot-putters, powerlifters, what have you—this is really designed for strength athletes back many, many decades ago—Olympic weightlifters, as well.

What you do is you basically start light and progressively get heavier. So your reps start very high; here, what we did—now this is going back three weeks ago, I started this whole periodization scheme with my Train with Jim series so that you can get sort of a taste for all or at least the four main types of it. And there are other periodization schemes as well, these are the four main types—in fact, most people are only familiar with linear or reverse linear, and undulating—if that. Not really so much on the pendulum, but we'll discuss why the pendulum can be so effective and how it's so different from the others, yet kind of combines some of the techniques here.

Linear Periodization

So with the linear or classic periodization protocol, we start with very light weight. Now, I have this broken down—because these are full-body workouts, we were doing five workouts a week. So I'm showing you the five workouts that we did that week, starting on Monday with 16-20 reps. Now, we train each muscle group every day, so every muscle group is getting a heavier weight, progressively.

With my protocol, I'm giving you just daily—these are called "microcycles". Microcycles are short periods of the 16-20 reps, as short as a week—or even a day, in this case. "Macrocycles" tend to be bigger, longer: This could last for a month, two months—even three months, you could stick with a rep scheme. I wouldn't—three months is pretty much pushing it before you start getting that stagnation. Depends on the athlete—what the goal is, what their training was prior—but some macrocycles will go a month, even three months sticking in that same rep range.

I need more constant change. That doesn't change up as frequently enough for me, those macrocycles, which is why I like the microcycles. Changing up week—for those of you who've done my Shortcut to Size protocol, what you learned there was precisely the linear periodization. Now, we used different rep schemes, and we stuck with those reps for an entire week. So with the Shortcut to Size you started with 12-15 reps. You then went down to 9-11, I believe, next. And then it was 6-8, and then 3-5. After four weeks, you went back to the 12-15 and repeated. You did three cycles of that for basically twelve weeks. And that's why that program is so well-known for boosting both incredible gains in muscle strength and muscle size all while people are dropping body fat, at least if that's their goal.

In my daily workouts here—my Train with Jim—where I'm doing full-body every day, each one of these is a different workout while we're hitting each muscle group. So Workout 1, we're using a very light weight—something that allows us to hit 16-20 reps; next workout, we move down, 12-15 reps—so you jump up the weight to bring you down to that 12-15 rep range; next workout, increase the weight yet again—going up to 9-11; workout 4, again we increase the weight, dropping those reps down to 6-8 per set; and then, Workout 5, again we increase the weight going super-heavy here—only 3-5 reps per set.

So what this is allowing you to do is get a variety of resistance and rep ranges on the same muscle group, but based on this progression you can see that if we—if this is more like a week or even longer—you could see how this would prep an athlete to get stronger. Let's say it's a powerlifter and he's going for a meet on the bench press, 1 rep max, right? You don't just go in the gym and train your 1 rep max, that's the last thing you want to do; you actually won't get stronger doing that. You want to alter your rep ranges. And so what this is allowing you to do is to progressively put more resistance on those muscle fibers, and they adapt by getting stronger, and stronger, and stronger—and that's how you break PRs.

Reverse Linear Periodization

Now on the flip side of that is the technique known as "reverse linear periodization", and it's literally just the reverse of the linear model. This is still a linear model, but instead of getting heavier and the reps getting lower, here we start heavy and progressively drop the weight so that the reps increase in the opposite fashion.

Who would this be good for? Would this be good for a strength athlete? Probably not—at least not someone who's prepping for a competition here, after you're hitting the 16-20 reps. However, if this is months out from competition, then yeah this would work fairly well for not only—this works very—the reverse linear model tends to work best for muscle hypertrophy/muscle growth, and fat loss; less on strength.

However, if you look at the research, both protocols are effective for strength because it's all about the change. That change—remember, change is good. So no matter which way you're progressing, you'll get all those benefits—muscle mass, strength, fat loss, performance as well—depending on the workouts here that you're doing, what types of exercises.

Undulating Periodization

So Week 1 of my Train with Jim series—starting in this periodization module—we did linear, followed by reverse linear. Then last week, we did what's known as undulating periodization. And what undulating periodization does is it basically takes the linear model here and—you're using the same rep ranges, as you can see, but the model is no longer linear. It sort of jumps all over the place.

And so here, what we did last week—we just completed this on Friday, with the 16-20 rep workout; brutal high-rep workout, especially following the 6-8 rep workout—here we started with 12-15 reps, then increased the weight, decreased the reps down to 3-5; then the next workout, instead of continuing getting heavier, we went back lighter—9-11, so we reduced the weight, 9-11 reps; then Workout 4, we actually get heavier—6-8; and then Workout 5, we go back to lighter.

Now, it doesn't have to go light to heavy, heavy to light, lighter to heavy, heavier to light—in that manner. That's just—this is random, just how those 5 workouts sort of worked out. We could have started with 16-20, done 6-8, 3-5, then maybe 12-15. It doesn't really matter how you organize it as long as it's not linear. That's the thing. With the undulating model, you want to make sure that the weight is not increasing or decreasing in a linear fashion, progressively.

So you want to sort of jump all over the place: Heavy weight some workouts for low reps; then light weight; then back to heavy; maybe a little a lighter—even a little lighter—back to heavy; maybe back to light—it's a bit less organized if you will. But what's nice about that is with the undulating scheme—because it doesn't really matter what you follow the 12-15 reps with, or what you started with here, as long as it's different from the previous workout and doesn't move in a linear fashion—so what's nice about the undulating, the extra benefit for the undulating, is that—let's say on Workout 2 you came in and it's the 3-5 rep day, and you're like, "Man, I am wasted. I'm just, my body...there's no way I could train heavy, 3-5 reps today." That allows you to say, "You know what? Let's do 9-11 today, and then we'll see how tomorrow is. Maybe I'll do my 3-5."

So that's the nice thing about the undulating, is that you don't have to really stick—even if you made a plan—you can still alter it, and still get all the benefits of the undulating scheme, because the benefits come from that randomness in the order. It's basically what's known as "muscle confusion", where one workout's heavy, one workout's light; now we're at moderate reps; now we're heavy, now we're light—all over the place, versus that linear fashion where the body adapts to each week with the weight getting heavier or lighter. Here, you don't know what it is, and so the body doesn't quite adapt—helps to prevent stagnation. And with the undulating periodization scheme, you can go much longer than either one of these linear periodized schemes.

So that's the first three—and the main three—periodized protocols. If you ask people to list different periodization protocols, they'll probably only list those first three. Very few—unless you've been following me or a few other experts who also use pendulum—most people don't understand the pendulum because they just haven't seen it. So, what is pendulum periodization?

Pendulum Periodization

What we do with pendulum periodization is we basically have—so the rep ranges are a little different, but still—we've got 5 rep ranges. I just altered them a bit, but it's still—the heavy, moderately heavy, then moderate 8-10 versus 9-11, then we get into 12-15, and then instead of going to 16-20 I wanted a bigger bump with the rep ranges so I get 20-25. Now what happens here with the pendulum is, you basically start a middle point, okay? And if you think of a pendulum swinging—that's why I've got this sort of ball on the string here; this is a ball on a string, right? And we're going to let that hang straight down over our starting rep range.

I picked 8-10 here. You could pick—start at 12-15, and swing a bit higher or you can go lower based on what your main goal is, which is nice about pendulum training. Based on the goal, your starting point is going to be a little bit different—and I'll explain in a minute. But let's talk about the basic premise of this pendulum, where it's swinging. So we start at 8-10—let's say Workout 1 here would be 8-10; this is what's going to happen tomorrow, okay? Tomorrow, I'll post the workout at 8-10 reps. On Tuesday, the ball then swings up to 12-15—so this is Workout 2.

But now with the pendulum, what happens when the ball gets here? Now it has to swing back. So now it swings back, and Workout 3 is 8-10 reps again. 8-10, Workout 1; 12-15, Workout 2; back 8-10 for Workout 3—but now the ball keeps swinging in the other direction, so Workout 4 becomes our 4-6 reps. Now, the pendulum swings back and Workout 5 is, again, 8-10 reps. And then it keeps swinging to 12-15—so Workout 6 is 12-15. But now, with the pendulum as it swings it gains, right? It's physics, basically, right?

So it's allowed to swing—as the swinging starts, it gets bigger and bigger. So now, on this next swing not only do we move from 8-10 to 12-15, but now it swings all the way up to 20-25. So now that's going to be Workout 7, which will be Week 2. So we'll do six workouts this week, Monday through Saturday—take Sunday off, or if you need a different day off don't worry as long as you get in your six workouts. So that's Workout 7 for next Monday.

Now, the ball is over here, so now it's got to swing back. So now Workout 8 is 12-15 reps, and then it keeps swinging back to 8-10—that's Workout 9. It keeps swinging, 4-6—that's Workout 10. And then keeps swinging, down to 2-3 reps for Workout 11, and then it starts swinging back, right? And I end right here, Workout 12—we're going to do two weeks of this—at 4-6 reps. We could come all the way back but then, based on the week, we would need another week. But I'm just going to give you two weeks, so we're going to stop right here.

So if you notice here, these little numbers are the workouts. We've got 1, 3, 5, and 9 for 8-10; Workouts 2, 8, and 6, 12-15; Workout 7, 20-25; Workouts 4, 10, and 12 are 4-6 reps per set; and Workout 11 is 2-3. So if you'll notice here, we did four workouts in the 8-10 rep range—four, 8-10 in those two weeks. We did three workouts in the 12-15 range. And then we only do one workout in this high, high rep range. Then on the other side of the midpoint—our 8-10—we have three workouts in the 4-6 range, and only one workout in this very low rep, very heavy day. One workout.

What you'll notice here is that your starting point—you complete far more workouts with the 8-10 rep range versus the other rep ranges. And so what is important here is that based on your goal—let's say your goal is more—you're going to get—with all the other periodization protocols, you're going to get muscle mass if you're eating properly for muscle mass, and supplementing properly. You're going to get gains in strength. You'll lose body fat if you're dieting properly, and you'll increase your performance depending on what types of exercises you're doing, etc.

However, unlike the other ones where the rep ranges are all equal, right? We get an equal amount of time—at 12-15, 3-5, 6-8, 9-11—regardless of what our goal here is. These are daily workouts, it's either one day each or if it's a weekly microcycle like my Shortcut to Size, this is a week at 12-15, a week at—they're all even. However, what do we talk about with rep ranges? We talk about "sweet spots": we talk about the sweet spot for hypertrophy being somewhere in this 8-10, maybe 12—even down to 7; 7-12 rep range. That's sort of the sweet spot for muscle hypertrophy.

So if your goal is more muscle hypertrophy than strength—you still want to get strength gains, and you will—but you really want to maximize the muscle hypertrophy, the muscle growth gains, then it makes more sense to focus more in this range, the 8-10. We don't want to spend too much time out in 20-25—although switching it up to 20-25 reps, although light, increases endurance. Doing that from time to time is actually going to enhance hypertrophy, muscle growth. Periodically—not sticking in this rep range for long periods.

And then the same on the other side of the 8-10 rep range, going down to 2-3, 4-6, these heavy, heavy workouts here. These aren't going to stimulate much muscle hypertrophy if you're sticking with it, if you're always sticking in this rep range—you're going to get strong, not maximizing hypertrophy. You're still gaining muscle obviously, but not as much. So you only want to do these ones less frequently than the main goal, which is muscle growth.

That's sort of pendulum periodization in a nutshell. Like I said, what's nice about the pendulum is that it allows you to focus more on a specific rep range. So based on your goals—let's say maybe your goal was strength: You want to use pendulum training to prep for a powerlifting competition where you're going to be doing 1 rep max. I'd probably suggest you hang your pendulum over the 4-6 reps, so that you're getting more of these heavy rep ranges, and swinging and not going—you can, you definitely can swing this as high as you want and even it's lopsided here—you can't go much lower than 2-3, except for 1 and you really don't any 1 rep maxes prior to a competition. Maybe once in a while, but you're really saving it for the competition.

So even if it's a bit lopsided, you can swing all the way up and only swing back here, and then it hits the wall and it bounces back. You can still do that, or like I said you could shorten your pendulum—you could even keep it in 3 if you want, 3 rep ranges: You could start 4-6, go up to 8-10, back to 4-6, down to 2-3, back to 4-6, etc. You see how that works? And so you're always hitting—you're frequently hitting the sweet spot for strength as well as even going super heavy in the 2-3, and then even your high reps—you're not that high, it's really moderate. So you can adjust this.

Or if your goal is more endurance, you can start—hang your pendulum here or even up here and go extremely high; choice is yours. That's the nice thing about the pendulum training. And so what you'll notice, like I said you'll go 8-10, 12-15, 20-25—that's reverse linear periodization, right? You're getting lighter as the reps get higher. But then as it swings back, now it's linear periodization. But that's far more complex than just doing linear/reverse linear, because it gets bigger and bigger on the swings. What's nice here is you keep coming back to that main rep range that is the one that best fits your goal.

And remember, I'm a firm believer in change. So even though 8-10 or 12 reps is the sweet spot for hypertrophy, you never want to stick with just that rep range because you think that's the best one. That's the downfall that most trainers or trainees make, is that they basically stick with that 8-10 rep range; or if they're interested in getting stronger they stick with like 5—just do 5x5s. 5x5s is a great way to increase strength, but if you're always doing the 5x5s you're going to stagnate. That's that adaptation, the way the body adapts to a certain stress. And so no matter what that stress is—the stress could be cold, heat, being exposed to high temperatures or whatnot—in this case it's resistance directly on the muscle and how the body adapts as well as the muscles adapt.

So that's basically our periodization tutorial for today. Even if you're not using my Train with Jim series, you should've gotten a lot out of this because I broke down each one of the four main periodization schemes so that you can use this in your own training. That's my goal. It's not to have to hold your hand forever; my goal is to give you this information—you learn it, and then you can apply it and adapt it to your own goals, your own schedule, your own needs. That's what I'm trying to teach you here.

For those of you who are just tuning in and wondering what this is about: This is my periodization tutorial breaking down the four main periodization schemes. You can go back and watch, I will post this and have it on my Facebook page. And for those of you with questions—I know a lot of people are posting questions right now, but instead of me trying to fish through those and waste your time looking at me and staring at my screen trying to find applicable questions—I will go back after I post this and answer all your questions that you post under this live video. That way you can find your answer, much easier than having to go through the video and try to find, "Where did he answer my question? What part of the video was that?"

Watch the periodization tutorial over so that you get a clear indication of all these different models and how I'm using them, because this really shows you—for those of you who are visual learners? This really helps you to see the difference between linear; reverse linear—it's just the opposite of that; undulating—you're using these same rep schemes but it's bouncing all over the place; and then the pendulum is swinging up and down the rep ranges so that you're hitting some more frequently than others.

That's my tutorial for this Sunday. I've got to go do some training today, even though it's my active rest day. I won't be starting Workout 1 here until tomorrow. I'll be doing something, probably some kettlebell work today. I might even focus a little on the bench press as well. But it'll be what's considered my active rest day. Let me head off—I've also got a photo shoot late tonight for a new product that'll be coming out. I can't tell you much about it, but you'll be hearing a lot about it soon. Very exciting news. So, you'll definitely enjoy it, and it'll definitely help you meet your goals.

So have a good Sunday guys. For those of you who haven't checked out my Train with Jim series, again—completely free, my personal workouts. You get to follow the workouts that I'm doing every day while you're learning these techniques that I switch up, so that you learn—you can apply—so you're growing with me, getting results with me, you're learning with me, and by the way—each week if you post either your photos doing these workouts or your videos, the way I do, post them to the JYM Army Facebook group page or your Instagram—use hashtag #TrainWithJim—and I watch.

I'm watching, and each week I'm picking one winner who shows they're best keeping up with me, shows that they're best showing—proving—their accountability to these workouts. That's why I post them online for you guys, so I prove, "Yep, completed Workout number 1." Not just told you I completed Workout number 1, but you can actually see me do Workout 1, or at least part of those exercises. That's my way of showing accountability, which is critical if you want to stay consistent with your results—consistency is really key, so having somebody that you have to be accountability to for your workouts, other than yourself—because you can lie to yourself, "Oh I didn't feel well today...take it easy, Jim. It's okay you missed today's workout..." No, you need someone else to say, "Eff that, get your ass in the gym. 'Oh you don't feel good today, oh you're a little under the weather', oh too bad. Just knock down your intensity, but get in the gym and keep that consistency up." It's critical.

And so I use you guys—the JYM Army—to show who I'm accountable to. And that's why I do this Train with Jim series, to not only teach you these new training techniques and what I'm doing, but to hold myself accountable so that I never ever miss a workout. Never. So, you can do the same—I'll hold you guys accountable, and I'll reward you guys with free JYM Supplements. I typically switch week to week between a JYM System—which is Pre JYM, Post JYM, and Pro JYM; all flavors of your choice, you pick those out and I'll send them to you—or my JYM Support Stack—which is the Vita JYM, ZMA JYM, and Omega JYM; you're getting in those critical micronutrients that you need to support your muscle mass gains, to support strength gains, to support fat loss. Those micronutrients are critical cofactors in many metabolic processes that end up creating muscle growth, strength, and enhancing fat loss.

Train with me guys. Train with Jim, learn with Jim, grow with Jim, win with Jim—however you want to say it. It's my Train with Jim series. Hope you guys are enjoying these live tutorials as well as the live workouts that I do. Some of the workouts in the Train with Jim I actually shoot live. For those of you who are doing my Ripped in 6 Challenge: Remember, you've only got a couple days—November 15th—is the last day to sign up for my Ripped in 6 Challenge.

What's great about the Ripped in 6 Challenge is, like I said—it starts at the beginning of the Train with Jim series, with 4-Minute Muscle. So you get to walk through—it sort of introduces you to the Train with Jim series, and the challenge grand prize: You come out to LA—hang out with me; train with me; we'll eat donuts, sushi, or other fun food, whatever you like. We'll have a lot of fun. And then that'll get you jumping into my Train with Jim series, then after you've finished the Ripped in 6 Challenge you could pick it up anywhere that I am or go back in time to what was the next intensity technique after your Ripped in 6 Challenge, because it's all at JimStoppani.com.

Alright guys, have a great Sunday. Make sure that you're staying active even if it's your rest day, and you're always paying forward. And by paying it forward I just mean sharing the knowledge that you've learned—the information that you've learned—with others, to hopefully help them change their lives the way that my information—my training programs, my JYM products—have helped to change your lives. So pay it forward guys. Fitness—it's the reason why you look so good, you feel so good; why everyone is envious of you. So share it. Share that secret with everyone, the fitness lifestyle. There's no better way to live. Alright, guys, I will see you soon. Check back during the week for more live sessions, and as always, stay JYM Army Strong. See you guys.


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