Linear Periodization vs. Reverse Linear Periodization
Understanding Training Cycles for Maximum Strength and Size Gains
(This is not the entire article...follow the linked title for more)
The golden key that opens doors to ongoing progress is the cycling of repetition and load. Let me expand upon this point, because itís a piece of training wisdom that you need to remember:
To maximize size and strength gains, a trainee needs to cycle from lower weight and higher reps, to heavier weight loads and lower reps.
Got that? Confused? To better understand the relationship between repetitions and load, letís look at a recent study.
Repetitions vs. Load. In Comparison of linear and reverse linear periodization effects on maximal strength and body composition, researchers in Brazil compared the following 2 training patterns:
LP (Linear Periodization) - Decreasing repetitions while increasing load over the course of a training cycle.
RLP (Reverse Linear Periodization) - Decreasing load while increasing repetitions over the course of a training cycle.
Over a 12 week period, a LP study group cycled down from lighter weights and higher reps, to heavier loads and low reps. The RLP did the oppositeÖthey began with heavy loads and low reps, and cycled to lighter weight and high reps. The rep range parameter for this study was 4-14.
Changes in load and repetitions were performed in microcycles, meaning that the LP group occasionally took a step back and decreased weight. Similarly, the RLP group occasionally took a step back and increased weight.
The results of the study? Both groups got stronger, but the LP group experienced noticeably greater upper body strength gains. Also, the LP group gained muscle mass and lost fat, while the RLP group did NOT gain any muscle.
Linear Periodization was the hands down winner in this study, resulting in greater muscle mass and strength gains.
Bodybuilding and RLP. We now see that the change required by the body to insure consistent gains in size and strength is not always due to a specific training program. In fact, most bodybuilding programs are set up in micro-RLP format. Lifters will push for more repetitions with a given weight, and once they hit a given rep ceiling, will increase the weight and repeat the cycle.
For example, Johnny Gymrat is currently squatting 225 pounds for 5 reps. Over the course of the next month, Johnny trains hard, and is now able to knock out 12 reps with 225 pounds. The next time in the gym, he bumps the weight up to 245 pounds and hammers out 5 reps. Over time, Johnny Gymrat is eventually able to squat 245 x 12 reps. He continues to repeat this RLP cycle ad nauseum.
Of course, we canít pretend that Johnny isnít making some mass gains. To interpret the results of the study as implying that muscle mass gains are impossible without LP training would be foolish. But itís obvious that linear periodization acts like an amplifier; it leads to a greater degree of strength and muscle using the same average repetitions and load over a given period of time.
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