When to Change Up the Program: Periodization

Good morning!

Wait, actually it’s pretty much nighttime as I write this. Of course I had an amazing sleep the other night, because last night (err tonight?) I tossed and turned until 4:00 in the morning, and finally called it quits. Lucky for me, I have a fairly easy day schedule-wise, so I decided to get some work done now – and publish this post (and pin an incessant amount of paleo and gluten-free desserts that I want to try…ahem) with my online clients, and then I can nap later Winking smile

For now, I’ll just power through and enjoy a nice little 5:00 a.m. breakfast!


This picture was actually from yesterday – as there’s absolutely no natural light right now that I could have taken that picture. But I’m having the same thing, minus the plain yogurt, plus coconut butter. I’m also sipping from my new Aries mug (which was in my care package from Florida –yay!)

Anyway, I think I’ve just got a lot on my mind lately, which I kind of unloaded to Kim about last night.

Speaking of – I had the pleasure of meeting up with Kim last night at this amazing martini bar and restaurant here in town. She and her husband go there religiously, so she introduced me to all the goodness that it had to offer. I didn’t even think to snap a single picture – we were literally chatter boxing it up the entire time – loveSmile) but I had an incredibly delicious (and incredibly dangerous) gin martini, we shared the most succulent plate of mussels and chorizo I’ve ever had, and the best part – I had the company of the lovely Kim. We spent a couple hours talking about Colorado, our histories, and well, beer. Kim and her husband know so much about beer, and she was able to tell me all everything I needed to know about the local breweries. Lots of fun Smile  Kim, we need to have a brewery date asap!

Then I came home worked on some training plans, and mindlessly (oops) munched on trail mix for the remainder of the night.


Can’t get enough of those dried cherries!

So today I want to talk about something that every solid resistance training program should have.  A few months ago, several of clients signed up at the same time. This means that, with a week or so variance, I’m creating several new programs for these clients every 4-5 weeks, or utilizing…


Whether I’m training a client online, in person – and in my own training – I make sure to write a new program before the body is fully adapted to the current workout program. This is to keep the body stimulated and to avoid plateaus. What may have been working excellently for the past few weeks, might not be working so great now. In reality, the body is just doing its job of adapting to the stress that’s been put on it.


So now what?

Now it needs new stressors, or a new challenge or stimulus – through periodization. Through periodization, we change the training program to keep the body working hard.

How can you change the workout stimulus?

There are numerous criteria one can change in a fitness routine in order to place a new stimulus on the body. These criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • Rep range
  • Volume
  • Tempo
  • Exercises
  • Resistance
  • Rest periods
  • Exercise format, or order

By changing the criteria of the resistance training program through periodization, individuals will see greater results toward their goals. In fact, studies show that utilizing periodization produced double the results in % body fat loss, lean muscle gained, leg press strength increase, and bench press strength increase. That is reason enough to switch up the program you’re on every so often (but not too often.)

(ACE’s Integrated Fitness Training model)

Additionally, periodization keeps the workouts fresh, fun, and goal-oriented. Most importantly, it keeps boredom at bay.

When most people think of periodization, and switching up the program, they automatically think about resistance training. But it’s also important to periodize your cardiovascular workouts for the same reasons – to put a new stimulus on your body, so that it’s able to keep being challenge and progressing.

For example, if you’ve been using the treadmill for speed intervals for the past couple of months, it might be time to start incorporating some hills through incline. Or perhaps switching over to the stair climber for a new workout altogether.

So, when should you periodize your workouts?

Well, there’s really no one definitive answer here. Depending on your program, how your body specifically reacts – and adapts- to that program, and doing regular assessments can help determine this. However, periodization can be every 4-5 weeks, and up to every 12 weeks.

For my clients (both online and in the gym,) I typically do check-ins or assessments every 4-5 weeks. Then I determine if it’s time to switch programs, and the client usually is. For example, if they started on an anatomical adaptation program, after 4-5 weeks it might be time to switch to a strength program, and then an endurance program, and so on!

I’ll go ahead and stop there, because it just gets more confusing from here on out, and I don’t want to lose any of you guys from boredom Winking smile

Oh, and perfect timing! It looks like the sun is beginning to make it’s way over to this side of the country, haha. But before I go, several readers have taken advantage of the January promotions I’m running for online personal training. Just a reminder that you can still take advantage of one of the four promotions I’m running (listed HERE) until January 14th!


Do you follow a program when you workout?

If so, how often do you switch up your program?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. I don’t follow a plan per say and I really should. I haven’t kicked my workouts up a notch in months and it’s about time! Thanks for the reminder :)
    Erica { EricaDHouse.com } recently posted..Get Your Active On with Old NavyMy Profile

  2. Running has taken a toll on my knees and IT band so I’m hoping to get in some swimming in the next few months. It feels so good to work the body in a different way after all that pounding. Great post!

  3. I definitely follow programs…I know I get a much better workout in when I have it written out for me exactly what I’m going to be doing. My current program switches up every 4 weeks, which seems to be working well for me.
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted..Intermittent Fasting? Not On Board.My Profile

  4. I want to make everything on your Paleo board now! Pinterest is dangerous!
    Danielle (@CleanFoodCreativeFitness) recently posted..Skinny LegsMy Profile

  5. I used to change programs every eight weeks but now it’s every four. I’m going to increase to six weeks, as four weeks isn’t enough for me!
    Tara @ Sweat like a Pig recently posted..Improving grip strengthMy Profile

  6. I do this exact thing for my clients, but for me, I go back and forth between planning a program and not. Since it’s a career now, sometimes I need the go with the flow, but right now I’m really loving having a goal and working through a plan.
    Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) recently posted..Friday Fodder!My Profile

  7. I haven’t done a program per se since LiveFit. Instead I do mostly classes and keep it varied in hopes I’m challenging my muscles in new ways constantly, but I just wing it so who knows if it’s working :)
    Kacy recently posted..Comment on #WeVerb12 [HOPE] Just Write by 35 Blogs for Those that Aspire to Become Writers | Longhorn Leads, LLCMy Profile

  8. I had a blast at Martini’s! Can’t wait to show you around town. We plan out our goals for the week but it’s pretty loose. Really looking to start setting up something a little more definite.
    Kim @ Wonderings recently posted..BHBC Presents: The Willpower InstinctMy Profile

    • AMEN!!!!!! Alex that is the lecture that needs to be given to the whole glofing world! Only with hard work and determination can the average golfer expand his game, young and old! It sure has helped my game and im sure its helped others. Keep up the great work!

  9. AHHH! I wish I lived closer so I could have been there! I need some Colorado girlfriends…desperately! Can we have a repeat of that on a weekend please :)
    Natalie recently posted..Beet RedMy Profile

  10. I’m a total spaz when it comes to figuring out my own strength workouts, so I usually follow a program (Jillian Michaels video or similar) for a month or more, then switch to a different program when I get bored or want to try something new. I’ve never paid as much attention to cardio though, and I really should. I generally just do what I feel like doing that day (elliptical or treadmill/outdoor run). I should mix things up more!
    Meghan @ After the Ivy League recently posted..Thursday ThoughtsMy Profile

  11. Hi, I absolutely adore your blog and would love to ask you questions about food and stuff. Do you or have you ever counted calories /? I am very limited in exercise/activity because normally I am only a walker, but since I live in a place where snowstorms occur every 2 days (literally, home-bound storms atrocious) I have days of just…sitting. You’d think I could exercise, BUT I can’t. Live in a box of an apartment with a very older lady who would freak out any kinda noise. So….in meantime, I eat because I have an “emotional” attachment to food. Seriously. Added to this is that I have very bad digestive issues…I believe I need to try out an elimination diet, but very unsure. I am curretnly “kind” of eating paleo…not really, but kindof. And STILL feel like crap. I heard of this book “The Plan” that makes sense and about a 2 day detox type of regime, etc. My goals? Not to lose weight, but to be healthy and not gain “fat” weight. So how do I do this in this situation….what matters most? : calories in and out (how much does one need to SIT all day cause I’m there , but I’m eating things out of control admittedly) , or the foods eaten, or the exercise. I’m so worried and tired of this kind of cycle. Thanks for any emails to me. SUPER appreciated. YUMMY food.

  12. Aaahhh I love that you wrote about this topic, I feel like it’s so important and never discussed for some reason. I signed up for a fitness program with a sports performance facility where I live (where Allyson Felix trained, so I know its legit!) and my strength program was based on periodization principals, plus a similar program for running (using heart rate training). In a nutshell, my workouts were cut in half time-wise, but somehow I kept losing weight. It totally works!

Leave a Comment


CommentLuv badge