A guide to training phases – how to change your workout to see real physical changes

Do you make the mistake of training the same way week in week out? Variation is not only the spice of life but when it comes to health and fitness it is paramount.

In the following article I will outline same strategies

– Why change exercise variables?

– What can I change?

– Phase training

– A recommended plan

Lack of variation can lead to:
– Injury through repetitive strain

– Performance/ progress plateaus due to lack of physiological adaptation

– Boredom from a lack of new stimulus

So what can and should I change in the exercise program?
Every 2 to 4 weeks depending on the frequency, intensity and your training experience, variables should be changed to enhance performance and limit the potential plateau.

Possible variables to change include:
1. Exercise type

2. Exercise order

3. Exercise duration

4. Speed of movement

5. Intensity

6. Number of repetitions (individual times performed)

7. Number of set (groups of repetitions)

Phase training

Phases are essential to progression as they provide the blueprint to achieving goals. There are many possible phases an individual can go through – it obviously depends on the desired outcome. The National Academy of Sports Medicine uses the following basic model: Stability -> strength -> power

In creating a fit, lean, balanced, functionally strong and mobile body I use the following phases:
– Stability involving necessary postural correction

– Strength

– Muscle Growth

– Fat burning

– Endurance

– Power

A possible plan:
The following will give you a very basic idea of how to change the routine because creating programs and periodisation is a real science. So for those who know this already I simply ask: are you currently implementing a structured plan of phases?

In regards to what exercises to use, you can either think of training muscle groups e.g. back, chest, legs, shoulders, biceps, triceps or movement patterns e.g. push, pull, twist, lunge, squat, bend; or better yet both.

Week 0-2 Stability (to correct posture and enhance core stability)

Week 3-5 Growth (increase fat burning potential through adding muscle)

Week 6-8 Strength (increase functional strength and fat burning potential works more of the fast twitch muscle fibres)

Week 9-11 Fat Burning circuits (as the name suggests)

Week 12-14 Endurance (works more of the slow twitch muscle fibres)

Week 15-17 Power (optional – I combine this into fat burning circuits)

Without a doubt one of the major reasons people fail in reaching their physical goals comes down to lack of preparation. However through careful planning using the principle of variation or phase training, plateau can be broken and dramatic results are again possible. For those who are new to these strategies I encourage you to implement the basic plan outlined. But unfortunately for the rest of you it may be a case of not implementing. If that is the case I challenge you now to get yourself a blank book, sit down and plan the next 12-16 weeks of your exercise regime using the principles of phases training. I guarantee it will add more drive to those workouts. Good luck!

Your 3d Coach
Craig Burton