As a professional bodybuilder, it is important to me to take the constructive (and sometimes not so constructive) criticisms and feedback from judges and continue to make progress. In early 2012, the bottom line was, I needed more muscle mass. So, I started a periodization program. The fruit of my new and intense training regime contributed to a stellar winning streak during the 2013 season, in which I won 4 of 6 competitions. It was an honor to represent a plant-based lifestyle and set a world record as a natural professional vegan bodybuilder in a sport that is not convinced that plant protein can produce the amount of muscle needed to be successful.
Periodization is the act of changing up your training program at regular intervals, or “periods”, to keep your body working harder, while still giving it adequate rest. There are many different types of periodized training. Some are geared more toward the strength, power and demands of a specific sport. Usually these periods are 12 weeks in length and range in reps, sets and exercises. In addition, periodization training typically incorporates what is commonly known as “The Big 3”: the Bench press, the Squat, and the Deadlift.
My program consisted mostly of two different periodization methods (undulating and linear), in which I would do reps as low as 3 and as high as 25. The undulating method changes the volume and intensity of the weight training stimulus, but not in a linear pattern. The linear method progressively increases intensity and decreases volume. I enjoy these two methods because it “tricks” my muscles and nervous system, not allowing my body time to adjust or plateau. Jim Morris once said to me, “Put the muscle under stress, and it has no other choice but to get stronger.” In other words (mine), “let's change up the plan”.
Although I seem to have a fast muscle repair or recovery time, it is vital to pay attention to your body. Adequate rest for my body may be only 24 hours, yet for another person it may be 48-72 hours. Giving your muscles the time they need to recover is instrumental in building healthy and strong tendons, joints, and muscles. The initial portion of a periodization program tends to be a preparation phase in which low reps prep the tendons and joints for the heavier reps to come. Whether a linear or undulating method or cycle, it should take about 4 weeks to complete one cycle. Then the cycle can be repeated 2 more times within one periodization program.
To effectively gain muscle mass, it's important to regularly incorporate these periodization trainings in order to stimulate new muscle growth; shock the body into growing and getting stronger. This type of randomized and calculated stimulation causes growth hormones to be released and creates an environment conducive to muscle gain. Since there are more than just the two methods mentioned, another method or another round of the same periodization program can be initiated at the end of the 12 week cycle. So, go hit the gym next time with a periodization plan in hand, and represent plant-based life with those big gains. Let's Get It!!!