As of late, I’ve started using the term weight loss instead of fat loss. First off, many of my clients are baby boomers so this resonates with them. Also, unless you’re a beginner, it’s nearly impossible to build muscle and burn fat at the same time. Thus, if you are losing body fat, you are losing weight. Therefore, you are going to see “weight loss” in here a lot more. Don’t worry, I promise I haven’t sold out! I just want better communication between myself and my readers.
First discovered in the eastern bloc and made popular by coach Tutor Bompa, inear periodization is a exercise programming technique in which variable loads are used for optimal performance throughout the training year instead of just focusing on one training quality. Typically, the same routine is followed for 4-6 weeks until a plateau in the program is apparent.
This technique is the gold standard in strength, power, and hypertrophy programs, but does it have a time and place in your fat loss program?
Here are 8 reasons linear periodization has no business being the best routine to lose weight and gain muscle.
1. Your heart rate doesn’t know what your body is doing
The goal of fat loss programs is to get your heart rate jacked up as high as you can. Since your heart rate doesn’t know what exercise your body is doing, it doesn’t really matter what your body is doing, only that it is working at a high intensity.
In linear periodization, a couple different exercises are key for building strength, hypertrophy, and endurance. But, in fat loss training, there are no key exercise, and further combinations of several exercises at once are used.
2. Heart Rate Variability
Heart rate variability is the new resting heart rate: it is an objective measurement to how your body is recovering. I believe heart rate variability (or HRV) is the future of training, because it will tell you if you’re ready to train hard or rest and recover.
Because there is so much volume of work in fat loss programs, you would be better off working on mobility and movement patterns rather than decreasing the overall volume of the program, which is what you would do during typical linear periodization.
In my experience, 90% of people can handle the intensity of strength and power training. About 5% can handle the intensity of cardio pain, especially during HIIT. There’s a large mental component to fat loss training, which is where I see the most amount of people just flat out quit in the middle of their set. I never see this in any other training.
Creating more variety and a better environment, will help battle the monotony of doing the same exact routine that ruined your life the week before, but with even more intensity than last time.
4. Augmented Feedback Tools
Augmented feedback tools such as timers, HRV, and heart rate monitors will give you a better idea if you’re progressing rather than if your weights, rest periods, and technique are improving.
5. Pattern Overload
Pattern overload is a theory in which the increase in volume with one pattern (exercise) will cause your body to break down. If you are doing the same exercise for 4-6 weeks with sometimes more than 100 reps per session, your body will break down.
This is why it’s imperative to frequently change out the exercise from week to week during your weight loss routine.
6. Metabolic Weight Loss Training Will Always Have a Time and Place in Your Routine
This is a quality you can train year round, and you’ll typically see metabolic weight loss training during your strength and hypertrophy programs as “fat loss finishers” done at the end of the program.
Metabolic training is a non-competing quality that will not hinder strength, power, and endurance, and in some cases actually help all of the aforementioned.
7. Excess Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)
This is kind of pigging back on the fact that the heart rate doesn’t know what the body is doing. As long as your getting your EPOC up thru a good program, it doesn’t matter if you use the same exact routine for 4-6 weeks.
I had a new client tell me the other day that he had been training for 3 weeks in a row without any break, and was seeing ZERO results.
Once he took a break for 2 days, he was able to see visible results in his definition and performance the next time he hit the gym.
Because fat loss training is so taxing on the body, recovery is not only much different but also more imperative to see the actual weight come off.
It’s not about linear increases and changing up training qualities throughout the year, rather it’s about being more in tune with your body during fat loss programs to find the best routine to lose weight and gain muscle.
Also, just because it’s not imperative to use linear periodization in your weight loss routine, you can still progress your work to rest intervals:
high work: high rest –> high work: low rest –> low work: high rest –> high work: high rest
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