Understanding Western Periodization

By Jeremy DuVall, CPT Men’s Fitness


Google the words ‘strength training program’ and you’ll get over 30 million different results, each one promising to be the ultimate program to make you stronger, faster, and leaner than the next. With so many training protocols out there, it’s hard to separate the strength-builders from the time-wasters. In this series, we break down some of the top programs and lay out the foundations of their success.


It’s important to note that each program has its own specific benefit. One approach isn’t perfect for everyone. Choose the one that most closely resembles your own needs and goals. However, each program does include one element – consistency. Program hopping (switch programs every week) is one of the biggest mistakes a lifter can make.


No matter what program you choose, stick with it for at least a few months before ditching it in favor of a different regimen. This week, we’ll take a look at the Western Periodization method.


Method: Western Periodization




The Western periodization model, also referred to as linear periodization, has become very popular over the past few decades as a consistent method of preparing athletes for competition. This approach consists of different training cycles commonly referred to as micro, meso, and macrocycles. A microcycle could be as short as a week to 10 days. A mesocycle incorporates several microcycles and usually lasts four to six weeks. A macrocycle encompasses both of the smaller blocks and can last anywhere from six months to four years.


The model incorporates several different phases of training depending on the goal. During each phase, which usually lasts one mesocycle, the training is focused on one particular goal. For instance, during a hypertrophy phase, the main focus is on gaining size. Strength and power step into the background. The typical progression in a Western program would start with hypertrophy, then move to strength, then power, and finally commence with a peaking phase. During the peaking phase, the athlete is primed for competition or has hit peak performance in their goal attribute.


Common critics of this workout model are quick to point out that it only focuses on one training aspect at a time. For instance, your strength numbers will fall during the hypertrophy phase whereas you’ll lose size during the strength phase. However, this approach can lead to a well-rounded physique since all elements are addressed for a longer period of time.




With a consistent method of progression, the Western periodization model ensures that your workouts are consistently changing and challenging your body in new ways. This approach promises a well-rounded level of fitness incorporating strength, size, and power.


Sample workout:


Hypertrophy Phase – Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

1. Barbell Incline Bench Press 4×10

2. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4×10

3. Dips 4×10

4A. Cable Chest Fly 3×12

4B. Lateral Raise 3×12

5A. Rope Tricep Extensions 3×12

5B. Push-ups 3xAMAP


Source: http://www.mensfitness.com/training/…-periodization


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