Exercise and Periodization: The Phase Combination Approach

Phase Combination

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One of the most exciting techniques in periodization is called phase combination. Just as a key unlocks a door, combining different phases of training can unlock tremendous gains. If you've been following the periodization articles found in our huge online resource article library over the past few months, you've already learned how to figure load percentages to design your own phases. So far, however, the program has concentrated on phases that work your entire body. Thus, the Maximum Strength phase was designed to increase your total strength on all of your exercises, and during that phase you work on developing your overall mass, while the Mass Refinement phase helps you get your entire body ripped.

Now, suppose you're relatively happy with your leg mass but you'd like to improve your leg strength. At the same time you also want to add mass to your chest. This means you need to combine phases so you can achieve the effect you're looking for without sacrificing previous gains. You need to follow a Maximum Mass phase for your chest and a Maximum Strength phase for your legs. This technique is very demanding, and only intermediate and advanced bodybuilders should try it.

The key here is knowing how to use the step system. On a periodization program you increase your weight loads, or training intensity, in some weeks and in others you decrease them. The heavier loads stress your body and cause it to adapt. The lower work-loads let you recover. When you combine phases, you must be sure to match workload weeks. You need to decrease or increase loads simultaneously for both of the phases your' following. You can combine various routines from the following phases: Growth Activation, which is designed to trigger muscle growth; Maximum Strength, which increases nerve-to-muscle input for increased strength levels while adding density; Maximum Mass, which packs on size; Mass Refinement, which improves muscle definition; and Maintenance, which sustains the gains you made during other phases.

It's also important to use the right rest intervals. Thus, if you're on a Growth Activation phase for your tack, you may need to rest 1 1/2 to two minutes between sets, while the Maximum Mass phase you're using for another bodypart requires three minutes' rest between sets four and five. If you follow a phase-combination program, don't get carried away. Don't try to use six different phases for each bodypart at the same time. Choose the areas you want to work on, and then carefully plan how and when you want to incorporate this approach. Remember the essential aspect of periodization -your annual plan.

You'll be lost by the second week without it. Like any other dynamic training approach, from Mike Mentzer's Heavy Duty to Steve Holman's Positions of Flexion, you need to understand the basic tenets of the system. Stay within the rules and you'll be fine. Abuse them, and you'll lose muscle.

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