Braxton Gilbert Fitness

Time For Periodization


Periodization is defined as a systematic approach to athletic or physical training. Every athlete needs some type of periodization- whether it be a professional sportsman, avid gym goer, or just someone that likes to get up and move. Are you planning to train for a marathon in a year? In the next twelve months, you will have to break your workouts down into weekly, even daily schedules to complete your yearly goal. This is periodization. 


One of the many things I love about training, besides improving people’s quality of life, is the chess-like strategy it takes to train properly. I use the analogy of chess because it is a very complex game. It’s competitive, strategic, tactical, and requires you to think ahead. Like chess, training involves thinking ahead about injuries, goals, personality, current fitness level, and more. Let’s take a dive into how we can plan strategically to achieve our personal fitness goals and the principles we want to be mindful of when constructing our periodization.


Unfortunately, there are countless potential hindrances people may experience, but the good news is there is always a way to work around it. You could even potentially strengthen and heal that complication. Injuries such as a previously torn ACL, a bad lumbar back, or even type 1 diabetes are ALL things we can work around, just to name a few. Thankfully, since I’ve had the privilege to work with a lot of people, I’ve also had to manipulate angles, exercise selection, and even rep ranges to accommodate their weak spots. 


One client that comes to mind immediately is one of my favorite clients John, who is a prime example of overcoming physical obstacles to obtain his goals. John suffers patellar tendonitis, which essentially inflames his knees and makes activities like squats, deadlifts, jumps, runs, etc. difficult to do without pain. He even told me he avoided certain steps in his house because it stressed his knees out. So we adopted an intricate and well thought out approach to work around that obstacle; we did higher reps paired with lower weight for less stress on patellar joints, no high impact movements like runs or jumps, and neat variations of effective movements like squats, deadlifts, and lunges. We started training in mid-March and now, flash forward to mid-November, John’s squat has skyrocketed from 135 pounds to 300 pounds! Now, given that John is a hard worker who carefully follows instructions, this is still an incredible task for ANYONE. John no longer avoids those steps in his house and says he’s in the best shape he has been in over 15 years. By following specialized workouts over a set period of time, you can accomplish any goal, if you stick with it. John did, and so can you!

If you want to further your knowledge I recommend studying origins, insertions, muscles, biomechanics, physiology, and even our biology to better understand how to work around injuries and complications.


Now let’s talk about goals! Everybody has them- big or small. They may be losing 100 pounds, adding 20 pounds of muscle on your frame, or even just being able to touch your toes. There is no right or wrong goal, except one that is not yours. My clients ask me all the time, “Is this a good goal?” or “What should my goal be?”. I always answer with a chuckle and say my job is not to decide your personal goals but to get you there! If you are truly concerned about your goal, consult your doctor to make sure the goal is healthy for your body so as to not lead to further issues. One thing is for sure though, we want to make sure our periodization, nutrition, recovery, and more are all in line with our goals. We can’t expect to add 100 pounds to our back squat and train like a long-distance runner. We have to carefully decide the right exercise selection, exercise order, rep ranges, rest times, technique, and more. This topic is so extremely vast because goals can be anything important to you, so my general advice is always to do some research by reading textbooks and consulting trustworthy experts after deciding your goals. Oh yeah, and getting a trainer at BGF is probably your best option.


One of the many joys of being a human being is that we are all uniquely us. Although you may find someone similar to you, no one will ever be you. This brings me to the topic of personality. One of my favorite reads was a book called Relentless by Tim Grover. In the book, he discusses three types of people- coolers, closers, and cleaners. Now, although the book goes into great detail about the three personality types, I will just give a simple explanation of all three. Coolers are people who want to reach a goal but are not willing to sacrifice, take risks, or think outside the box. Closers are people who do work towards their goals but not with 110% effort every day. Cleaners do whatever it takes to get to their goal. I encourage you guys to explore which one most describes you and plan accordingly. If you are a “cooler” person, it is best to take a light approach towards your goals because an extreme one will not benefit you and may leave you feeling frustrated. If you are “closer”, make sure to continue to stay on top of the things you know you need to do daily to get from point A to point B. If you are “cleaner”, you don’t need a reminder you get after it by any means possible.


Lastly, is the philosophy of accepting ourselves in our current states. This doesn’t mean we are stuck here or have given up- quite frankly it means the opposite. When you can look in the mirror and fully accept responsibility for your life and current state then you have begun to move in the right direction. The first step to solving a problem is by acknowledging you have one, then devising a plan to work on it with the right support system. We can do this in the gym by starting off with the basics and taking baby steps with the intent of working one day at a time. It takes time and lots of hard work to see lasting change, so if we want to keep our success we need to love the process and not just the end result. If you can’t do a burpee, do a sprawl. If you can’t do a sprawl, do a half burpee. If you can’t do a half burpee, do an up down. The point is being out of shape or not ready is not an acceptable excuse, because the resources and methods are all around you, you just have to take action. After all, the journey of a million miles does begin with a single step.