Best way to eat an elephant? ... Small chunks.
Programming around plateaus.
A results plateau can often occur in any kind of training after 3 to 7 weeks as your body adapts to the overload of the specific routines you are doing. This is why its good to vary your training routines over time. With this in mind, you can use the knowledge that a performance dampening plateau will inevitably occur at some point strategically, by breaking down your end goal into smaller sub goals that put together will continue to acheive the results you are after.
Dividing your training into seperate goals.
Periodisation divides your overall training programme into periods that accomplish different goals which when brought together, efficiently achieve your overall end goal. Periodisation is particularly useful for athletes who need to build up to an event, such as a marathon or a triathlon, where they need to work on strength, VO2max, cardio ability, and endurance, as efficiently as they can in a progressive way that will align to give optimal performance on event day. It is also used by body builders who break up their routines into bulking stages, whereby they eat much more than usual to increase their muscle mass, followed by a cutting stage to get lean whereby they eat much less than usual with a higher percentage of protein to burn excess fat they may have picked up in the bulking phase. It is basically setting achievable sub goals to build towards an overall end goal. And this can be in terms of diet or the type and volume of the exercise you do.
Periodisation can also be a useful tool to avoid results plateaus for your workouts and keep your workouts efficient. Periodisation works by breaking your workout schedule down into 3 main components.
Small term rotation like a weekly cycle. You may have a microcycle that has you working out 6 days out of every 7.
Mid term rotation like a monthly cycle. You may have a mesocycle that has you doing the above microcycle, but in a different order, each week over a 4 week pattern.
Long term rotation like a yearly or seasonal cycle. You may have a macrocycle over a whole year that shows several different 4 week Mesocycle patterns, of either progressive intensity or of a different training focus, each potentially broken up themselves by a lower intensity recovery week in between.
Mix it up.
As a general rule, its good to adjust your training and mix it up a bit every 4 weeks or so, but if results are still coming there's certainly nothing wrong with keeping going until they are not. Theories don't cover all eventualities. To prevent plateaus it helps more, rather than a timescale, to be able to recognise the stages that your body will go through as it adapts to overload so you know when things are going well and when it's maybe time to mix things up a bit.
- The Alarm Stage.
Starting a new routine is know as the alarm stage as it brings initial shock to the system. Muscle inflammation and DOMS are a common occurrence in this stage. Noticeable gains, if any, are slow as your body attempts to adapt to the new overload.
- The Resistance Stage
The resistance stage is where your body adapts well and repairs fast showing excellent growth and performance gains.
- The Exhaustion Stage
In the exhaustion stage the gains from exercise lessen and results plateau either because your body has adapted too well to the workouts or you have over trained.
When you hear people talk of how important it is to mix things up a bit, this is to avoid the performance plateau from reaching the exhaustion stage, and to effectively keep your body in the resistance stage.
How to mix it up
You could plan your rotation periods depending on your goals and this could be done in many ways: Doing an active recovery week of a lighter or shorter duration routine before considerably upping the intensity or duration afterwards; Rotating set workout routines; Altering the balance of static cardio to HIIT to strength training in your week; Altering the balance of speed and strength training; Switching focus from speed to power training; Working the same muscles but in a different way; Switching diet and training style from cutting to burn fat, to bulking to gain body mass (or vice versa); Switching focus to skills training. It depends entirely on your end goals.
The 4 Minute Max Outs is the plateau busting workout.
One of the many benefits of The 4 Minute Max Outs is that not only are they are duel focused and modular so you can choose the focus and duration of workout best for you, but also that each pre designed 4 Minute Max Out Plan will be slightly different every time you do them. Different moves, and different orders will overload your body differntly each time to keep results coming in. Achieving the same goal by working out muscles in a different order or a different way, will utilise a wider array of muscle fibres, and effectively overload the same body parts in a different way, in every workout. This is a great tool for avoiding plateaus and to help keep results rolling in.
The 4 Minute Max Outs are duel focused and modular. This allows you to focus on either speed, strength, power, or mixtures of each, at the same time as which areas of the body should be targeted. So it is very easy to increase the length, variety, content, and focus of your workouts when you feel the time comes to switch things up a bit. Although The 4 Minute Max Outs requires no equipment, there are also Max Outs that can be done holding hand weights to increase the resistance in the exercises if required.
There are many pre designed 4 Minute Max Out Plans to use right out of the box to give you several different workouts of variety and focus and there is also the ability to construct your own custom Max Out workouts, quickly and easily, using the Max Out Mixer. As The 4 Minute Max Outs are modular by nature it means that you can also easily insert 4 Minute Max Outs into other training routines and schedules to inject a powerful HIIT kick into them, to add an additional burst of calorie burn, work different muscle fibres, and mix the usual routine up a bit for improved and continued results.