Training Phases For The Weekend Warrior: The Breakdown & Workouts!

The addition of planned training phases into your program is one of the big logical steps towards your goals. If implemented properly, it can super-speed your progress. Here's an in-depth look at phases used to skyrocket your fitness goals. Learn more.

Article Summary:
  • Training phases can be broken down into a multitude of categories.
  • Each phase is concerned with improving that aspect of the athlete.
  • You want each phase to lead into the next.
  • For me, it used to be 100% strength training 100% of the time. Strength, strength, strength. Strength, even if I had an existing problem that needed the use of other modes to be fixed.

    Only recently have I realized just how crucial training phases are to one's program. They draw spotlight to different aspects of training for strictly defined periods of time.

    This concept is especially dominant in sport specific training as if allows for altered focus as the athletes move from off-season to pre-season and then to in-season.

    Training phases can be broken down into a multitude of categories. Core, conditioning, hypertrophy, strength, power and peak are a few of the most common. As the names suggest, each phase is mainly concerned with improving that particular aspect of the athlete.

    Author, Andy Chasse: Only Recently Have I Realized Just How Crucial Training Phases Are To One's Program.
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Author, Andy Chasse: "Only Recently Have I Realized
    Just How Crucial Training Phases Are To One's Program."

    There should be several clearly defined goals that state exactly what the athlete should be gaining from this specific portion of the training. In addition, it may help to write an even more general set of emphasis statements to give a more basic idea of this phase's purpose.

    A pre-season block for a collegiate lacrosse team may look something like this:

      Major Emphasis:
      • General Endurance
      • Speed Endurance
      • Core
      • Skill

      Minor Emphasis:

      • Testing
      • Competition
      • Speed

    Goal: Increase overall work capacity and endurance levels, retain top speed for an increased duration, improve core strength necessary for phase II speed/power training.

    The emphases are broad, while the goals are a bit more specific. Not number crunching specific though, that's not the point here. We're not necessarily looking to hit certain numbers on certain exercises, but simply an increase in that area, be it 10 pounds or 100 pounds, 1 second or 10 seconds.

    Something important to notice: the last goal listed. It talks about building the strength necessary for the next phase. That's the other big concept here. You want each phase to lead into the next. All of your training builds off of itself. You want to meet the expectations of each phase to ensure that you are ready for the following.

    All Of Your Training Builds Off Of Itself.
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    All Of Your Training Builds Off Of Itself.

    The addition of planned training phases into your program is the one of the big logical steps toward your goals. If implemented properly, it can super-speed your progress.

    dot
    The Explanation
    dot

    Now that we've talked about what training phases are and how they can be used effectively, let's go into an explanation of each type of phase. There are a few staple phase focuses that you will see consistently showing up in programs.

    You non-competitive athletes don't need to worry too much about the power, peak or recovery phases. Don't even pay attention to them.

    The first four on that list are going to be used most often. Depending on your goals, you may not even have to worry much about the conditioning phase. For the competitive guys, you're probably going to want to pay attention to those last three. They're kind of a big deal, if you know what I'm saying.

    WHAT'S YOUR GOAL?
    What's Your Goal? What Is Your Goal?


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    Okay, so now we've got the phases listed. You're probably sitting there with a blank look on your face thinking ... "that's all fine and great, but what now?" Chill out for a second and breathe. It's actually easy. Keep reading.

    dot Core/Stabilization: dot

      This phase should be used if you are new to exercise or returning to exercise after a long hiatus. Don't dedicate much time to this area, unless you absolutely need it; maybe two weeks. All we're doing here is getting your core ready for the rest of the program and making sure you are injury-free.

    Workout Of The Week Workout Of The Week:
    Strengthen Core Stability.

    Strong core muscles are a standard "must have" for a great athlete's physique.
    [ Check Out The Workout Of The Week Here! ]

    dot Conditioning: dot

      The addition of this phase is up to you. Depending on your goals, you may or may not make use of it. This is generally a high volume period of training, both in the weight room and outside of it. You are building a solid foundation so you are better equipped to handle the rest of the program.

      Work during this phase may include high volume weights, circuit training, GPP (general physical preparedness), or whatever floats your pretty little boat. The focus may be aerobic or anaerobic. Either way, you're getting into some serious shape here. Utilize this phase in blocks of 4-6 weeks.

    This Is Generally A High Volume Period Of Training.
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    This Is Generally A High Volume Period Of Training.

    dot Hypertrophy: dot

      Moderate reps, moderate volume. Moderate amount of compound exercises, high amount of isolation exercises. You might spend up to 8 weeks in this phase.

    Muscle Hypertrophy:
    Muscle hypertrophy is a scientific term for the growth and increase of the size of muscle cells. It differs from muscle hyperplasia, which is the formation of new muscle cells.

    dot Strength: dot

      I understand if you didn't know what hypertrophy meant, but all of you better know what strength is. People are always talking about it. By the way, how much do you bench? Just kidding. Low reps, low volume. Plenty of recovery time. Heavy on the compounds.

      The phase that many of you were probably looking forward to the whole time. I won't lie ... I sure was. Depending on the length of the overall program, you may also spend up to 8 weeks here.

    RELATED VIDEO: COMPOUND VS ISOLATION


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    In this fourth episode, watch as IFPA/NGA Pro Natural Bodybuilder Layne Norton talks about his hybrid hypertrophy/powerbuilding workout (a high volume bodybuilder/powerlifter workout), and the differences between compound movements and isolation exercises.

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    dot Power: dot

      Everyone wants power, right? In this phase, everything you have developed in the previous phases is going to come together and allow you to make it through what will most likely be the highest intensity period of your program.

      We are focusing strongly on the athletic characteristics here. Speed, agility, and explosion. Mostly explosion. The purpose of this phase is to train you to react quickly and explosively. Don't spend longer than 4 weeks in the power phase. It can be extremely taxing on your body and the last thing you want this far into the program is an injury.

    dot Peak: dot

      This additional phase is most often seen in powerlifting and Olympic lifting. It is a period in which you are slowly increasing intensity and decreasing volume to allow your body to be at it's strongest come meet time. You may spend as little as 4 weeks peaking and as many as 12.

    This Additional Phase Is Most Often Seen In Powerlifting And Olympic Lifting.
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    This Additional Phase Is Most Often Seen
    In Powerlifting And Olympic Lifting.

    dot Recovery: dot

      This particular aspect is mostly utilized by competitive athletes. This may be the first post-season phase for a high school football team. It may also be used by a collegiate powerlifter after competing at Nationals. This is a time for your body to rest and get ready for the start of a new program. Some athletes dedicate as little as a single week for recovery, while others may spend up to 4.

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      See, not that difficult, right? So now you have it all explained. You should understand what most of that means, at least that's what I'm hoping. It is pretty easy to tell how each phase differs from the next and how one phase leads into another.

    dot
    The Design
    dot

    Okay, so now we've covered the use of the training phase and I've even given you an explanation of each particular phase. Now I think we might actually be ready to move on to the actual design of a training phase for the weekend warrior. I'm a big fan of that term so I will be using it often. Just ignore it and read instead "dedicated, non-competitive gym-goer."

    If you're reading this particular section, you're probably not a competitive athlete. Or maybe you are and you're just bored. Let's just assume you're not. Throw out power, peak and recovery. We're not even going to look at those just yet. So here's what we're dealing with then:

    Just four distinct phases. Not near as intimidating as the original seven, right? Good. So now comes the question ... "What exactly do we do with these four distinct phases that aren't near as intimidating as the original seven?"

    Again, take a deep breath and keep reading. First I'm going to go over the different types of exercises and training aspects that will be used and applied during each phase.

    dot Phase I: Core/Stabilization dot

      For the sake of my sanity, we're going to assume that you are not new to exercise and not coming back to exercise after a long hiatus. It's just easier this way. Let's just say that you are coming off of a two week break after the rather disappointing failure of your last program in which you focused 100% on strength and didn't yet understand what a training phase is.

      All of your work is going to be extremely light during this phase. Remember the last one we talked about, recovery? Yeah, this is very similar to recovery, but a little more intense. During this phase you're going to be performing some dynamic core exercises along with a tiny bit of pre-hab work for your problem areas.

    All Of Your Work Is Going To Be Extremely Light During This Phase.
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    All Of Your Work Is Going To Be
    Extremely Light During This Phase.

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    dot Phase II: Conditioning dot

      Okay, now we're getting into the real stuff. As I mentioned in the explanation, this phase may not be necessary, depending on your goals. That being said, I do strongly advise you to include some conditioning work. Let's assume you take my advice.

      We're going to spend 5 weeks in this phase. The goal here is to continue to improve core strength and to become conditioned both aerobically and anaerobically. We're jumping up to 4 days a week now.

        Day 1: Squat

        • Barbell Squat:
          • 3 sets of 12 reps - week 1 and 2
            3 sets of 10 reps - week 3 and 4
        • Sledgehammer Circuit: 3 sets, 2.5 minute rest
          • 30 seconds right arm
            30 seconds left arm
            30 seconds overhead
            30 seconds mountain climbers
            30 seconds burpees
        • Bleacher Runs

    Mountain Climbers Mountain Climbers
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Mountain Climbers.
    Video GuidesWindows Media - RealPlayer
    Note: Video Conatins Mountain Climbers And Power Jumps.

    Burpies Burpees
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Burpees (Shown With Dumbbells).
    Video Guide:
    Windows Media

    VIDEO GUIDE: BLEACHER RUNS


    Bleacher Runs!

    Click The Play Button To Start The Video.
    Or Download Here:
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    [ Video Main Page ]

    LOW INTENSITY PLYOMETRICS GUIDE

    ankle hops ankle hops
    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Ankle Jumps.

    Video Guide:
    Windows Media - MPEG

    tuck jumps tuck jumps
    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Tuck Jumps.
    Video: Windows Media - MPEG

    Split Lunge Jumps Split Lunge Jumps
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Lunge Jumps.
    Video GuidesWindows Media - Video iPod

    Crazy Jacks Crazy Jacks
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Jumping Jacks.
    Video GuidesWindows Media - Video iPod

      The above is a basic layout for the conditioning phase of your program. As you can tell, it is heavy on the core work (sledgehammer training, burpees, swings). Each day is also based on a movement rather than a muscle. I highly encourage you to train this way. The muscle split is an outdated philosophy. Start thinking about functional movements: push and pull.

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    Muslce
    Movement
    Depends On The Day

    dot Phase III: Hypertrophy dot

    dot Phase IV: Strength dot

      We're here ... the final frontier. Well, the last phase in the program ... same difference. Now that you've built some solid muscle, it's time to bring your lifts up to par. You probably look like you can move some serious weight now ... but maybe you really can't. Let's fix that.

    You Probably Look Like You Can Move Some Serious Weight Now.
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    You Probably Look Like You
    Can Move Some Serious Weight Now.

    dot
    Conclusion
    dot

    Congratulations Mr. or Mrs. Weekend Warrior! You've now made it through an entire training program, phases and all. It's a tough process, but you'll find that with the help of training phases to shift your focus to different aspects of the training, your progress will skyrocket.

    From here you have a couple of options. You can move on to a new program or move into another 4-week strength phase. Whatever you choose, just remember to stay with the phase mentality and you will continue to progress!