Periodize your life

lifehacks mindset periodization winter

Ever had the idea that you could just take whatever your training routine is and do the work throughout the day instead of all at once in a single session? I'm sure we've all had that idea. Why have a training session at all? Why not just spread your work evenly throughout the day, a set here and there?

It doesn't work. Movement patterns, Pee squat drink, being more active in general and grease the groove aside, what if my training session is to do 5 singles of my deadlift max? For me that would be around 600 lbs. How feasible is it for me to do a 600 lb deadlift rep here and there throughout the day? Seriously?! To get this work done, I need to get warmed up, get in the zone, do them all at once, and stop before burning out. The only option I have is an hour of deadlifting.


So that's my argument for consolidating your work into sessions and not being a retard who splits up their training routine throughout the day. This is especially important for tricking. Nobody throws their best tricks or lands new ones when they're not in the zone during a tricking session! And it's important for building muscle too, because breaking the tissue down is the stimulus for growth. The only way to break it down is prolonged annihilation: you need the muscle to be bombarded continuously for about an hour until it's pumped and exhausted, then your body is convinced it might be a good idea to adapt to this stress by partitioning nutrients into the muscle to get bigger and stronger. You can't just do a set here and there throughout the day, it's bullshit. The body doesn't care about this, you're merely using the muscle you have, you aren't breaking it down for later adaptation. Have training sessions. Get in, get out, get a life. Now look at the big picture: training season:

Ever had the idea that you could just do your training throughout a year? Why have a training season at all? Why not just spread your work evenly throughout the year, a session here and there? Well...?


Sounds familiar.

Enter Periodization

With Periodization, instead of doing the same amounts of everything all of the time, you instead do more of some things and less of other things, and you periodically change what it is you are doing more or less of some times. Those periodic changes are often grouped into seasons... or blocks. Why Periodization blocks?

Why Periodization blocks?

The fact that it's much, much, much harder to get something for the first time, than it is to keep it or get it back if you've lost it, is why we use periodization blocks in the first place. With a periodization block, basically you stop doing some things so you can redirect your time, energy and will on making gains in a particular something else, the block is long enough so you can get into the zone to accomplish it and make meaningful progress.

If you want something that takes a lot of effort, you need to hit it consistently until you have it. Isolated practice sessions and half-baked interest over the course of any amount of time will do nothing: you must have consecutive work sessions for an entire season or a consecutive block of time. Achieving anything worth a fuck comes with a price: other things must be neglected and inevitably decay. But with Periodization, that decay is temporary: you cycle things in and out and get what was once neglected back.

Again: it is much, much, much harder to get something for the first time, than it is to keep it or get it back if you've lost it. Getting neglected things that you lost back is not that hard. For many physical skills, like muscle, strength, speed, tricks... possibly a 4:1 ratio of

Work to attain : Work to maintain or regain


It can be that drastic. But some things need even less maintenance than that!

examples: once you master learning to drive a car, ride a bicycle, rollerblade, type on a computer keyboard, use keyboard shortcuts, speak a language; backflip, deadlift, do the splits properly, etc: you never forget. If you don't do them for awhile you may be a bit rusty, sure, but you can get them back very quickly if you've once mastered them. Ultimately, if you've ever put in the time to master something, the capability becomes seemingly permanent or needs minimal maintenance.

 But not everything you could get would need maintenance.

examples: once you finish something like writing a book or earning a college degree, you don't have to do anything at all anymore. You just get payed as long as people buy the book, and you can put down you have a college education on any resume you make in the future forever more. Permanent progress.

That's why I think Periodization is so damn cool: it takes advantage of the possibility of leveraging permanent, or seemingly permanent progress so that you can work on achieving other things. It's not only a great way to manage your training, but also holds promise for use in non-training pursuits. To start periodizing whatever you do, look at your priorities.

Periodize your priorities into blocks

Not everything you want is demanding enough for its own periodization block, some things are too easy. But some projects and goals are perfect for periodization blocks; for those, your key question is this one:

"If this was the only thing you did, how would you organize your life to accomplish it?"

Here's how you do that: take out everything else you do, socializing, training, a regard for healthy eating, cleaning, hobbying, everything! This frees up your time, energy, and will power to maximize your chances of accomplishing this. Then get into the zone and start working on it! When you start, you go ahead and add some things you took out back in one at a time making sure they don't disturb your primary focus. Don't do it the other way around, by subtracting things one at a time. Think of a hoarder.


How do you clean a house like this? Consider every item one at a time and make a decision whether to keep it or not? Oh my god no! You dump it all on the lawn, you get a couple boxes, and you consider only what you will keep. What doesn't fit in the boxes is discarded. So you remove everything first and then you add back in. You're essentially doing this with your life priorities while you focus on something in particular during a periodization block.

Periodization block length

So how long should your block be? Just guess. Extend the block if you're still making hot progress. Perhaps an additional week? Sure, but you can't extend it forever, at a certain point you will...

  • Burn out, lose interest, and reach the point of diminishing returns

For training blocks in particular, that's what a back off week is for. You just chill for a bit and then continue when your mental and physical reserves are refreshed, after about 5-10 days typically. Possibly with minor changes in your approach thereafter to pique interest and make use of the phenomena of carryover. Oh yeah. Carryover!

Periodization sequencing and carryover

Please keep in mind the reality of carryover (cross reference) that comes with achieving benchmarks in seemingly unrelated activities. I described this in my write up on the No Season for trainers in specific:
Training is not your life. Training can become the most important thing in your life, sure, but you still have to cook, eat, poop, sleep, get educated, earn money, run errands, shop, travel, write and read, e-mail, google something, clean, organize, find a place to live, maintain your living environment, find a mate, have friends and family, fix broken things, capture pokemon. Collectively, all of these things and more constitute your training support system.

Improving these other things improves your training support system which will improve your training. Sometimes dramatically...

Basically if you're always fucked from training fatigue, everything else you could work on that would benefit your training, gets left out in the cold.

My CNS is fried. Fuck thinking. Fuck everything. I just want surf the web in a drowsy stupor.

I'm periodizing my life in 2015

For me, training is my priority. Simply put: it's what I do, it's why I exist. I periodize my training of Acrobolix (bodybuilding and tricking) in some way using the idea of Acrobolix Periodization. It works. And since it works, it makes sense to me to find ways to apply the principles and concept of Periodization to other areas of my life too. Now I'd like to share with you my little life periodization plan for this upcoming year 2015. By observing my process, possibly you will have some ideas of your own. Jujimufu's 2015 life periodization.

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  • Jon Call on

    Tibor when I read this, I can hear your voice in my head. You talk exactly like you speak, it’s uncanny haha! Thanks for the feedback!

    As far as multi-tasking, I prescribe to the saying that there is no such thing as “real” multi-tasking. What we think of as multi-tasking, is merely switching between single-tasks rapidly back and forth really fast. That being said, when I do this without outside distractions, I never have a problem switching back. So if I’m opening another tab and fall into the rabbit hole of the internet for a moment while I’m writing something, it’s easy to go right back to what I was doing… But if, for example, I’m working on something and the phone rings, someone asks me to “come here and look at this”, or I shit my pants, then that sort of “outside distraction” … requires me to take a moment to re calibrate and get back into the groove.

  • Jon Call on

    I’ve forgotten 90% of what I had learned in college. Especially the 100 something bones in a cat’s skull or whatever the fuck that was. But it doesn’t change the fact I can put down that I have a degree. Employers just want to see that you CAN learn, or jump through hoops, and aren’t stupid. Cynical as it is, degrees are expensive, so to a certain extent it’s a measure of affluence or “risk taking” behavior (risking some money to get a loan to pay for a degree for a job uncertain)… So basically it doesn’t matter if you don’t know jack anymore, you’ll pick it back up, or begin recollecting on day 1 at a new job. :-)

    Compare to earning a sporting title. Mr. Universe 1989 may not look like Mr. Universe 1989 anymore, but you can’t take that title away from him. It’s part of him forever after that and it means something.

  • AidenBloodaxe on

    Very true. I understand the employers / customers view-point, but I was considering a more personal stance in which important knowledge and skills are kept close at hand, this being a reflection of my own desires currently based on a life where I’m in charge of educating myself and gaining skills for entertainment or practical use.

    Maybe I’m placing too much value on maintaining these aspects, so as to avoid regaining them, but that’s because I think maintaining might require less effort in the long run, opposed regaining it.

  • Projekte, Ziele, Training, Lernen und Gewohnheit | dem Dobi sein Blog on

    […] usw. Und wenn gar nix mehr geht, weil man zu viele unverzichtbare Ziele gleichzeitig hat, muss halt periodisiert werden. Ein paar Wochen oder Monate lang kann man sich z.B. hauptsächlich der Musik und dem […]

  • Tibor on

    So, on a given day a guy suffers a certain degree of paralysis because he wants to eventually get x and y done, but he doesn’t want to forsake z because this is also an important goal, but then he remembers that would like to complete alpha, beta, gamma, and so on, and no matter what he does with his day, there is an infinite number of things he did NOT do, and this is discouraging to the poor schmuck who aims to complete a bunch of stuff but doesn’t like having to deal with opportunity cost.

    I don’t like having to deal with opportunity cost.

    I remember you once talked about this attainment/maintenance ratio, and as intuitive as this ought to be, when it came to weight training, I hadn’t thought it applied. Well, of course it applies, just as it does with anything else learned, so now the problem this schmuck faces is his own nebulously-defined priorities.

    Look, buddy, you might want to be a buff polyglot acrobat author musician magician cyclist bookworm, but it’s not going to happen spreading your days so thin that, in practicing all these things, none of them improves a lick. My room isn’t in total disarray, but I am a hobby hoarder. I have about 5 DOZEN books I’ve purchased and not yet read. For shame!

    Thoureau issued some advice: “Our lives are frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify”.
    Phooey. It’s time to narrow some shiz the eff down. Helpful article. I’ll try to capitalize on the concept.

    Congrats on nuptials. Be well.

    P.S. While I wrote the above, I was tempted to listen to an interview as I wrote. As part of this opportunity cost crap, and stemming from the fact that we have SO MUCH available to us to do and learn, we often want to multi-task, to keep as many tabs open as our browser can handle, and to get shit done, but there is a diminishing return on this, too, and while I might be able to practice legerdemain while watching a Ted talk, I suspect that even here I’m forfeiting quality in the name of quantity by failing to give my WHOLE attention to one thing, by widening my salience beyond its proper and warranted scope given the work at hand. Question: How much do you multi-task, and with what things? How cautious are you of the ill-effects of multi-tasking? Long post, oops.

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