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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  • AidenBloodaxe on

    I’ve never actively wanted to split my training into lots of sessions, but whilst at college I had an hour or something break between lessons, so I would do my squat & bench volume, go back to class and then return afterwards to deadlift heavy. Luckily at the time I had very little responsibilities because lifting, learning and the essential bodily functions were all I had energy for once all was said & done.
    Progressing my squat from 315 to 405 × 5 × 5, my lunch soon became merely a squat workout with bench volume and heavy deadlifts to occupy my second session. I remember once reading most of Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince between sets during a squat volume session(which as it turns out was a waste of time because I don’t remember a thing of it). I had about 4 hours between session one and two, the 3 mile walks home at 7pm with a drained brain and body wasn’t great. It is no wonder that I adhered to the GOMAD / eat everything in site dietary philosophy; I needed the energy.
    I’ve also been through phases of training with in a coveted weight room in the back of a mosque 3 times a week from 6-7pm on top of my usual routine because it meant training with a handful of powerlifters I know, since there was only an hour and about 5 of us we’d just warm-up, do a heavy triple(on all 3 lifts & also some bizzare lift) and go, every Monday, Wednesday & Friday. I could never keep this up for more than a couple of weeks.

    I’ve never periodised my training beyond Powerlifting-mode & Bodybuilding-mode with a back-off week when I’m totally pooped(which used to be seldom), but these days I’m starting to feel it’s necessary. The Non-training periodisation is a very excellent and exciting idea too. I love the direction your periodisation philosophy is going.

  • AidenBloodaxe on

    Oh, also: “once you finish something like writing a book or earning a college degree, you don’t have to do anything at all anymore.”

    This is a great point in the possibility of detrimental decay, whilst these are certainly applaudible milestones, that college-knowledge may soon atrophy if one doesn’t heed the need for maintenance as is suggested here, I think we’ve all seen, experienced or heard of people forgetting key concepts or details several weeks after an exam.

    But Of course, if you don’t need it, don’t hold on to it.

  • Josiah on

    Quick question: Do you squat in squatting shoes, or flat footed?

  • Jon Call on


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