What is Western periodization?
Western periodization is a linear progression from high to low reps. Every week the lifter is adding weight to the bar while reducing the number of reps per set. Over the course of 8-12 weeks, the lifter builds up to a single. This is one of the most generic forms of periodization there is.
Many American lifters have relied on this system. The most notable children of Western periodization are Ed Coan and Kirk Karwoski. However, at the time, all powerlifters were following a similar schedule.
Were they on juice? Sure. You can’t break world records as a natural. However, the system works for naturals too, although you can’t expect results similar to those of the enhanced lifters.
The gradual progression and the built-in cycling mechanism are the engines of the system. You are adding weight to the bar each week (stimulus) while providing the body with enough time to recover (recuperation). Eventually, you reach a wall (peak), and “
You are adding weight to the bar each week (stimulus) while providing the body with enough time to recover (recuperation). Eventually, you reach a wall (peak). Thereupon, you deload and build back up again.
Why is this method better than Sheiko, the Bulgarian method….etc?
Similar programming is more practical for the average natural bodybuilder who does not have the time to be in the gym every day for a few hours as required by Sheiko, Smolov or the so-called Bulgarian training method.
If I can get my squat from 225lbs to 315lbs by squatting heavy only once a week, why would I kill myself by maxing out every day when I am not a professional lifter? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Of course, more work will result in faster progress, but in the long run, the end results will be fairly similar.
Can you give me a hypothetical training cycle?
Below is an example deadlift program based on Western Periodization.
First, choose a weight that you can lift comfortably for 10 reps.
If you are 315lbs deadlifter, 225lbs is a good starting point.
Note: Since this is a deadlift routine, I will use 10lbs jumps. Other exercises may require smaller jumps – 5lbs or less.
Week 1: 225×10
Week 2: 235×8-10
Week 3: 245×8
Week 4: 255×5
Week 5: 265×5
Week 6: 275×5
Week 7: 285×3-5
Week 8: 295×3
Week 9: 305×3
Week 10: 315×3
Week 11: 325×2-3
End of the cycle. Start a new one with 235 pounds.
How long does an effective training cycle last?
In most cases, you will need about 8 weeks to get stronger, but in some situations, you can have success with much shorter cycles 4-6 weeks.
However, eventually, you will need longer cycle 9-12 weeks to build momentum and make gains. For more on training cycles, consult this post.