Or do you switch it up every once in a while?
Frequently changing your exercise intensity and volume might be good idea, according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Elite athletes often periodize their training. This means that they vary variables like intensity and volume.
The goal of periodization is to optimize performance and recovery. Earlier research has shown that periodized training improves training adaptations.
A classic form of periodization is linear periodization.
In linear periodization, you structure your training in blocks. For example, a twelve week training program consists of 3 blocks of four weeks:
- first block: high reps
- second block: medium reps
- last block: low reps are trained
With this structure, intensity (weight) increases and volume (total reps) decreases during the program.
An alternative method is undulating periodization.
In undulating periodization, the intensity and volume are changed more frequently. For example, every workout trains a different rep range.
Researchers wanted to examine which periodization method is more effective.
They recruited forty men aged 18-25. The men had a minimum of one year strength training experience.
The subjects were divided in two groups:
- The first group trained with a linear periodization program.
- The second group training with an undulating periodization program.
The subjects trained 4 times a week for 12 weeks.
The training week was dived into training A (performed during sessions 1 and 3) and training B (performed during session 2 and 4).
See the figure below for a list of exercises performed during each training session.
The total intensity and volume of the training programs was equal for both groups. The difference between groups was the frequency of variation in training volume and intensity.
See the figure below for the structure of each program.
After twelve weeks of training, the researchers compared the increase in maximal strength between both groups.
The undulating group had slightly higher increases. However, the difference between groups were not statistical significant.
Two earlier studies have compared linear and undulating programs. Those found the same result: slightly higher increases with undulating periodization, but not statistically significant.
The researchers conclude that for maximizing strength increases, daily intensity and volume variations were more effective than weekly variations.