How many times have you seen articles titled like that? Articles that have crazy diets and “fat-burning” exercises with the promise you WILL get SKINNY in 3 short weeks. Have you tried them? Do they work? I bet you think they don’t, so you quickly dismiss them and don’t try them.
I’m going to be honest with you – they do work – sort of. If you follow the crazy diet, and exercise your ass literally off for three weeks you will lose fat, and probably build some muscle. But the way that these crazy things fail, is that no one can sustain them for long periods of time, and often people go back to their unhealthy lifestyles afterwards, typically gaining even more weight. We become frustrated, and distrustful of these fads.
Let me introduce you to a new idea: Periodization. It’s a technique athletes use to prepare their bodies for peak performance. I briefly covered the topic in my post about how to build a half-marathon training program. In that article I failed to really go into detail over why the program is broken into hard/easy days and hard/easy weeks. You see, in order for our bodies to give up the fat that they’re storing, our bodies need to be challenged… continually. So if you do the same fat blasting workout for 6 months, somewhere after a month or two you will stop seeing results. You may even begin to GAIN weight. This is because your body has adapted to the demands you’ve placed on it. It’s no longer a challenge. And if you remember, I said to lose fat you need to challenge your body… continually. The same thing happens with athletes. That is why they don’t do the same workout day in, day out. They practice a technique called periodization.
So what is periodization?
The idea behind periodization is that you PLAN your exercise. You plan by week (a micro-cycle) and you plan by months (a macro-cycle). You don’t just hop on the treadmill and do the same workout that you’ve done the past 9 days… You break your week (called a micro-cycle) into hard and easy workouts. Yes – you mix it up and keep your body guessing. You alternate hard and easy days, strength, cardio etc… Perhaps one day you run hills, the next you do a slow easy jog, the next you do a fast tempo run, then you take a rest day, then you do a long distance run to build endurance… You’re running, every day, but because you’re mixing it up your body is being challenged and is left guessing. Your body is not really sure what demands you’re going to place on it. As well, because you’re giving your self easy days, your allowing some recovery so you don’t get injured. You’re also not getting bored. You then break your month (called a macro-cycle) into hard and easy weeks. One week all of your hard & easy workouts are harder than the week before. Then you take an easier week, then a harder week – slowly building your harder weeks to be harder than the hard week before. That, my friends is periodization.
So what does Periodization have to do with fad diets & exercise plans?
Think of those crazy fat burning hard exercises as your hard weeks. Maybe your macro-cycle is 3 months long. You workout hard – following a fad exercise plan for 3 weeks, then you back off for a week or two and take it easy. Now I said easy – not complete rest. Remember, you also need to break that recovery week up into hard & easy workouts. By hard, I don’t mean super hard – just harder than your easy day. Then, and this is where we all fail – then you need to follow that rest/recovery week with another week or two of hard exercise.
The best part of all of this is that you’ll get results and you won’t get bored. Below is a calendar I created for you, with weekly micro-and monthly macro-cycles. I haven’t dictated what exercisies you do because I’m not sure what exercises you prefer to do. If it isn’t stuff you enjoy, then you won’t do it right? I’ve marked hard days and easy days. The hard weeks are in RED BOLD and easy weeks are in plain black. What’s hard for me, could be easy for you. This is another reason why I’ve left it up to you to decide what exercises to do:
YOU CAN DO IT!!! Break it off into smaller chunks. Try to get through your three hard weeks, then reward yourself during the easy weeks (but not with food, unless it’s veggies). Try it for a month – tell me what you think. Did you get results? Did it keep you from getting bored? Are you losing your muffin top in 3 week intervals? I’d love to hear from you in 12 weeks from now