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Before we begin, check here for the first post in the series. Last time we looked at linear periodization, which, if you don’t want to read the other post equates to something like building on program variables at a steady rate in an evenly, but increased fashion over time.

Today though, we’ll talk about nonlinear periodization (or sometimes called undulating periodization which I might call a subset of nonlinear), which Kramer et al. state has actually surpassed linear as the proffered method (in athletes at least, personal training might often use linear programs particularly in beginner programs).

Rather than sequentially increasing or decreasing the volume and intensity, nonlinear periodization calls for more frequent changes – weekly and sometimes daily – to maintain variation in the training stimulus. (Kramer et al, 2007, p. 57)

The authors go on to state that the current research leans toward nonlinear periodization being more conducive to results than linear, they reason this could be so due to the constant variation in variables which requires the body to adapt at a consummate rate. This style of programming overcomes the stalling that often occurs with linear progressions, after all you can’t simply add 5kg to your deadlift a week forever, but by having a heavy day, a light day and a moderate day you can, over time, yield greater numbers.

The authors also note that while this method is greater for producing strength in your main or competition lifts it can also be used in a similar fashion with your assistance exercises for hypertrophy as well as strength. They give an example of a light and heavy day for supporting muscles (think triceps extensions for assistance on bench press). (p.57)

This structure of heavy, light, and moderate workouts also allows you to get more frequency and thus volume into strength programs thus allowing greater gains to be made, not just in assistance exercises for support but also in larger compound movements. More than this, you can even add a power day to your program too which will allow you to train for speed, strength and hypertrophy all at the same time.

An example they provide using percentage of 1 rep max goes as follows:

Week 1         Week 2            Week 3                Week 4          Week 5

Day 1: 82%x3x3        87%x2x3          75%x6x3             85%x3x3       90%x1x3

Day 2: 60%x8x3        50%x3x9          52%x12x3          62%x8x2        55%x5x5

Day 3: Optional day: active rest and recovery or light assistance work) (p. 58)

Another example they give:

Day                                        RM Training Zone

Monday                                4 sets of 12-15RM

Wednesday                          4 sets of 8-10RM

Friday                                   3-4 sets of 4-6RM

Monday                                4-5 sets of 1-3RM

Wednesday                          Power day

Friday                                   2 sets of 12-15RM (p.58)

Your program structure doesn’t need to be this, it can really be anything in this ball park, the specifics of the sets and reps may not be as important (they are still important don’t get me wrong) as simply making sure you are having some kind of heavy, light, moderate days. This will keep you from over training, but also allow you to push hard, experience heavier loads, while also allowing a “pump” style muscle-building workout. This is how you get the “show and go” look, the performance to suit the look. After all, we want to look good and move well, right?


Kramer, W.J., Hatfield, D. L., Fleck, S.J. (2007). Strength Training (edited by Lee Brown). Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics.

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How I Program My Own Training – Meghan Callaway.

What’s Your Question? #6 – Team Juggernaut.

Top Fitness Articles of The Week – Jon Goodman.

6 reasons to care about poop health. [Infographic] – Mc schraefel, Ph.D and Krista Scott-Dixon, Ph.D.

Selecting and Progressing Weights – Team Juggernaut.

Bench Press Around Cranky Arms and Shoulders – Sam Spinelli.

A Survivor’s Approach to Beating Back Injuries – William Richards.

The Corrective Exercise Trap – Nick Tumminello and Jason Silvernail

5 Overrated Training Methods By Personal Trainers – Nick Tumminello

The surprising truth about sugar. -Brian St. Pierre and Krista Scott Dixon.

Cossack Squats: Breaking Out of the Sagittal Plane – Dean Somerset.

When to Work Harder, How to Work Smarter, and When to do Both – Nia Shanks.

“Real Women” Don’t Fit in a One-Size-Fits-All Mold – Nia Shanks.

Sleep – Steven Novella.

3 Stretches to Make Your Shoulders Feel Amazing – Smitty.

What are Calories Part 1 -Lyle McDonald.

What are Calories Part 2 -Lyle McDonald.

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 6/27/17 – Eric Cressey.

7 Butt Exercises That Really Work with No Equipment Needed – Rick Kaselj.

5 Effective Lower Back Pain Stretches – Rick Kaselj.

World Obesity Federation Recognises Obesity As a Chronic Relapsing Progressive Disease – Arya Sharma.

Fitness Professionals: Competency vs. Fit – Eric Cressey.

Why the Gut Microbiome Is Crucial for Your Health –  Ruairi Robertson.

14 Healthy Foods That Help You Poop – Rachael Link.

The Dose-Response Relationship and Strength and Conditioning Progress – Eric Cressey.

3 steps for prepping (and loving) your veggies. [Infographic] – By James Heathers and Jennifer Nickle.

The Best Fitness Articles of The Week – PTDC.

The Best Fitness Articles of The Week– PTDC.

The Myth of the Best Diet Plan (And How to Find What Will Work For You) – Adam Bornstein.

The Simple Way to Upgrade Your Meal Prep and Eat Healthier in Less Time – McKell Hill.

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Here is another one of my clients who recently entered the Onyx True Raw Powerlifting Competition, Dion. Her prep was really smooth, we spent quite a bit of time laying a nice base, with her following the programs set while I was in Europe. We ran her through some Greg Nuckols inspired base phases which included some basic strength work with  high variation on the competition lifts (Anderson squats, paused squats, close grip benches and dips etc). From here we brought her into a specific 12 week prep inspired by a Robert Wilks’ style program which was quite high volume (for a powerlifting prep) which worked really well until the last phase (read that as a criticism of my coaching not the source material), but with some slight adjustments things moved wll.

Her peak went really well, she hit pb’s in all her lifts really comfortably as you can see below. She had had the most prep time out of our group and thus was the most confident in her lifts, and who had the least trouble with missing lifts and injury during prep. Below are some examples from her peak week including a pb squat of 97.5kg (which she couldn’t quite replicate on the day) and a 57.5kg bench with a really long pause. Her squat will be a focus for improvement over the off-season until November which I think with a slight increase in deads and bench will make her quite competitive in her next comp.

As you’ll see below she actually hit a higher squat in training than on the day, which was her only disappointment from the day. It was a mixture of factors I would say, nerves, the length of the day itself, me being absent from the platform for cues and just bad luck.

Comp day was a big day, her and Sieraya were there hours early to help us boys out and support us, which we are grateful for. Squat was up first and was a scary experience, being her first PA comp Dion was, like the rest of us, worried about depth. We’d heard the fed was tough on rules so we were a little gunshy, we had planned Dion’s attempts based on easy lifts in the gym so it was really left up to luck on the day. She got through her first two attempts easy enough, but just she went a bit shallow on depth and lost her groove and couldn’t get it.

Next up on bench, which was her strong suit, she powered through all her attempts with a comfortable finisher of 57.5kg. I was tempted to push her for 60kg on her last attempt but we stuck to our plan or having a good, safe day.

Lastly were deadlifts which had really come along well for her in the last few weeks leading up to comp (mostly because she can’t count plates and kept adding a heap of weight onto the bar accidentally), she hit a pb of 120kg on her last attempt with plenty left in the tank.

She ended up with a:

90kg squat

57.5kg bench

120kg deadlift

For a total of 267.5 at 67kg bodyweight. She also won best new lifter of the day which was an award they only gave to one person. That’s a great start to her future in powerfliting. Videos form the comp were hard to come by here is her second squat, first or second bench and last deadlift.

To give you some insight into how well she’s done during this prep, here are some vids from her first comp a few years ago (which I did not coach her for):

In these vids you can see her failing a 70kg squat and 50kg bench press, but more than that you can see how much more technically proficient her lifts are now too, how much more confident strong she is.

Her next competition is November, she’s returning to training this week after not training since the comp (about three weeks now), and she’s hitting the ground running. Watch this space.

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Well as anyone who follows me on social media knows I hurt my back, it was my first workout for the week, deadlifts. I’ll post the vid below. It was just a minor back strain (trust me it didn’t feel minor the next day), but it’s been good in that its taught me some of my weaknesses. My hammies (particularly my left) are weak, it’s probably too late to do much about that now, but I’ve changed my dedicated hammie work (with correct form now, thanks Rob Murrell!). It certainly has made me re-assess goals for the day, in all lifts but particularly the dead, I’ll definitely be going conservative there.

I also had a good chat with Rob about the year’s goals and building strength over the course of progressive comps. Sounds obvious I know, but with so many of us from Goodlife competing I think it’s gotten a little competitive, which is good, it’s pushed me beyond what I would have otherwise done (I have a tendency to be cautious). But, I and the girls have goals that we want to achieve in powerlifting (nationals for one, Oceania if we’re being ambitious, see here for rankings/qualifying), none of which will be achieved in this particular comp. So, we’re looking for PR’s, meet PR’s (the girls will definitely get these, I won’t). Then we’ll move straight back into off-season prep to come back for an October comp even stronger. Who knows, a year or two of this style of training and we just might be competitive.

And to the vids:

No squatting this week as it wasn’t until Sunday that my back felt solid enough to go in even to bench




I didn’t film my deads on friday (which I did at Barbarian in Rockingham), but I managed a top set of 170kg, with 3×3 at 150kg. None of which felt particularly rough, just wanted to take it easy as I’m really gunshy with deads now. I’m not really sure how to program from here on out, I haven’t tested 1RM’s really since the beginning (see here), I’ll probably work back up to a 200kg top single next week, then do some triples at 170kg, and maybe add 10 or so kg to both of those for the final peaking week. This won’t get me a very big dead at comp (maybe 220-230kg at most, I’ll asses how it feels), but better to walk away than limp away.



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I don’t know why I didn’t do this at the time, but I’ve wanted to put together a blog post on Sieraya’s journey to her last comp, so here we are.

On November 6 of last year Sieraya competed in her first ever powerlifting competition at PTC in Malaga (which falls under the branch of the GPC federation). This was her first complete foray into powerlifting, with her having many attempts at it in the past and for whatever reason it didn’t eventuate. She wanted to start with a PTC Novice comp as she’d seen me do one many years ago, we know many people involved in that group and they were our first experiences with powerlifitng and thus where she felt most comfortable trying her hand at the sport (she’s now moved over to Powerlifting Australia).

The first thing we did was measure her 1RM’s which were:

Squat: 57.5kg

Bench: 43kg

Deadlift: 75kg

Pretty solid numbers for your average female lifter, particularly one who had focused on metabolic and fat loss for the past few years, mostly. But we had plenty of work to do.

We engaged in a 16 week series of programs, which we came to realize by the end was probably too long a time to spend prepping, for interests sake if nothing else. The basic structure of her programs was a progressive but undulating periodized program that increased in weight week to week in 5kg increments on legs and 2.5kg increments on upper body, with a low/moderate/high intensity day per week and plenty of assistance exercises too. To be honest her program was insanely high volume and I don’t know how she handled it, I know I couldn’t. But it worked.

I can include a couple of vids of her progression below to see progress:

With GPC comps you have a 24hr weigh in so we spent 5 days out from her comp manipulating water, sodium and food weight to bring her down from about 78kg, to 73kg on weigh in day. When she got on the platform the next day she weighed upwards of 80kg (due to refeeds, fluid and sodium intake). This was great for her Wilks score (a score that equalizes lifts to bodyweight), but to be honest, it probably hurt her strength a little. And it’s not something I would want her to do again.

She had a massive day, she walked away with:

Squat: 95kg

Bench: 57.5kg

Deadlift: 130kg

She nearly doubled her lifts on legs with nearly 1.5 on bench, which would be partially accounted for by newbie gains, but also a testament to how hard she worked and how much she focused over that time. Her lifts are below:

Now she’s currently deep into prep for a comp coming up in 3 weeks and she’s on track for an even bigger day. Stay tuned.

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For the rest of this series see here, here, here, here.


So, things are starting to get pretty intense, weights have moved up and they’re coming along nicely, I tweaked my quad tendons more on the friday squat session (a mixture of volume and load) so I reduced my volume the following week, which I’ll update you on in a moment.

The interesting reality is, while I couldn’t be more proud of myself and how much I’ve accomplished in the short time I have the reality is, especially after watching the Barbarian Comp the other weekend, I’m really not going to be competitive at this comp. I came back from 5 weeks off, did a 4 week base phase then got into it. That’s ok, I’m not making excuses, that was always the plan, you learn so much during comp prep and during the day itself that I wanted to get into it and see what happens. I know how my off-season will go with how I’m going to deload, build muscle, while slowly building strength so that when I get to my next meet prep my tendons and joints are fully prepared for the rigor of these high loads.

That said, I think I’m on target for pb’s on most if not all of my lifts (current comp pb’s are S: 182.5KG, B: 150kg, D: 240kg @ 94.8kg bodyweight), but since I’m 10kg heavier (105kg class) than last time I competed (vid below) I don’t think that’s saying much. And since I haven’t touched anything close to these loads pretty much since I hurt my back in early 2015 I’m really happy with how it’s coming together.

Ultimately we’re popularizing the sport of powerlifting and while I’m sure there are plenty of higher level coaches and athletes who see people working at my level as a dilution of the sport, that’s also just what happens when a sport becomes more popular. Which I’m sure everyone wants.

The girls are coming along really nicely, no injuries, tweaks or problems to speak of, and they’re getting stronger by the day, actually they’re doing much better than me, which I love. Like, that’s all there is to say about them, they’re fucking amazons. They come in, do their work and get out, I feel like they’re embodying the essence of the Dave Tate style of powerlifting, that old school, shut up, rest until it’s your turn to lift, no bragging, just putting in the work, hard-assery. And they’re both getting either pr’s or volume pr’s all the time now so they’re both going to have an amazing day.


In a week or two she’ll be hitting her comp pb’s as part of her top singles and she’s already repping higher numbers than she did in her previous comp, this is all the while keeping a “golden key” average at uni (it’s an award they give to students who get all hd’s) and preparing her thesis for honors while also completing assignments and working. She amazes me, and shows me the way. She’s hungry for that qualifying total. And for those who are curious:

FullSizeRender (2)



She’s already repping way higher numbers than her previous comp pb’s, in the case of her squat, we could be looking, if we allow ourselves to be ambitious, a multiple of her former pb on the day.


So, the quad tendons, look, they’re sore, they’re not going to get better until I deload and add some variability into my training, the two things I can’t do. So, I kind of have to work around it best I can. I think I might be working at around a 190-200kg 1RM at the moment, which, if I can maintain that up and until the comp, will be a huge pb for me, so I’m not particularly concerned with gaining too much more strength there. Maintenance will be the aim of the game for the next 4 weeks, as well as trying to dissipate some of the tension in them as much as possible. I’m applying ice to mitigate any excessive inflammation as well as foam rolling and stretching so as long as I don’t do anything silly I should be ok.

Everything else is coming good, back pain is minimal, refereed pain minimal, and I would argue has actually improved since prepping. My shoulder is coming good, some triggers around the subscap, but I’m making an effort to keep my shoulder depressed during benching (which has always been a problem for me), working on my external rotation, and of course, working on those triggers.


As far as the body comp goals mentioned in my base week? Yeah, that’s gone to shit, With the low volume, long rest periods I’m just not burning many calories, and with the added stress of lecturing now (adds an additional 7 hours to my week) I eat what I want when I want. I track cals of course, and try to stay within guidelines, I eat veggies everyday, plenty of protein, and keep my cals under, but if I want junk, I generally have it. Thought about going down a weight class in the off-season but that means going down to 93kg which makes me just too damn skinny for my liking. I would rather have a little more bodyfat and be bigger than very little and be small. That’s just me. I also feel strong at this weight and less prone to injury so while I’ll certainly lean up over the off-season, it won’t be anything too dramatic.



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This is a common term used in the strength and conditioning field, there is much discussion about which way to periodize and how. But your average trainee vary rarely has a program, let alone one with progressive (and variable) resistance, let alone one that periodizes different variables into an orderly fashion. This could speak to the small percentage of gains that periodization might actually add to your total goals given that many people get great results without such, or it could be that people actually are periodizing their workouts, but going on feel rather than any strict formulation. Before going further lets actually look at what periodization is:

Periodization training allows for the use of many different types of workouts, trianing programs, and modalities. In essence, it calls for varying the training stimulus (intensity or volume) over determined periods of time to allow for proper progression in the exercise stress and planned periods of rest. (Kramer et al, 2007, p. 53)

And that’s it really, its a structured, systemized plan, that takes into account, and focuses on different variables, to further develop the overall goal (be it strength, athletic performance, aesthetics etc). The history of periodization, Kramer et al. state comes from the principle of progressive resistance training or overload developed in the 1940’s by an army physician working with soldiers, which in turn developed from an older principle; the SAID (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) principle, which essentially is: “the need to gradually increase the amount of physical stress placed on the body in order to continually stimulate adaptations.” (p. 53) Adaptations that can be manipulated are generally volume, intensity, frequency and duration, with rest periods in there too.

Linear Periodization

The most popular way to periodize variables is known as linear periodization and was the traditional way programs were ordered in the Eastern Bloc in the 1950’s. Kramer et al. notes the coaches found that by decreasing volume and increasing intensity (expressed as percentage of 1RM) their strength and power athlete’s performances increased leading up to competition.

These early periodization models were built around one competitive season broken into four phases: preparation, first transition (end of preseason), competition, and season transition (off-season). The length of time of each phase depended on the length of the competition season, the mode of training, and individual differences of the athletes. (Kramer et al, 2007, p. 54)

To further elaborate, Kramer notes that the preparation phase focused heavily on increasing muscle mass and strength, volume was a priority while intensity was low. As they moved into the first transition phase  volume was lowered to allow for an increase in intensity (as the two are inversely related), with the goals being muscular power (defined in the physics fashion as work over time/ P= W/t) and increased skill. The competition phase, also known as the peaking phase were different for each sport, but training for everyone was sports specific, designed around the demands of competition. Finally the off-season was spent recovering and rehabilitation without completely detraining. (p. 54)

Linear periodization takes quite literally and simply the concept of progressive overload, in the sense that usually it increases load or volume gradually and week to week.  While this may be the best way for beginners to increase their size of strength it actually becomes problematic over a long period of time with plateaus being quite common as the lifter progresses.

In linear periodization, the aim in each mesocycle is to attempt to increase the body’s muscle hypertrophy and strength toward the theoretical genetic maximum. Thus, the theoretical basis for a linear method of periodization consists of developing muscle hypertrophy followed by improved nerve function and strength. This is repeated again and again with each mesocycle, and within each phase, loading would progressively increase from workout to workout. (Kramer et al, 2007, p. 55)

The authors note: people new to training should commence with 6 to 12 weeks of a general preparation phase to get ready for a more formalized plan. This plan should focus on light weights, learning new exercises and progressing to the starting RM percentage used in the program. (p. 57)

An example of a linear periodized program would be:

Microcycle Repetition Training Zones
1 3-5 sets of 12-15RM
2 4-5 sets of 8-10RM
3 3-4 sets of 4-6RM
4 3-5 sets of 1-3RM

(Microcycles here represented as 4 weeks long) (p. 56)

A more complicated example would be as follows:

Preparation phase (4wks) First Transition (4wks) Competition Phase (4wks) 2nd Transition (Off season 4wks)
Goal Muscle Growth Maximal Strenth & Growth Peak Muscle Growth
Reps 8to10 4to6 1to3 8to10
Sets 4to6 3to4 3to5 4to6
Intensity Low Moderate Very High Low
Volume High-moderate Moderate Low High-moderate

(P. 56)


Kramer, W.J., Hatfield, D. L., Fleck, S.J. (2007). Strength Training (edited by Lee Brown). Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics.

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