Military.com

Tactical Fitness with Stew Smith: Periodization Advice

Airman leads calisthenics exercise

Hi Stew!

I know that you do longer workouts in the summer and shorter workouts in the winter by following a bell curve cross-training periodization program through the year. What do you think of the concept of "de-loading" where you systematically increase workout-volume over three-week periods and then, on the fourth week, cut the workload by half?  

I do not have access to weights so I train exclusively with calisthenics (pull-ups, push-ups, dips, squats, lunges … while following your PT Pyramid, the PT Superset and Max Rep PT-workout-templates) so I am limited.  I was thinking that maybe the concept of "de-loading" would be a good way to periodize my own workouts as it would be easier to track my progress to see if I'm getting stronger each week? How would you approach periodization if you were a guy like me who trains exclusively with calisthenics?  

Kindest regards, Renier

Well -- that is a form of periodization, and to be honest, you won't know if it works if you don't try it out.  Short answer: Sure -- see what happens and if you like it!

As you noted, I like high-rep calisthenics workouts on a bell curve through the year, but maybe you can increase the running and/or non-impact cardio options harder when not in high repetition mode.  You could also try a weight vest session during a "winter lifting" phase, or use more TRX and dumbbells workouts during the down cycle of calisthenics.

BUT the goal is to drop the high-rep workouts for a period of time as well as the high-mileage running/rucking, and make those reps / miles more moderate for recovery purposes.  In other words, take a break from 300-400 rep workouts and 10-mile runs for a cycle.

It is up to you how long that "rest" cycle is.  And it is not really a "rest cycle" as it is more of a "change of focus cycle" and gives the body a rest from high miles and big rep workouts. 

PS – Thanks for the email.  Glad to see we have some overseas readers!

Stew