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#008 The Core Four: Fitness

core four fitness newsletter periodization


You need to rest to rise. 

Today I'm sharing the magic of periodization training.

It wasn’t until training for Ironman that I even heard of periodization. Before I thought a good workout meant you gave it your all. All the glory was in the pain and suffering. So silly.

But once I committed to doing an Ironman, I noticed that all the plans had about 3 weeks of build and then on the 4th week you’d back way off the training load and focus on rest and recovery. Genius!

On the 5th week you’d start the build again but this time at a greater intensity (like Week 2 0r 3) an build again from there. Rest week didn’t mean no work, it meant easier work.


The Science is clear.

Periodization training is literally designed ‘to maximize training adaptations and to prevent the onset of overtraining syndrome.’

Simply put, you’ll see the most gains while protecting yourself from injury. I’d call that a nice longevity tool!


It doesn’t need to be complicated.

Below is an example of a periodization chart. You simply increase intensity or load (weight) for 3 weeks then every 4th week you deload or decrease weights. Repeat.

Each block represents a 4 week period and there are a total of 4 - 4 week periods. Each color bar represents a specific week and it’s total volume load of weight (clearly this study is using power lifters bc the numbers are insane! But the principle is the same).

What’s really interesting is even though they are taking back-off or ‘deload’ weeks every 4th week they are still progressing.

You can see that the deload week (blue bar) on Block 4 (= Week 16) is more volume (12,000 kg) than the start of Week 1 load week the green bar (11,000 kg). This is much more efficient and protective than just trying to increase to eternity and waiting until injury to rest.

I love the structure because it gives me something to work towards each week and I feel like I get a reward at the end. The mental and physical break to go easy then gets me fired up to start again.

IMPORTANT! You never want to increase more than 2-5% a week.

This includes cardio and strength. Always best to err on the less is more side especially if you are just starting out. Remember, this is training for longevity and health. If you’re training for a specific event or competition it may be different.


My current workout plan:

After a 3 year winning streak I finally caught Covid in January. Ugh! The primary lingering effect is that my muscles feel super tight. I’m sure I still have inflammation in my body so I have to be very careful not to injure myself.

After fully recovering (so I thought), I took my typical strength class on Peloton and could not workout again for over a week! I felt like I had been in wreck. Every muscle was extremely sore and stiff.

So, I’ve gone back to the drawing board and starting super light, focusing on compound movements and form. I’ll follow this plan for the next month and GRADUALLY increase weights. I am way more focused on consistency and being able to do this without having to take a long recovery break from soreness than making quick strength gains.

I’m using the program from the Starting Strength book. Truly an OG and time tested method. It takes less than 30 minutes to complete and only 3 moves; squat, press and deadlift. I do it 3 days a week; M-W-F.

So simple. Do this and I promise you will get strong!

For cardio, I’m going to ride my Peloton 3x week; Sun-Tue-Thurs. I say going to because -again, derailed from Covid - but starting up again today. Yay!

I use the same method with my cardio. I add more intense classes as the weeks progress then on the 4th week, I do all low intensity rides.


If you want to join me, I’d love a training/accountability buddy and happy to share my exact plan! It’s easily adaptable.

Just reply to this email. 😊


The challenge with group classes:

Unless you have a gym or online membership with TONS of classes it’s hard to do a periodization program. Focus still tends to be on crushing it at every class.

Good news, there’s always a work around. If you can tolerate it (and I know you can), just hold back a bit every fourth week.

Don’t leave it up to an instructor who has no ability to individually plan for you. I know it’s hard when the music is pumping and the instructor is cheering everyone on. But exercise is not the time to adopt herd mentality.

You can still enjoy the group atmosphere but maybe that week find a spot more in the back. If you usually grab 5 lb weights for your class drop it to 2 lbs that week. If it’s a HIIT spin class, just spin easy, the lights are dim anyway. 😊

Think of it as a great opportunity to honor your needs and goals. Hold that boundary. Rest to rise.

With love and gratitude,