Periodization programs of all kinds have become the defacto approach to sports training for strength and speed. Problems can arise when combining a typical weight loss diet with a periodization program. At all times, you want to ensure that the body can manage the stress placed on it while still letting you lose weight and make athletic gains.

The typical weight loss program restricts overall calories and most today restrict total carbohydrates as well. The idea is to manage the blood sugar response by controlling the release of insulin. This has proven to be an effective form of diet for everyone from bodybuilders to stay at home moms.

Periodization programs recognize that it is impossible to always be making gains in strength or speed or overall endurance. Traditional weight lifting programs talk about doing 3 sets of 10 reps per exercise and then trying to increase the weight from workout to workout. If you were to increase the weight used 5 pounds per workout and exercise 3 times a week, that would be over 500 pounds of increase! This is clearly not possible.

A typical periodization program splits the calendar into phases such as “recovery”, “strength”, “endurance”, and “maintain”. The idea is that within a phase you focus your workouts on a specific type of training. If there is a competition or goal you are working toward, the phases and calendar are adjusted so that you peak right before the event.

You do not want to be on a weight loss program for 12 weeks and in the middle of a 10 week periodization phase for maximum strength. Your body will be stressed too much and this will hinder, not help, your weight loss efforts. Training for maximum strength requires adequate carbohydrate and protein intake and actually works against your fat loss efforts.

Periodization phases do not have to last months though. The length for a phase can be shorted to even a day! This form of periodization program is called “undulating periodization” and has you working out 3 days a week typically with a different focus on each workout. One day focuses on strength, another on speed, and another on endurance.

This type of periodization program is perfect for melting fat when combined with adequate protein intake (at least 1 gram per pounds of lean body mass) and healthy carbs. The advantage of this approach to weightloss and periodization is that this program has the body emphasizing a different part each workout.