Periodization-What is it and Why use it?

Periodization is a technique that Mike Ashley believed his success came from.  Periodization is the method of going through periods, or phases, during training.  These phases are aimed at different goals, whether they be bulking, cutting, and/or strength training.  What Mike Ashley did was alternate strength and hypertrophy training cycles.  The goal behind this was to build up strength so that he would be able to lift heavier during the hypertrophy cycles and build more muscle.  Perhaps the best part about periodization is that it adds variety to your training, so that rather than doing the same old workout 52 weeks a year, it changes every 3-6 months.

So why use periodization?  With the changing methods of training, it keeps the muscles guessing.  Kind of like how Arnold Schwarzenegger always believed in shocking the muscles with new things.  Periodization is a way to shock the muscles by doing phases with different goals.  If you go from doing 5 sets of 5 reps in squats with 405 to doing 4 sets of 12, 10, 8, and 8, starting at 225 and pyramiding up, that will shock the muscles because during the strength phase they became accustomed to only doing 5-6 reps per set.  This helps to eliminate plateaus in muscle growth.

How do you use periodization?  It is pretty simple to figure out how to use periodization.  You could do what Mike Ashley did and incorporate a strength phase and a hypertrophy phase, or you could make it a bulking phase, a cutting phase, then a strength training phase.  Or you could certainly come up with your own combination specific to your goals.  Just be sure that the training in each phase matches what the goal of that phase is.  So, for example, during the strength phase, I should be focusing on strength, rather than the hypertrophy of 10-12 reps.  During the hypertrophy phase, I should not be focusing on building strength.

Read also:


MCT Oil and Bodybuilding

MCT oil was discussed in my previous post on Mike Ashley, due to the fact that he consumed MCT oil in order to consume more calories.  But what is it, how is it used, and are there any risks to using it?

MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are shorter fatty acids than LCTs, Long Chain Triglycerides.  MCTs contain about 6-12 carbon atoms, whereas LCTs contain 16-22.(ISSA, 2003)  How long the chain is determines how quickly it will digest.  Because MCTs are shorter, they digest faster than LCTS, and are converted to be used for energy.  LCTs are more likely to be stored as body fat, but MCTs go straight from the small intestine to the liver where it is processed for energy use and there is not much left to be stored.

This leads many to believe that MCT is good for burning fat.  However, studies have only conclusively proven this in animals.(ISSA, 2003)  Not as many studies have been conducted on its effects on humans, however, at least two studies have suggested that MCT increases thermogenesis and thus you burn more fat.  Studies have also shown that MCTs increase metabolism.(“MCT oil,” n.d.)

This is just a brief summary of the structure and functions of medium chain triglycerides, so for more in-depth information, be sure to look at the cited articles at the bottom.  Whether or not MCT oils effectively burn fat and increase metabolism will be the topic of further study.

ISSA. “MCT Oil: Is It The Ultimate Way To Burn Fat?” N.p., 28 Apr. 2003. Web. 03 May 2016. <;.

“MCT Oil Is One of the Most Underrated Sports Supplements on the Market.” Lean & Muscular. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2016. <;.

Mike Ashley: Natural Bodybuilding


Pictured is Mike Ashley, perhaps one of the greatest natural bodybuilders ever.  He is best known for winning the 1990 IFBB Arnold Classic competition.  He also competed in the 1987 and 1988 IFBB Mr. Olympia competitions, both of which Lee Haney won.  Ashley quit competition due to the limitations of being natural and not using steroids, which kept him from winning against many who did take steroids.  Today, Mike Ashley is a personal trainer and is still in great shape.

Mike Ashley attributes his 1990 victory at the Arnold Classic to the drug testing that occurred at the event.  Because it was drug tested, he did not compete against bodybuilders who had been taking steroids in preparation for the competition.  With the size and definition seen in the picture, it seems logical that he would win against many others who had not used steroids.  Something else that really sets Mike Ashley apart is that he consumed up to 5,000 calories a day, and in the off season he was never far over 200 pounds.  A decent portion of the calories he consumed came from MCT oil, or Medium Chain Triglyerides, which added calories without adding body fat.  MCT will be discussed in a future article.

Mike used a technique called periodization in order to build strength and size.  Periodization will be discussed in a future article.  The basic idea of his periodization training would be to have a strength phase to build up the strength of the muscles, then move to a hypertrophy phase where he would be able to lift heavier weights that during the last hypertrophy phase in order to stimulate the most muscle growth.

Mike Ashley is a perfect example of how natural bodybuilders can still be successful in competition.  He may have competed during the late 80s and early 90s, but the point still stands.  While he retired from competition due to the limits of natural bodybuilding, he still made a name for himself.

Articles you may like:

MCT Oil:

Mike Ashley Interview: