Why phasing is important for your exercise regimen
As I was making my way through my NASM coursework several years ago to receive my personal training certification, I was heavily schooled on the importance of exercise phasing.
Phasing is working through different styles of exercising in order to progress your results toward a particular goal.
NASM uses its own OPT model, where there are five major phases of training: stabilization, muscular endurance, hypertrophy, maximal strength, and power.
Humans are great at adapting to certain styles or methods of working out. Our bodies are really good at making the physical adjustments necessary to make it as easy as possible for you to perform the task that you’re requiring of it.
So when you consistently workout in the same style and consistently train the same way, which is a trap that we all can fall into, your results eventually taper off and it becomes increasingly harder to get results if you never try something different. This is your body getting efficient at the movement that you’re practicing.
Before I became a certified personal trainer, this was definitely me. I did the traditional bodybuilder splits (i.e. chest day, leg day, back day, etc.) in the typical 3 sets of 12 reps style.
However, I experienced exceptional growth once I began incorporating phasing into my workout routine, because all of these phases build upon and complement each other.
Take muscular endurance, which uses higher reps and volume. This phase tends to, as the name suggests, increase your aerobic capacity and muscular endurance output. When you train in this phase for a while and then go into a more bodybuilding or hypertrophy style of working out, you’re able to recover from your sets more quickly because of this increase in endurance, thus increasing your volume capacity in your workouts.
If you look at strength training, where you’re doing heavy weight at low reps and high sets, what you’re doing is increasing your maximum strength and creating a pathway for your central nervous system to produce as much force output to move as much weight as possible. Increasing your maximal strength allows for greater muscle growth once you move back into a muscle-building phase (hypertrophy) since you are, theoretically, able to lift more weight.
This is now the approach that I use in my own personal training, which is featured on my Daily Fit Dad membership site.
Right now, I am in a strength phase after mixing through muscular endurance and hypertrophy for the first two months of 2019. This summer, as I prepare for my Spartan Race in July, I’ll work less in the hypertrophy and strength phases and more in the muscular endurance and power phases to increase my ability to perform in an obstacle course race setting.
Even if you’re not in the gym, phasing is important. For the runners that I train, we work through different phases of endurance building; interval, pacing and tempo work; and finally, sprint work. Even marathoners can benefit from sprint work, and vice versa.
The end point is this: Don’t do the same thing every day, every week, every month, every year. Work in different phases and styles to test your body in different ways and force new growth. You can always default back to your preferred way to workout, but all of these phases will help you as you train in your preferred style.