Periodize your life for the year

periodization for life broTaken from a blog post by Jon Call, A.K.A. Jujimufu where he used periodization for all parts of life.  It’s a really cool idea where you realize your lifting isn’t just something that works independently.

Example 1. Succeed in tricking and you will have a very real advantage in the strength training game.

(see Tricking helps (a lot) with strength)

Example 2. Learn a skill or a get a job that earns more money. The money can be spent on gym equipment, supplements, cameras, travel to gatherings and competitions, etc, which helps with training.

Example 3. If I improve my kitchen equipment/layout I’ll cook faster, healthier, better tasting meals. This saves me time and supports my training with improved nutrition.

Example 4. Build a bad ass, or merely fit physique and you will open up doors in nearly every social avenue in life. Beauty is powerful. Power is beautiful.  –from Jujimufu

You know this training stuff should enhance your life, so here’s some lessons to that effect.

Now, I know not everyone who reads this is familiar with periodization but I think learning it is greatly beneficial to training, at least in the long run.  It gives your exercising a purpose.  Even if you’re not trying to be an ‘athlete’ per se, it gives you the opportunity to look at the big picture, to set grand goals, and ultimately, to keep you bought in on this fitness lifestyle.

One of the biggest things to that effect is how fitness should enhance your life.

Now with periodization, the idea is that we’re trying to build different skills that will ultimately help in the grand goal.  Each skill, and the time devoted to it, builds on the next one, compounding in a better athlete or person in the long run.

You’ve got different ways of going about this.  You can exclusively focus on one skill at a time, something called linear periodization or traditional periodization.  Then you have daily undulating periodization which can focus on more variable skills, and then if you want to get even more complicated, you have conjugate periodization.

Which is even more variability. If you’re interested in learning more about this, check out Barbell and Kilos’ video here.

In that past paragraph I probably made your brain throw  up.

I apologize.

That’s not the purpose of the rest of this post.  I promise.

Rather, it’s looking at how all the skills that you develop in all aspects of life relate to one another.  It’s having a conscious understanding of how each and everything you do benefits your big goals.  Training helps you look good, helps you feel good, helps you be more capable (#fitforfunction).  It helps you do more and offer more to other people from confidence, to physical ability.

The food you eat impacts how you train.  Eat nutritious meals that help you recover from training, and you also benefit the level of your thinking.  Better thinking means a greater ability to output better ideas (generally speaking).  It increases your positional play.

Feeling good, and being able to be mentally more aware, and you can learn with a greater level of ability.

Musashi on the periodize
Musashi Miyamoto, someone who used his amazing swordsmanship and applied it to the rest of life. He wrote The Book of Five Rings.

It’s a lot like what Avishek of SBCA Health talks about in terms of describing health as being holistic.  Everything impacts your health and so why shouldn’t you program for changes and goals setting in all aspects?  Your training compounds into the development of several skills, attributes, habits, and outcomes.

Getting stronger, looking leaner, being more cardiovascular-ly efficient, more mobile, etc.  Maybe it keeps you healthier in your labour job, which gives you the gas to still work on that side hustle after a long day at work.  Over time, it could mean creating something that was really dear to you.  You periodize your fitness to compound other areas of your life.

So cool.


In a T-Nation article,  Christian Thibaudeau talks about how there are two types of lifters.

One is the person who has a problem solver perspective  This person is very aware of the nuances of training and is able to really plan their  workouts specific to them.  They cannot stick to a program for more than a few weeks without feeling anxiety from mental restraint. She is someone who also experiences more stress than the second type of lifter.

The second type of lifter is someone who follows a set program.  This person believes in the program, gets into the gym, and gets his or her work done, and then leaves.  They’re not stressing over the minutiae and get excited when talking about their ‘program’.

The beauty of having someone of the second group is that you set a program, with a set group of goals that the program addresses and go in and stay patient.  You go and realize when it comes to testing what you actually were able to accomplish and it feels amazing.

It’s the same feeling I, personally, got when I did my first year of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program in 2013: just come in and do the work and get out.  After six months, I hit a 60 lbs PR on my squat, finally  benched 225, and had a reasonable deadlift progression.   All of this was possible by just believing in the work.

Now the first type of lifter learns a lot and is able to really kill it but it’s also possible, in the worst case that they lose sight of the forest amid the trees.  For that reason, setting a yearly periodized program with a reasonable level of management but with a habit-based progression (focusing in getting volume in) looks so relatable to other goals.

Neither of these two types is superior and its about knowing which one that YOU are.  This helps knowing how to manage things like adherence, motivation, and discipline.  Looing back, I don’t htink I could do 5/3/1 again because of its restrictive nature.

I need more flow, more variation, but I still need structure.  Its this cool balance between stability and mobility.  Something that was interestingly really cool to learn while interning at Form and Function Clinic

Regardless, when planning a yearly periodization, having some wiggle room to move around and create variety and spontaneity is important.

It’s so funny isn’t it?

Planning spontaneity?

But if that’s who you are then that’s what you need to do.

Overcoming acting on impulse

Another great aspect of periodizing the year is that, if something comes up that pulls at you, trying to make you want to do it and get away from what you had planned, you just say, you’ll see it as a priority for later (for the next year, or next ‘training block’ depending on urgency).

The six week cycle



Setting the year up into certain blocks of time (i really enjoy 6-8 week blocks, just like in training).  This all depends on what works for you and goes back to that example on the kind of planner you are.  Are you a problem solver or someone who, when having written a plan, follows it to a ‘T’ over long periods of time?

I like six weeks because that’s long enough for me to stick to something specifically.  Same for my training, and as I’ve found in the past year, same goes for other areas that I am trying to improve on.

Habit-based goals

In an article by Mark Manson, he talked about setting habit-based goals.

So what does look life for myself?

My Habit-based goals:

  1. Coach
  2. Write
  3. Promote on forums and social
  4. Resume write
  5. Eat write by eating home cooked food
  6. sleep regularly
  7. 10 minutes of mobility daily
  8. Speak to someone about the blog daily
  9. Chase people in niche for guest posts weekly
  10. Match your religious/spiritual learning with your formal education for studying
  11. Quran and pray daily

Writing a program


Some of you have been in the game for a long time and know that it takes at least some planning to keep training interesting.  Even if its not written.  There’s some pre-meditative thought behind it.

Why not write a program for the year that takes on specific focuses, giving you set periods to blast and cruise (No, we’re not talking about steroid cycles, but you could make the same analogy if you wanted) on different areas that you want to improve on, balance recovery in all aspects, and get MORE volume in than simply by doing this haphazardly.

It’s something I’m trying to do myself this year and something that you mind want to think about.

Don’t let training just be this thing you do.  Let it add to life.  Let it be something bigger.  Let it make you #fittoperform.

Share down below what you’re planning to accomplish in the next year.
Don’t be stubborn.  Open a Disqus account.  It makes your comments look aesthetic like their 4% bodyfat in naturall lighting.  You can’t put a price on that!