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Why You Need Phases In Your Training

The principle of adaptation refers to the process of the body getting accustomed to a particular exercise or training program through repeated exposure. Once our body has adapted and made progress, it's not abnormal for our body to reach a state of little or no change. To get further results, you need to put your body through a different phase that will allow your body to grow at any level of experience.

Focusing on and knowing the different types of phases will keep the fitness journey simple for you and help you break plateaus and prevent injuries.

In our definition, phases aren't limited to the Optimal Performance Training (OPT) model; they also include the phases of bulking, cutting, and reverse diet, which will be for different blog posts: "What's the Point of Bulking and Cutting?" and "How to Lose More Weight?"

Periodization and Progressive Overload are intertwined with the OPT model.

What is the OPT Model

The OPT model has three main focus - Stabilization, Strength, and Power, which are made up of 5 different micro-focus phases that act as a stepping stool to the next one, starting with Stabilization Endurance.

The principle of phases is nothing new. Before you even learned how to walk, you needed to develop the required muscles that allowed you to push your upper body up with your tiny hands off the floor. You then did the same with your tiny legs before you began to crawl.

Ultimately, this strengthened the muscles and joints that allowed you to stand with minimal assistance. Through repeated exposure it also developed your stabilization and coordination to move your body as a whole unit while staying balanced on your feet.

Similarly, it takes the body certain mechanics, proprioception, and strength to squat, bench, and deadlift. This is why it takes a great deal of self-awareness to know where you stand with your abilities and limitations and to know what you need to do to further your progress.

Phase 1 - Stabilization Endurance [Stabilization]

Phase 1 is the foundation of the OPT Model. During this first phase, we focus on form and technique and correcting any muscle imbalances a client may have. We consider this the most important because having improper form and technique could lead to future injuries and slower progress in the long run.

Exercises to promote mind-muscle connection and increase the client's sense of self-movement, force, and body position - proprioception; balance, stability, and coordination (think about writing with your non-dominant hand).

This phase isn't only limited to beginners, but we also program it for experienced lifters who may have injuries or muscle imbalances.

Phase 2 - Strength Endurance [Strength]

Phase 2 is the initial part of the strength focus. This is where we introduce traditional strength compound movements such as the bench press, squats, and deadlifts. Exercises are lightweight and high reps for clients to develop the muscles required to perform the movement.

In Phase 2, traditional exercises are paired with exercises that have similar biomechanical motions but require more stabilization to perform (such as bench press paired with BOSU ball push ups).

Phase 3 - Muscular Hypertrophy [Strength]

Phase 3, as we would describe it, is the bodybuilding phase. It's all about building strength and developing muscle by focusing on high volume work at moderate-to-high intensity.

This phase is essential for both clients that are trying to gain muscle or lose weight/fat.

Phase 4 - Maximal Strength [Strength]

Phase 4 is where we acclimate clients to heavier weights (85-100% of their one-rep max) to enhance their ability to produce maximal muscular force. We gradually increase the weight and intensity to maximize strength gains through progressive overload.

The rep range for this phase is lower (1-5 reps), and since the volume and weight are heavier, the rest between sets is longer. Progressive overload can also be applied in Phase 3.

Phase 5 - Power [Power]

Phase 5 focuses on explosiveness, producing force in the shortest amount of time. It combines Phase 4 and supersetting with exercises that involve explosive drills such as ball slams.

This phase is more for sport athletes but can also benefit non-athletes.

How this helps you.

Assessing where you are with your abilities and routine is crucial when starting a new program. If you have stopped seeing progress, it may be time to move on to the next phase with progressive overload. If you often feel off-balance with your lifts, adding stabilization exercises can help you progress further.

Similarly, for our online training, we start off our clients with an assessment and place them in their designated phase based on their abilities. We carefully gauge their strength and stability on the 6 fundamental movements to help us progress their level of performance to the next phase.

The following phase will have different sets of weights, sets, and reps used to keep their body adapting. Some exercises will also be swapped out for similar ones that target the same muscle group. This will allow the client to become more knowledgeable and eventually be able to program their workouts by themselves.

Of course, it's always important to keep their goals and what they enjoy doing in mind. Working out is a lifestyle, and instilling that in our clients is our main priority.

Send us a message if you have any questions about where you are in your journey and how to progress; we will be more than happy to help!

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