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Women Make Better Strength Gains with Variety

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Women Make Better Strength Gains with Variety

Tired of doing the exact same thing over and over again ladies without making progress? When designing your weight training program, its important to change variables in your workout to make constant improvement. These can obviously include the sets and reps (volume), loads (intensity), frequency, and rest time (density). There are 2 forms of training periodization is which women can incorporate into their resistance exercise routines to make improvements, linear and non-linear periodization. Linear periodization is the process of increasing intensity (weight lifted relative to 1RM) while volume (reps and sets) decreases over a set cycle, normally of 12 weeks long. This can then be followed by a subsequent cycle with increased volume. While, non-linear or undulating periodization is the process of altering variables (reps, sets and loads) over a short period of time, a week for example. The difference between the two protocols is rather than changing your volume/intensity/rep ranges every few weeks with linear periodization, you change them every day you train with undulating periodization.

At the end of the study, the non-linear or undulating periodization group experienced almost exactly double the results of the periodization group.

Based on a previous study, undulating or non-linear periodization is superior for increasing strength compared to the classic periodization model. Researchers compared the effect of non-linear or undulating periodization to the classic periodization model. The two groups workouts were essentially the same, the only difference was the order and structure were just different. At the end of the study, the non-linear or undulating periodization group experienced almost exactly double the results. When comparing the non-linear or undulating periodization group to the classic periodization group, here were the results: 28.8% vs 14.4% improvement on bench press, and 55.8% vs. 25.7% improvement on leg press. A new study in the published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reports that undulating periodization works best for women for increasing strength.

Researchers compared the effects of resistance training utilizing block periodization (BP) and weekly undulating model (WUD) on maximal strength and hypertrophy in recreationally strength trained women. Seventeen recreationally trained women were randomly assigned to either a block periodization group or a weekly undulating model group. Participants of both groups trained 3 days a week for 10 weeks. Block periodization and weekly undulating model programs used the same exercises and the difference between the two programs was in the distribution of the training volume within each training phase. The block periodization group was subdivided into two 5-week sections, comprising a hypertrophy section (high volume, low relative load) and a strength section (low volume, high relative load). The non-linear program varied these parameters from one week to the next, training using a different scheme each week, in two similar 5-week sections. Anthropometric measures and strength testing were performed before (PRE) and after 10 weeks (POST) of training. At the end of the study, the results revealed that both block periodization and weekly undulating model groups made significant increases in strength and power but improvements in lower body strength were significantly greater in weekly undulating model group (+ 27.7 %) compared to block periodization group (+ 15.2 %).


Both groups significantly increased arm muscle hypertrophy, whereas improvements in thigh muscle size were significant in the weekly undulating model group only (+ 5.8 %). Results of this study indicate that the weekly undulating model is more effective than the block periodization model for increasing maximal strength and muscle size in the lower body in women.The researchers concluded that a non-linear, weekly undulating periodization model may be superior to a block periodization model in a 10-week resistance training program for increasing maximum lower body strength, size and jumping performance in resistance trained females.

Rhea MR, Ball SD, Phillips WT, Burkett LN. A comparison of linear and daily
undulating periodized programs with equated volume and intensity for strength. J Strength Cond Res. 2002 May;16(2):250-5.

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