You’re familiar with those “Get abs within 30 days workout plan” or the amazing “Get ripped in 10 days” workout schedule. Despite these workouts being almost impossible to do, there’s a high chance that you started your bodybuilding lifestyle using some sort of workout plan, whether that be a general workout plan you found online which you used before transitioning into isolated muscle groups, or just following your coach’s schedule.
And even now, you’ve started to implement your own training plans after learning all about periodization in our video, and you’ve probably been seeing incredible gains. However, this probably drilled an unhealthy thought process into your head, and that’s that if you’re not following a plan, you’re essentially on the path to failure.
Now while that might be true in essence, sometimes your body has other plans.
You could’ve sworn you heard something called autoregulation being thrown around in the gym, or your favorite YouTuber drones on and on about autoregulation and how it’s the perfect method to optimize your gains…
So you’ve been wondering whether the plan you religiously follow is the right path for you or not. Who doesn’t want to just wing it?
Well, firstly, don’t.
Here’s all you need to know about autoregulation, and how it’s not mutually exclusive with periodization.
What Is Autoregulation?
While periodization is all about planning every single workout, day, week, month, and even year, autoregulation is essentially saying that you should change things up based on how you feel. No, they don’t contradict each other, and you’ll see how.
Let’s assume that you’ve been training for a long time. Taking into account your experience, you probably know your body better than any scientist, coach, or study could tell you. Your body can tell you in its own way when it’s feeling great, or when it needs to relax, and autoregulation takes that into account when you’re in the weight room.
It’s a concept called “non-traditional periodization.” Where traditional periodization would have you change up your training routine every 1-3 months, a non-traditional one would have you changing it up every week.
What it really means is that your training has to be planned, but it also has to be flexible.
Think about it this way…
When Your Body Has Other Plans
You’re planning your week and your training schedule, and you decide that on heavy days, your reps per set are going to be anywhere from 9 to 10 reps until exertion, and your light days might entail a 6 to 7 rep per set.
So you’ll start your week off with a heavy day, and on the 3rd day of the week, you’re going to have that day be your second-hardest one. This leaves your 2nd and 4th day of the week for a lighter workout, and ends the week with a moderate day.
We call this session RP.
However, what if you feel exhausted on your first day of the week? Maybe you find yourself doing only 5-6 reps and your lifts aren’t what you want them to be.
We know what you’ll probably do–instinctively you’ll feel like the problem is with you, and get angry at your body, inevitably trying to push it even harder. However, studies show that using this approach wouldn’t let your body adapt that well.
In this situation, autoregulation shines. Instead of starting your week with a super heavy day, how about doing a lighter one instead? And on your second heavy day, if you’re feeling refreshed, you could do a super heavy workout session, leaving your next workout to be a moderate one.
Flexible periodization means that your plan is open to change!
Looking Deeper at Implementing Autoregulation
Autoregulation doesn’t just end with how your body feels on any given day, instead, it could help you make more gains in any workout.
Say you are planning on doing 3 sets of 10 with 225 in the weight room. Well, what if after your first 10 reps, you feel like you could’ve gone a bit further? Keep in mind that you should only rely on autoregulation if you’re an advanced lifter, otherwise you could risk injury.
However, what if you truly feel like you would have pushed your body a little further? Instead of sticking to a piece of paper you wrote, or a schedule you follow, why not bump up the weights to 235 and do your following sets with that weight? You’ll be able to progressively overload based on what you autoregulated!
It goes both ways: if you’re feeling down, and your body isn’t able to perform the way it used to, take a few of those weights off. You’ll be able to do the same pump you planned with 215, or even 205, and still see gains.
Studies actually showed that flexible periodization helps you make way higher gains than sticking strictly with a plan. In fact, autoregulating athletes made way more gains within a workout than sticking with a pre-planned weight.
We hope this article helped you understand how correctly implementing autoregulation to your training can do wonders! We’ll see you in the next article.