The 3 training phases for results
Training phases

The 3 training phases for results

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In the series of articles about the design of workouts we have already discussed several training phases several times. The existence of different phases is also one of the main reasons that it can sometimes be wise to plan a deload if you want to achieve the best possible results. This has to do with the trainability of certain training phases / incentives. If you constantly try to achieve the same type of stimulus, this will at some point produce fewer and fewer results (known as the law of diminished returns).

In this article I would like to elaborate on the different types of training phases that exist, so that you can get a clearer picture of how you can best structure your training. Of course I can also help you with this, if you wish. In that case, feel free to send me a DM or email!

Different roads to (different) Rome (s)

For starters, as you may recall from previous articles, there are 3 different types of training stages. We can divide these stimuli into several subgroups or stimuli, but for now it is important that you are aware of these 3, which are:

  • Metabolic
  • Hypertrophy
  • Neurologically

Because all 3 are related to training and all 3 are achieved through a combination of repetitions, rest, work pace, load, etc. these 3 different training phases are aligned and determine the way in which you train which stimulus you achieve. This also means that there is or may be overlap and that an incorrect training set-up may result in you not achieving the goals for which you intend to train at all. For that reason, it is also wise to make a plan in advance for a certain period and to stick to that plan.

Each stimulus has its own advantages, but also its own characteristics. For example, you will probably experience a nice pump during a metabolic workout, while this will certainly not be the case with a fully neurological workout. If you are not aware of this and you do not set this up, you may always want to 'chase' a pump and therefore always want to be more metabolic than neurological training or at the end of a neurological training you will always want to do a few drops to still feel something of a pump. However, this can lead to results being partially or completely suppressed.

Training phases

The 3 different training phases

Metabolic training phase

During a metabolic phase, the goal is to consume as much ATP as possible over time and thereby consume a lot of glucose, since fat cannot provide ATP synthesis at a sufficient rate.

When nutrition is correctly adjusted, this phase is ideal for redistributing the body composition (read: losing weight), but also for very efficiently filling the glycogen stocks. In addition, this phase will also be ideal for building up fitness, both locally and systemically.

To cause this, the sets will have to last longer and there will be a longer period of time under significant tension, breaks will have to be shorter, more lactic acid will be built up as a by-product and in addition, consumption of sufficient carbohydrates very important.

Hypertrophy training phase

There are several ways we can cause hypertrophy, like you here have been able to read, among other things.

The goal of this phase will be sarcoplasmic and / or myofibrillar hypertrophy. We are not going to do this with too light a load and that is why you will in general (but not always!) use higher weights than with a metabolic workout, but lower than with a neurological workout.

In a hypertrophy phase it is also important that we put tension on the target muscle and therefore work with strict form. We want high enough tension on the muscle fibers where we want to cause growth. In addition, the breaks will usually be longer and the sets will usually be shorter than with a metabolic workout. Furthermore is train to failure definitely a powerful tool in your arsenal at this stage.

In addition, this training phase usually requires the most calories from the 3 different phases. However, it is important to realize that it is not only this phase that will or may lead to hypertrophy and that it is extremely important that you ensure that metabolic or neurological factors are not the bottleneck in terms of growth!

Training phases

Neurological training phase

We go through this phase with the aim of teaching our nervous system how to use our muscles more efficiently. As a result, your nervous system will be better able to contract more muscle mass or contract more powerfully at the same time and also maintain good shape and posture, or build up strength, under heavy loads.

At this stage, breaks are longest, sets are shortest (and reps are heaviest), and we don't train much to failure in principle. In addition, time under tension is lower in this phase.

In the articles about deloading you can read how the different phases can be used as a deload after a longer period of training in another phase.

Depending on your goals, you would most like to be in a certain phase. However, as previously indicated, it is not wise to constantly linger in the same phase. Partly because the trainability decreases the longer you are in a phase, but also because you want to prevent that lack of training in one of the phases will mean the bottleneck for growth.

The 3 training phases in brief

So if we briefly summarize the content of this article, the 3 training phases come down to the following:

  • The metabolic phase trains with higher repetitions and short breaks, where a large pump is often a known consequence. The goal is to burn as much ATP / glucose as possible, which also causes fat loss and also allows the body to recover from another training phase. Moreover, the trainability of other phases is increasing again.
  • The hypertrophy phase is at the core of both sarcoplasmic and myofibrillary muscle growth. The weights are heavier, the breaks longer and training to failure is more common.
  • The neurological phase is most similar to powerlifting workouts: heavy weights, few reps and long breaks. You train the efficiency of your nervous system and, above all, you become stronger.

After this article, you should be able to go a long way in drawing up your own periodization and schedules, along with the knowledge from the other articles.

If you still find this difficult, then there will certainly be more illuminating articles. Of course I (and we are) always available for questions or help!

This blog is written by

Jan Willem van der Klis

"My focus is on obtaining and disseminating the best possible knowledge to optimize training and nutrition"

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