November 22, 2023 2 min read


Non-Linear Periodization

Non-linear periodization, also known as “undulating” periodization, involves frequent changes in training variables. The volume, intensity (percentage of 1 rep max), and sometimes exercise selection, are altered daily, weekly, or biweekly depending on the microcycle length and goal. Unlike linear periodization, where the training progresses in a linear fashion over an extended period, non-linear periodization allows for more flexibility and variation in the training plan. This can have psychological benefits to athletes who get bored easily, as well as physiological ones. 

The main shortcoming of traditional linear programming is how far removed from the other training outcomes the athlete is. At the beginning of a cycle, they are very far removed from strength and power training and, likewise, at the end of a cycle, they are very far removed from hypertrophy. Non-linear periodization aims to fix this by allowing the athlete to train all 3 variables (hypertrophy, strength, and power) within the same week, or rotating through them weekly to bi-weekly. 

Key Features of non-linear periodization include:

  • Daily or Weekly Fluctuations: frequent changes in training variables help prevent plateaus and provide a varied stimulus to the body.
  • Varied Repetition Ranges:includes a mix of low-repetition, high-intensity workouts and high-repetition, moderate-intensity workouts within the same training week. This targets different energy systems and muscle fiber types
  • Complexity and Variety: the complexity and variety of the training program can help keep athletes mentally engaged and prevent training monotony

A way to think about Undulating Periodization is to take a standard linear program, and change each training day or week to cycle through the phases. If a standard linear program looks like this:

Phase 1 (4-6 weeks): Hypertrophy, 3-5 x 8-12
Phase 2 (4-6 weeks): Basic Strength, 4-6 x 4-6

Phase 3 (4-6 weeks): Strength & Power, 3-5 x 1-5

Non-Linear Periodization would break it down thusly:

Week 1: Hypertrophy, 3-5 x 8-12
Week 2: Basic Strength, 4-6 x 4-6

Week 3: Strength and Power, 3-5 x 1-5


Day 1: Hypertrophy
Day 2: Basic Strength

Day 3: Strength & Power

In either case, you would repeat the cycle again with a heavier weight.



  • Great for beginners through advanced
  • Keeps training interesting
  • Higher frequency of each variable


  • Needs close attention to detail or can lead to overtraining
  • Easy to lose sight of a goal
  • Can allow too much focus on what you want do, instead of need to do

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