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5 Phases of Training

Training should be systematic, integrated, and progressive. In this post I explain the 5 phases of training conceptualized by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) - the top rated trainer program for certification and advanced credentials. Each phase has a designated purpose that provides a systematic approach to reach goals and address needs. Everyone should be periodizing  training into phases. Here's why.


Most common training issues

Structural Imbalances

    • primary cause of musculoskeletal degeneration
    • affects nearly 80% of all adults
    • 31 million visits were made to physicians for back problems
    • 80,000 - 100,000 ACL injuries annually
    • 19 million visits to physicians for knee problems
    • 14 million visits to physicians for shoulder problems
    • 11 million visits to physicians for feet and ankle problems

Benefits of Training in Phases

  • Prevents injury. Studies show in the first 6 weeks of a new training program 50-90% of people suffer injury
  • Emphasizes movements in all directions (front to back, side to side, rotation)
  • Uses the full muscle action spectrum (concentric, eccentric, isometric)
  • Challenges your internal balance
  • Uses an integrated approach to program design
  • Incorporates all forms of training (cardio, core, balance, plyometric, speed, agility, quickness, resistance)
  • Integrates training as part of a progressive system
  • Systematic Progression
  • Base movements on the scientific rational of human movement science
  • Addresses existing structural deficiencies
  • Altesr body composition
  • Increases flexibility
  • Enhances posture
  • Improves balance
  • What are the Phases of Training?

  • Stability
  • Strength Endurance
  • Hypertrophy
  • Max Strength
  • Power
  • Phase 1 - Stabilization

    Main Focus : Increase muscular endurance and stability while developing optimal neuromuscular efficiency (coordination).

    Why? Studies show that insufficient stabilization can have a negative effect on the way force is produced by the muscle and increase stress at the joints. Eventually this causes injury.


    • Addresses existing structural deficiencies
    • superior way to alter body composition (reduce body fat) as the body is forced to recruit more muscles to stabilize causing more calories to be expended
    • increases flexibility
    • enhances posture
    • improves balance


    • low load
    • high reps
    • stability ball
    • single leg
    • single arm

    Phase 2 - Strength Endurance

    Main Focus: Maintain stabilization endurance while increasing prime mover strength.

    Why? : Work prime mover to elicit strength, then challenge stabilization muscles to increase ability to maintain postural stabilization and dynamic joint control.


    • increased ability to maintain postural stabilization
    • increased ability to maintain dynamic joint stabilization
    • enhance endurance
    • increase prime mover strength
    • improve overall work capacity
    • enhance joint stabilization
    • increase lean body mass


    • superset
    • moderate loads
    • moderate reps
    • traditional strength exercises superset with a stabilization exercise

    Phase 3 - Hypertrophy

    Main Focus: Maximal muscle growth

    Why? : Bodybuilding


    • Force cellular changes that result in an overall increase in muscle size


    • High volume
    • Mod-High loads
    • Mod-Low Reps

    Phase 4 - Strength

    Main Focus: Maximal Prime Mover Strength

    Why?: Increase motor unit recruitment


    • improve peak force


    • high loads
    • low reps
    • long rest

    Phase 5 - Power

    Main Focus: Development of Speed and Power

    Why?: Enhance prime mover strength while also improving rate of force production (ability to exert maximal output in minimal time.


    • enhance neuromuscular efficiency
    • Develop larger than normal ground forces that can then be used to project the body with a greater velocity or speed of movement.
    • Enhance ability to accelerate, decelerate and dynamically stabilize entire body - especially when running
    • Help nervous system to respond or react more efficient to demands placed on it
    • Reduce body fat
    • Improve movement proficiency
    • Reduce risk of injury during other training activities
    • It's fun and invigorating
    • Increase exercise compliance, adherence, and effectiveness
    • Increase response to unpredictable stimuli
    • Keep constant adaptations rather than plateauing

    Benefits for Seniors:

    • Reduce age-related decreases in bone density, coordinative ability and muscular power
    • Reduce risk of fractures, and reverse osteoporosis
    • Prevent falls
    • Maintain activities of daily life
    • Slow and reverse sarcopenia - age related loss of skeletal muscle mass
    • Maintain functional capacity

    Variables of Training

    Here's a list of the many variables that are taken into consideration when following the NASM Optimum Performance Training Model

    • Repetitions
    • Sets
    • Training intensity
    • Repetition tempo (e.g. 4-2-1, 2-0-2, X-X-X)
    • Training volume
    • Rest interval
    • Training frequency
    • Training duration
    • Loading pattern
      • Vertical
      • Horizontal
    • Exercise selection
      • Plane of motion
      • Single leg/arm, double leg/arm
      • Super sets
      • Giant sets
    • Training modality
      • Cables
      • Dumbbells
      • Stability Ball
      • Bands
      • Machines
      • Barbells


    In conclusion, there are many factors that should be taken into consideration when designing a training program. The 5 Phases provided by NASM considers them all.

    • You should train in all planes of motion (sagittal plane- move front to back such as bicep curls, squats; frontal - move side to side such as karaoke, band walks; transverse - rotate side to side such as a chop and lift)
    • You should train the full muscle spectrum (concentric - lifting the weight, eccentric - descending the weight, isometric - stabilizing the weight)
    • Challenge internal balance and stabilization mechanisms
      • such as using the 4-2-1 tempo - in a bicep curl, curl up in 1 second, hold for 2 seconds at the top, descend the weight for 4 seconds
      • chest press on stability ball
        • Forces body to use stabilizer muscles in rotator cuff, and core - building strength and reducing risk of injury in both
        • Prohibits recruitment of synergist muscles - i.e. using your pectoral muscles (chest muscles) to bench rather than using your traps and shoulders to bench, causing pain and injury
      • single leg deadlift
        • forces body to use medial (center) hamstring muscles rather than lateral (outside) and inside hamstring muscles, causing excess pull on sacrum (low back bones), causing back pain

    G.I. Lane 12 Month Strength Training Plan

    • Compound and Isolated Exercises
    • Warm Up and Cool Down
    • High Intensity and Dynamic

    About the Author Stephanie Lane

    Stephanie is an author, bodybuilder, and blogger. You can check out her latest book here.