FSB Step 5: Progression and Periodization

The Fight Shape Blueprint

Step 5: Progression and Periodization

If you walk into the gym and think to yourself, “So, what do I feel like doing today?” then you’re likely missing out on these two important pieces of the performance puzzle.

The resulting workout probably looks the same every time – you’ll gravitate towards the exercises and weights you’re comfortable with and you’ll never make any progress.


Plus, if there’s any interruption in your schedule, such as for travel, illness or anything else, you’ll never know where you left off and will continue to run on the hamster wheel without going anywhere.

This is the difference between TRAINING and WORKING OUT.

Athletes TRAIN.

People who make the same New Years Resolution every January WORKOUT.

Training is when you have a program designed to get you to your goal and you progress according to the rules of the program.

Working out is when your goal is merely to “get a good workout” or “work up a sweat” and you just wing it and don’t have a clear plan of progression.

That’s why in order to make long-term progress and continue to build month after month and year after year, you need these 3 things:

  1. A properly designed program for your goals
  2. To TRACK all of your workouts including sets, reps and weights
  3. The knowledge of how to progress the program over time, both workout-to-workout and phase-to-phase

When you properly put these 3 things together, synergy happens and your results go through the roof.

The previous steps we’ve discussed in the Fight Shape Blueprint content series give you the groundwork on what components you need as a part of your strength and conditioning program, such as:

  • Proper flexibility and mobility so you can perform every exercise with proper technique...
  • Phase-based resistance training workouts based on the movement patterns and biomotor abilities...
  • Both cyclic and acyclic conditioning workouts to ensure you develop COMPLETE conditioning...

Once you have these components in place, you must track every workout you do.

The reason why is simple – think about an exercise you’re doing right now and answer this: how much were you doing for this exercise a month ago? 2 months ago? A year ago?

If you have no idea, my guess is the # is similar to what it is now.

This is why you need a record of all of your workouts, so you can check back to make sure you’re making progress.

You could use a small notebook, but this can be tedious as you’ll then have to write the name of every exercise you do over and over.

Instead, it’s much more EFFICIENT to have a standardized training template where you can see an entire phase of your program on one page.

Here’s an example of the template I’ve been using with great success for years from the January 2014 Workout of the Month:


Right click here and choose ‘Save As’ for a blank PDF version you can use for your workouts.

This template lays out your program and allows you to easily see your progress from workout-to-workout.

But, if you’re looking for something more powerful…

I’ve developed a workout tracking tool that you get as a powerDOJO member with some advanced functionality.

Watch this short minute-long vid to see it in action:


So now you’ve got 2 of the keys to making long-term progress…

The final key is the knowledge of how to progress your program over time includes how to progress the workout itself, as well as the microcycle (week-to-week) and mesocycle (phase-to-phase).

Proper progression is what PERIODIZATION is all about and applying this scientific concept is your ticket to ultimate performance.

When you know how to do this, your workouts become much more streamlined and efficient and there’s absolutely no need for you to be in the gym for more than an hour or more than 3 days/week of doing S&C workouts.

It’s the “secret sauce” I’ve used for my professional fighters that allows them to achieve maximum performance while also maintaining a heavy training load and avoiding overuse injuries.

All of the programs I create and publish, even the free CAGE Cardio workouts I’ve posted include instructions on how to properly progress the workout over time.

When you switch your workouts up too often, your body gets confused and doesn’t know what to adapt to, whether it’s strength, improved aerobic conditioning or enhanced power, for example.

But when you stick with your program and progress intelligently, the sky is the limit to how much you can improve.

To dive deeper into this topic, watch this video presentation on Periodization:


As always, if you’ve got any questions or comments, hit me up below!


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5 years ago

Hey Eric,
This sounds great. Quick question – how flexible are the plans? Specifically, I run 2-3 days/week because I am training for obstacle course races. I’ll typically have an easy run on Tuesdays, hills or speed intervals on Thursdays, and a long 1-2 hour run on Sundays. Can I keep this up and use your WoMs, or somehow work the running in?

Cliff Redford
Cliff Redford
5 years ago

Hey Eric. I had great success with your HFS program so Im looking forward to joining your power dojo program. I am 42 (or on Friday the 17th I will be 42) and 2 years ago I tore my ACL at a judo tournament. I am back to competing but am looking forward to dropping to the 66 kg division and becoming a new kind of fighter…fast and agile and flexible…shiais start again late October, Nationals are in May.
How do I sign up?

5 years ago

Hey Eric

Need doing your MMA strength and conditioNing. I’m at strength phase. I have be diagnose with PTSD ( posttraumatic stress disorder) I had a panic attack when I try to lift the weight. Guessing I cant lift too heavy. Is there any way to built up strength ? Should I decrease the weights but continue the same rep and set as recommended in the strength phase ?