When creating an exercise program, periodization can be a beneficial practice. According to “ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer, 2nd Ed”, “Periodization refers to systematic changes in the prescribed volume and intensity during different phases of a resistance training program” (390). Periodization varies with each client, however there are two main categories for periodization, linear and non-linear.
Linear periodization involves regularly increasing intensity over several weeks. An example would be starting the client with 2 sets of 10 reps at 45 pounds of weight and moving them to 2 sets of 8 reps at 55 pounds of weight the week after. This linear increase progresses for several weeks until the exercise cycle ends, (usually 10 to 12 weeks) the client rests for 2 weeks, and then starts the linear periodization over. The client progresses in strength over several months by starting the client out at a slightly higher setting in the next cycle compared to the starting cycle (instead of 2 sets/10 reps/45 pounds, they would start at 2 sets/10 reps/50 pounds).
The other option is non-linear periodization (NLP). NLP has a similar structure to linear peridozation, however in a much smaller time frame. With NLP, a client would go through the 2 sets/10 reps/45 pounds on a Monday, and then do 2 sets/8 reps/55 pounds on a Wednesday. Each week the client would work from a lighter weight/higher reps down to heavier weight/lower reps. The advantage with this training method is it is geared towards people who might have busy schedules. If a client misses their Monday workout, the whole routine is pushed forward. When they come on Wednesday they would do Monday's routine and continue on that training pattern through the 10-12 week cycle. If a client misses another workout, the session is pushed back. This way the client is still working on their exercise goals, while not having to worry about having a fixed schedule.
Both linear and non-linear periodization are great options for your clients. The key with both programs is utilizing variation, which can help the clients avoid plateauing and eventually attaining their goals.