Is The Expert Who Says Periodization Doesn’t Matter For Hypertrophy Wrong?

On May 15, 2024, Dr. Mike Israetel, Ph.D. in Sports Physiology, and Menno Henselmans, MSc in Exercise Physiology, debated the importance of periodization for hypertrophy training. Henselmans argued that periodization hypertrophy benefits are exaggerated and less effective than other approaches. Israetel disagrees and asserts that periodization principles are mostly misunderstood and are far less complex than most people think.

Check out the video below, courtesy of Renaissance Periodization’s YouTube channel:

[Related: A Guide to the Best Pre-Workouts in 2024, Tested and RD Approved]

What is Periodization?

Periodization is the manipulation of training variables, such as volume, intensity, and frequency into sequential phases and cyclical periods to maximize gains and minimize injury. There are many different types of periodization, but some of the most common include: (1)

Linear periodization: Gradually increasing the volume, intensity, or frequency of training over time.

Daily undulating periodization (DUP): Alternating between higher and lower rep days.

Block periodization: Dividing training into blocks of several weeks; each block focuses on a different training goal, such as strength, power, and hypertrophy. 

“It is essential to manage fatigue, train hard, and implement progressive overload to promote hypertrophy,” said Henselmans. “When you have these things in order, it doesn’t matter if you use a periodization model or not.” 

Henselmans further argues that DUP and linear periodization are inferior to simple linear progression for promoting muscle gains.

“There is no such thing as daily undulating periodization or linear periodization,” clarifies Israetel. The former is a programming approach, while the latter is a progression method that isn’t truly periodized, as it solely focuses on consistently increasing load.

Israetel defines periodization as the strategic manipulation of training variables to maximize three key qualities:

Rate of gains

Minimization of injury

The ability to peak for maximum performance at a particular time

“Asking if periodization works for hypertrophy is nonsense because everything you do for hypertrophy is necessarily part of the three variables,” said Israetel. An effective periodization program respects the inherent unpredictability of future training adaptations.

Israetel argues that the best periodization approach is autoregulation: adapting your training program based on your body’s feedback. Effective hypertrophy periodization hinges on the principles of specificity (training particular muscle groups), overload, variation, and fatigue management.

Israetel highlights that strategically adjusting training volume and intensity to achieve progressive overload and manage fatigue is a fundamental aspect of periodization.

However, no single periodization program is ideal for maximizing hypertrophy for everyone. Experimentation with specificity, overload, and variation to determine what works best for you is crucial.

A comparative study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that autoregulatory progressive resistance exercise is more effective than linear periodization for promoting strength gains, suggesting potential benefits for long-term muscle growth. (2)

The video concludes with Henselmans partially conceding to Israetel’s viewpoint.


Evans J. W. (2019). Periodized Resistance Training for Enhancing Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength: A Mini-Review. Frontiers in physiology, 10, 13.

Mann, J. B., Thyfault, J. P., Ivey, P. A., & Sayers, S. P. (2010). The effect of autoregulatory progressive resistance exercise vs. linear periodization on strength improvement in college athletes. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 24(7), 1718–1723.

Featured image: @drmikeisraetel on Instagram

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