Periowhatnow?!

Alright, calm down, I know its been a while. I am back, and with a vengence! I will now attempt to churn out a badass blog for all you members of the Rebellion out there every month, and for the next few blogs I want to have a bit of a rant about some phrases that are being thrown about, cause they are ‘sexy’. First onto the chopping block, the P word.

Periodization-

So lets start off with the basics, what the hell is periodization, and how the hell do you periodize a program? Periodization is the staggered, organization of a training program into manageable, workable units, each with its own specific purpose. Now, each of these blocks serve their own individual purpose, but all together lead to an ultimate training goal, not just per block, but entire training cycle. Ok, I know that’s a lot to take on, so lets back track and break this down. So, as I said, we are looking to deal with workable blocks of training, each with its own goal. Ok? Cool!

 

Right, so, when we take these blocks we have a training cycle. These individual cycles are all pieces of a greater training cycle.

Ok, so lets look at the various different types of training cycle:

– Training session:A training session is a single workout, designed to fulfill a specific purpose. Whether this purpose is to achieve more reps on a movement, add more weight to a movement, or improve technique in a specific movement, there must be a purpose. For example, if your looking to improve your Clean, then each session which is dedicated to the Clean should be programmed specifically to your goal of improving your Clean. If there are exercises which are not condusive to your goal, dump it!

– Microcycle: the recruitment of a number of training sessions, blocked together working towards a specific goal.

– Mesocycle: A cycle made up of many microcycles designed around one specific development of athleticism, such as developing muscle mass, strength, power, endurance etc.

– Macrocycle: All of the mesocycles are put together to achieve the ultimate goal of the entire training process. These macrocycles can be a yearlong process and should be centred on an ultimate goal, rather than something like putting 2.5lbs on their bench each weak. An example would be the ultimate goal of putting an extra 200lbs on your Powerlifting total.

One day, with great programming, you too could be aspire to be Ed Coan.
Ok, so hopefully this should all make sense now. As we can see the whole point of a periodized program is to work towards an ultimate goal, by focusing on cycles which develop the things that you need in order to get these goals. The nature of periodization in linear, so its no wonder that the most common form of periodization is known as western, or, linear periodization.
Western Periodization: It wont make you Clint Eastwood, but it will make you jacked!

So when we look at linear periodization, generally speaking we are looking at a hypertrophy phase, a transition phase, a power phase and strength phase. These are all individual mesocyles which will be programmed in a manner which will support our goals, as defined in the macrocycle.

The each phase is a percentage based program which over the whole course of macrocycle will see a reduction in volume and an increase in intensity. The reasons for this being can be explained using some simple graphs.

Strength curve

 

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So, above we have a really basic strength curve chart. What we can see here is that when train at maximal intensity, i.e. using our maximal strength, the reps/duration is really low. Yet, when we have high volume, i.e. high reps/duration, our intensity is really low. Thus, working at high intensity low reps is working our maximal strength, where as working in a range of low intensity, and high volume is used for muscular conditioning and hypertrophy. Thus within linear periodization we see a reduction of reps as the focus of the training moves to strength development. This is best shown in Prileprin’s chart, which illustrates a generic outline of the optimal percentages, reps and rest periods to achieve certain goals.

Prilepin’s Chart
So what would a linear periodized program look like? Kinda like this:
Sample chart 1: Hypertrophy
Week
Sets
Reps
Rest minutes
Intensity
1
5
6
2
75%
2
5
6
2
77%
3
4
5
2
79%
4
4
5
2
82%
Sample Chart 2: Power
Week
Sets
Reps
Rest minutes
Intensity
1
3
4
3
85%
2
3
4
3
87%
3
3
3
4
91%
4
3
3
4
93%
Sample Chart 3: Strength
Week
Sets
Reps
Rest minutes
Intensity
1
3
3
5
95%
2
2
2
5
97%
3
2
2
5
98%
4
1
1
5
99%
So what are the downsides?:
As with any program there are going to be pitfalls and issues. There are a number of issues that I have found with this system of periodization:
       It’s a percentage based program

       It starts with high volume

       It has only one peak

 

Now, I am not attacking periodization, I love periodization. In fact, I would buy it  a nice sea food dinner and call it again for a second date, but as with any program, and any beautiful girl, there are always flaws.As a percentage based program, it can be difficult to calculate the training at any one time. No just simply because of the difference between competition max, and maximal strength, or even calm state max, but because its very difficult to say if in any of these states one is using a true representation of their absolute strength at any one time. We can make correlations between rep ranges and intensity, but the fact remains that some days, despite having the strength for a 500lb deadlift triple, we just wont be able to do it, simple as.

Equally, what must be considered as well is the fall out of finishing the cycle deloading and then going back to low intensity, high volume training. These long breaks are detrimental because motor abilities are constructed and retained at differing rates, which are entirely specific to each individual. According to scientific research (Zimkin et al), as much as 10-15% of an athletes strength can be lost after a period of three weeks. So if an athlete has lost 15% of his max, and his training cycle starts at 62% of his max, then surely he is actually training at 72% of his max, which will prevent him from following the required rep scheme set out by the periodization. Thus leaving the lifter to assume that hopefully his strength will catch up with the intensity.

Now I know what you are thinking, athletes like football or Rugby players are not Weightlifters, nor are they Powerlifters, but when you think about it the principal is the same. Who the hell wants to be getting weaker? Nobody, that’s who!

You think these guys want to get weaker?!

 

So how can this be combated? Well, via taking 10% of a 1RM we are able to establish a training max, or a lift that can be accomplished come rain, shine, or the end of the world. Thus, providing that if one is sensible with ones selection of percentages, i.e if we are working off a competition max taking as much as 20% off ones max, we can remove the issue of the strength fade after the peak. Jim Wendler is an advocate of this process in his 5/3/1 training program.

Thou shalt not take the name of Jim Wendler in vain
  Also, why not throw out a percentage based progression all together. As we know with percentages we run into the difficulties stated above. As such, why not work to a scheme in which the body is working to its maximal capacity for a set rep range every training session, whilst of course maintaining the parameters of each mesocycle. That way if your body is fatigued at least you will still allow the body to get in the volume that it needs in order to cause CNS/muscular adaptations, whilst not being left in the lurch hoping that your strength will catch up with your programming.

As I said, this is not an attack on periodization, in fact we have plans tonight, but I digress. All programs have their pitfalls, issues, and things that we think just plain suck. However, remember that what may suck for one person, may be the Holy Grail to another. Periodization is a sound principal based in science, this cannot be disputed. Why? Cause it works, that’s why! Take the principals, run with it, adapt if you feel necessary, but remember, don’t go nuts. If you are making gains at a rate that you are happy with, and that are reasonable, i.e. don’t freak out cause you are not swole as all hell by the end of the first month, and you will be fine.

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

Rogan

For any information or questions regarding the blog, or for any information regarding my services as a Personal Trainer, please contact me via my Facebook Page, Twitter, Email, or in the comment section below.

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Email: rebellionstrengthhq@gmail.com


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