exercise into manageable progressive phases has been around
since the ancient Greek times.
In our modern time, Dr. Tudor Bompa published his theory on
Periodization in 1963 and has since continued to amend the
application of the Periodization concept as science progresses.
Bompa has published many books on Periodization including
four editions of "The Theory and Methodology of Training"
textbooks and training guides for sports. Bompa's books have
been translated into eighteen languages, and have sold close
to one million copies around the world, as well as being standard
textbooks in many universities. His book, "Serious Strength
Training", is the most popular strength training book
in the world. While many training ideas have come and gone
with some being very questionable, the solid scientific principles
of Periodization have withstood the test of over 2000 years
of critical review, and modern scientific scrutiny.
is a system of planning that uses sequential "periods"
or phases of physical exercise or training, each phase
serving as logical preparation for the next, culminating in
peak performance for competition for athletes, or in reaching
a certain physical goal for non-athletes. Physical modalities
of training include tactical competency, skill, strength,
speed, power, endurance, and flexibility. Each modality and
phase of training has specific physical tasks that are developed
and tested before moving to the next phase. The length of
each phase is generalized, with each athlete adapting at the
rate his or her individual genetics will allow.
serves to monitor and manipulate the known training, fatigue,
recovery, and supercompesation cycle of physical training.
The ultimate goal of Periodization is to produce peak fitness
in the athlete just as the athletes' critical competitions
for the season arrive. Because of this ultimate goal, Periodization
is plotted over an annual plan that correlates with the pre-season,
competitive season, and transition phases of the specific
graph below shows one year of training. However, this basic
concept is also implemented in shorter repeating cycles, each
one building on the next. In general early season or preparatory
training is comprised of low intensity and a moderate to high
volume of training. As the athlete becomes more fit and enters
the pre-competitive and competitive season, intensity is increased.
Because a high volume of high intensity will burn a person
out, generally volume decreases as a persons intensity increases.
Just prior to competitions a "taper" is used. During
a taper both volume and intensity decrease allowing for maximal
recovery and peak performance for critical competitions. Tapers
are critical and are carefully planned.
that's athletes, but can Periodization help if I'm not an
is born out of the basic physiological adaptation that any
human has to various levels of exercise. Periodization in
the simplest terms is a plan we use to avoid placing the cart
before the horse. We all have days when we're tired, days
when we feel more energetic. Periodization is a method of
managing our daily exercise depending on how we feel, what
we are trying to achieve, and how fit we are at the time.
Typically one years worth of exercise has a progression of
easy exercise followed by slightly harder exercise, followed
by a bit of recovery, and followed again by a conservative
increase. This pattern is repeated over and over. Periodization
is the road map we use to plot our course.
is an example of how a basic week of aerobic exercise may
of a week of aerobic recovery exercise or exercise for a beginner:
exercise can be recorded back to Philostratus, an ancient
Greek scholar who wrote about the "Tetra" or "Tetrad"
system; a four day cycle consisting of (days) 1) short and
energetic 2) Intensive exercise 3) Recovery 4) Moderate exercise
(see graph below). Philostratus also questioned an over dependence
on this system: "While the gymnastes (the coaches) are
following this fixed routine of the tetrad, they pay no attention
to the condition of the athlete they are training, even though
he is being harmed by his food, his wine, the secret snacks
he eats, mental strain and fatigue. ... How can we train by
a schedule of tetrads?" -(Philostratus Gymnasticus)
while it was noted that a training plan included easy, moderate,
hard, and rest days, it was also noted that the application
of this plan should be dependent on the daily condition of
the athlete, and that stresses other than exercise alone must
be considered when implementing effective exercise. Philostratus
also recommended a variety of exercises including running,
weight lifting, balance training, and flexibility training.
In essence, Philostratus wrote about what the modern interpretation
of Periodization entails. Take note; if someone claims to
have "the latest" secret training methods, chances
are they are merely an opportunist. As can be seen in the
writings of Philostratus, the accent Greeks had the same challenges
and training fads that we witness today. Physical training
really has not changed that much in 2000 years namely because
humans haven't changed much (biologically), but the ability
to accurately measure the effects of training has improved
significantly allowing us to determine the duration and intensity
of individuals training with greater precision.
of a "Tetra" or "Tetrad" influenced sequence
of training; most modern training is influenced by this daily
exercise progression which is over 2000 years old:
most popular application of Periodization is with resistance
training, although complete athlete Periodization plans are
more complex with overlapping progressions of strength speed,
power, and endurance as some of the primary physical components
of the plan.
simplicities sake, a generalized weight training routine to
build muscle mass, strength, and power, would place hypertrophy
and strength before power. Let's say you have a goal to lift
a heavy weight with power, and you want bigger muscles too.
Lifting your maximum weight in 2 seconds requires more power
than lifting your maximum in 3 seconds, but to increase the
maximum weight you can lift requires more strength, and if
you are well trained you may need bigger muscles to increase
strength beyond initial neural adaptations. How do we use
these ideas to build a Periodized plan to increase your peak
power at your maximum strength?
plan may look something like this (simplified):
8 to 12 weeks 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 rep max
4 to 6 weeks 3 to 4 sets of 4 to 6 rep max
4 weeks 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps with focus on speed of
+ power combo 2 to 4 weeks 1 - 8 rep max
reality each phase blends into the next; there is seldom an
you started with power training first, you would limit your
potential as you could only work with your current peak strength
and your peak strength may be limited by muscle size. You
may become injured or overtrained because peak power training
is very stressful. You may need a higher degree of training
before your body can tolerate and benefit from power training.
So step by step you progress towards your goals.
simplified plan progresses from lower stress to higher stress
training. Each "period" of training increases some
aspect of your performance that allows you to progress to
the next level. It may take weeks or months of prepetory training
before you actually engage in the specific training that ultimately
achieves your goal. But with your logically laid out Periodization
plan you can see your road to success. - Some athletes are
on 5 year plans to bring out peak performance.
written in stone
making the mistake of following a plan "to the letter".
In fact, doing so guarantees less than optimal results from
exercise. A plan is only a prediction, and like all predictions
(weather for example) there are events we just cannot account
for, no matter how sophisticated our method of prediction
is. Use your plan as a guideline and be sure to continually
amend your plan through daily management of exercise.
that call for "long runs" on each and every Sunday
or any exercise to always be done on specific days are
far too rigid. The same applies to weight training. For instance
a weight training plan that calls for chest and back exercises
on Mondays and shoulders and arms on Tuesdays will definitely
conflict with its self within 21 days because the rate that
an individual recovers from exercise is variable. What if
you're sick on training day? What if your muscles hurt? What
if you are still fatigued from the previous days exercise
or even from helping a friend move furniture? Use common sense.
Keep your plan flexible, adapt your exercise as your body
adapts to various stresses of exercise and daily life. This
isn't about being a strict taskmaster, it's about effectively
managing your exercise.
Resting Heart Rate Of Athlete
the above graph it can be seen that the resting HR values
for this person follow a fairly, but not entirely, predictable
pattern; an increase/ decrease cycle about every 3 to 4 days,
depicting phases of fatigue, recovery, and adaptation. Clearly
if a pre-made Periodization plan had hard training days falling
on fatigued days only a negative effect could be expected.
This person amended their plan to account for fatigue and
recovery. Others make the mistake of following plans like
an automaton resulting in periodic benefits followed by plateau's
and overall less than optimal gains. Espousing the dogma of
Periodization is common, so watch out for those who are sticklers
for detailed lengthy plans using platitudes like "finish
what you start", and "follow the plan", but
without employing effective methods to monitor, validate,
and amend the plan continuously.
to popular belief, Periodization does not dictate a shift
in training on a certain day or month merely because the day
in question arrives. Such training is futile, but popular
nonetheless. The correct application of Periodization is to
gradually introduce new levels of complexity and intensity
when it is clear the individual is physically ready to move
human adaptation to exercise is reasonably well studied, we
can accurately predict the average time it takes
a person to adapt to certain exercise movements and intensities.
Periodization uses this foundation to build a road map to
progressive training, then employs sound scientific measurements
of an individuals performance variables to amend the program
as frequently as possible to maximize individual gains. It's
these amendments that make any training work as each person
adapts at their own pace due to their genetics and personal
circumstances. A common error in coaching whether self coaching
or professional coaching is to depend on the computed averages
as absolute training values instead of individualizing
each persons training based on measuring each individual.
Bompa and others have used "Periodization" to explain
physical adaptation to exercise, and to logically create and
apply training programs.
easiest way to get started on a "new you" or to
improve athletic performance is to follow a logical progression
of exercise. Learn what to realistically expect from exercise,
then follow a simple, progressive plan that's flexible enough
to absorb your individual rate of adaptation, as well as variables
beyond your control.
Fitness founder Cris LaBossiere has been using Periodization
since 1987 with athletes and is certified through the Tudor
Bompa Training Institute as a Periodization Planning Specialist.
Fitness uses the scientific principals of Periodization, but
due to the emphatically known individual variability in training
adaptation we no longer create Periodization plans that detail
an entire year. Such plans details are amended so frequently
that writing out 12 months of training in advance became futile
and entirely unscientific. Our
training programs are specifically individualized and monitored
weekly and daily if needed. Our real time remodeling plans
are the most advanced application of Perdiodization available.
2003-2007 Rhino Fitness