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Fix Your Periodization Knowledge

by Carlo Buzzichelli Whether I’m instructing my students at the Tudor Bompa Institute of Italy, or my students at the University of Sport Science in Camaguey (Cuba), or if I’m lecturing for a sport federation, I spend at least two hours explaining all of the concepts related to periodization that are presented in the following image:

In this image I’ve listed the smallest components of every theory on planning the training process. In fact, before we discuss which planning and programming method is better suited for a certain situation, we should agree on the terminology; and even more important, the very concepts that form the theory of planning and programming the training.

Again. b) The Periodization of the Conditional Motor Capacities (aka bio-motor abilities). speed and endurance to an optimal level for sport performance. In reality. Periodization of Training As Prof. when the latter . which enables one to develop the motor capacities: strength. Typically we may observe critics of periodization confusing programming with planning. many coaches confuse sequential with linear.e. their plans would still entail a division of the year into smaller periods and a periodization of conditional motor capacities. This doesn’t invalidate the concept of periodization itself. is the act of filling said structure with actual content. the structure within which the training process will take place. periodization refers to two important aspects of planning and programming the training: a) The Periodization of the Annual Plan which. we have a periodized plan. we may design as many periodized plans as necessary. it would not be applicable to modern team sports. which is based on the misconception that periodization is “classically” linear.e. i. Thus. Given what has been just stated. thereby. each time we have a division of the year into smaller phases and a sequence of development for each conditional motor capacity. i. the actual training modalities. however. by dividing the year into smaller training phases. Thus. if we were to analyze what these coaches actually do. makes it easier to manage the training and peaking processes. Tudor Bompa writes. Such debate is actually just a discussion of the macrocycle load progression. This should bring to mind the discussion of linear vs non-linear periodization. Furthermore. relative to the possible situations we may encounter in the sport training process. This would only be true if one combination of all the factors were possible.Planning and Programming First. on the other hand. Some critics of periodization state that it was born for individual sports that include a long preparation phase and a short competitive phase. Programming. Planning may be defined as the long and mid-term strategy that regulates the training process. satisfying the requirements to define those schemes as “periodized plans”. criticizing the latter broader concept on the basis of some evidence that one particular method works better than another. let’s define planning and programming. which have a short preparation period and a very long competitive period.

as it should be. bi or tri cyclic. on The Effects of Autoregulatory Progressive Resistance Exercise vs Linear Periodization on Strength Improvements in College Athletes. a common practice using RM training in hypertrophy macrocycles. in maximal strength macrocycles. and educated. which required very long training periods during which time the body was supposed to go thru a “mathematical” progression. De facto. autoregulation may be utilized as a load regulating method within a periodized plan. within a training year. determines if a plan is mono. sub-phases. The mechanistic rigidity often associated with the concept of periodization is probably based on the linear periodization of strength popularized in the US in the 80’s. Periodization of the Annual Plan I will not spend much time on the periodization of the annual plan. macrocycles and microcycles.applies to the load progression. where more advanced coaches tend to favor sets of explosive concentrics not taken to failure. in fact. . A similar situation has been sparked by the study by Mann et al. in a cyclic fashion. such kind of autoregulation is not a novelty. of the preparatory. and the former to either the integration or development of motor capacities. This study practically compares autoregulatory RM training with a pre-fixed percentage/load linear progression. and to a lesser extent. Thus. competitive and transitory phases. periodized strategies of the best coaches who base the load determination on a continuous feed-forward/feedback/adjustment process. Such an approach has little to do with the more sophisticated. It is. as well as that the number of repetitions. as most of you are probably familiar with the concepts of phases.


in reference to the periodization of strength. The four elements that differentiate each theory and methodology of planning and programming of training. are: 1) Integration of the conditional motor capacities 2) Development of each conditional motor capacity throughout the plan 3) Degree of Specificity of the training means throughout the plan 4) Load progression . speed and endurance.Periodization of the Conditional Motor Capacities Much more important is to describe the concepts related to the periodization of conditional motor capacities.

the indexes of the trained conditional motor capacity quality are improved. speed and endurance are emphasized at different times during the annual plan (concentrated loading). This can happen at different levels: a) Training Unit. two qualities of a conditional motor capacity are trained in alternative fashion (for example maximum strength followed by power followed by maximum strength followed by power). b) A delayed realization. speed strength and muscular endurance are all trained in the microcycle. all the qualities of a conditional motor capacity are trained simultaneously (for example maximum strength.Integration The integration of the conditional motor capacities refers to the way each motor capacity is trained in the annual plan. c) Macrocycle. The loading parameters for the sequential approach can be manipulated in such a way to have either: a) An immediate realization. maximum strength. the qualities of a conditional motor capacity are trained sequentially (for example anatomical adaptation followed by maximum strength followed by power). 3) Pendular. speed strength and muscular endurance). speed and endurance are all trained at the same time. 2) Sequential. speed strength and muscular endurance are trained with this sequence within the single training unit. in different training units. at the end of the macrocycle. in relation to the others. speed strength and muscular endurance are trained throughout the macrocycle. the indexes of the trained conditional motor capacity quality are depressed but improve later on (aka planned overreaching). We can have two strategies: a) Complex: strength. maximum strength. We can have three different approaches: 1) Complex. In such kind of plans. usually it’s strength that is separated from the development of speed (for example. b) Microcycle. during dedicated microcycles. b) Sequential: strength. . Development The concept of development of a conditional motor capacity refers to the way each conditional motor capacity is trained during the annual plan. Verkhoshansky’s strength block). at the end of the macrocycle. maximum strength.

O Step p Loading Flat Loading Mi icro 2 Mi icro 3 Mi icro 4 . The macrocycle m ca an be undulated u by alternating g microcycles of differe ent load (Co olumn 1. A cyclic. to be an inferior wa ay of applying a pro ogressive ov verload. undulating u a and self-adjusting mod del is certainly c more adequat te to elicit continuous and positiv ve morpho-f functional ad daptations. In fact. E play yers use the ball (specific training m mean) from day one of the relatively short prepar ration period p (in which w the trai ining of cond ditional motor capacities s still domin nates) and mi ight play the e first friendly gam me after only y 5-7 days of f preparation n (specific lo oading param meter). f it’s ver ry unlikely that t a biolog gical system m progresses in a mechanical/ m /mathematica al fashion over o time. where t the number of o teams is s small. Thu us the prepa aration perio od is longer than what we w have in E Europe. typical l specific pre eparation ma acrocycle set t-up). and d 2) or by pl lacing a delo oad microcyc cle at the en nd of it. typical gen neral preparation macrocycle m set-up) or be e flat (Colum mn 4. For instance. in Europe. both b scienti ifically and empirically y. 6 5 4 Mi icro 1 3 2 1 0 nding Ond. Dur ring their gen neral preparation. Load L Progr ression Linear L load ding has bee en proven. sh hould be tak ken into con nsideration when w design ning a period dized plan. Ascen Descending Ond. The previous loa ading microcycle m can have th he load prog gressed either in steps (Column 3. the co ompetitive se eason is i short. Such characteristi c ics can. A we can c have two o different approaches a f the use of for o specific t training mea ans. Allow m me to provide p you u with an example e of what happe ens in the world w of foo otball (socce er) training.Specificity of o the Train ning Means Again. ma acrocycle so ometime use ed by Cuban C weightlifters. On the other han nd. or better b yet. p the training g is much more m concent trated on the e improvement of the conditional motor m capacities c th han on the us se of specific means (the e ball) and lo oading param meters. p The un ndulation can n take place at the macrocycle and microcycle m l level. . i in some third world w countr ries. I have called such approaches sequential (when the use u of general g train ning means precede p the use of speci ific training means) and complex (w when general and specific train ning means are a used sim multaneously y). For F the sake e of terminol logy consiste ency.

and by th he placemen nt of testing at the end of f each macro ocycle. On the “programm ming side”. should en nable the t coaches to have theo oretical intui itions on how w the bodies s of their ath hletes work and a change upon u the t applicati ion of the tr raining stim muli. Thus. along a with b basic exercis se physiolog gy knowledg ge.  you  can  pre‐order  Ca arlo’s  200+ pages ebook e  for $ 24 4. .  he  is  also  an  ad djunct  professor    of  “Planning  and a   Program mming  of  Training”  at  the e  University  of  Sport  Scie ence  and  Phy ysical  Culture  in  Ca amaguey  (Cuba).    . rat Periodizatio P ther it’s a bu undle of met thodological l concepts whose w application we w adapt to specific situ uations. the readiness r to o change the e daily prog gram accord ding to their r . assessm ment and ad djustment of the program p is paramount p in n to achieve the maximu um possible results. Conclusion n is not set in stone. the const tant monitor ring.  Carlo  re ecently  wrote e  a  comprehe ensive  manual  for  strength  &  conditio oning  coaches  entit tled  “Periodiz zation. For this t reason. 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 Load Pro ogression in a Competitive C  M Microcycle (Wee ekly Match) Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun The T self-adj djusting char racteristic is obtained via the con nstant moni itoring of the t athletes. Co oaches should be aware a of the e existence of o different planning p mod dels that are more indica ated for certa ain sports an nd for certain c athle ete’s develop pmental lev vels.  Metho odology  of  Pl lanning  and  Programming P g  of  Training”.99 by conta acting him at s strength_coa ach@usa. k knowing the e methodolo ogical concepts c rel lated to prog gramming.The T undulat tion of the load within n the micro ocycle follows the very y important t methodolo ogical concepts c of energy syst tems and loa ad alternatio on. r Carlo  Buzzich helli  is  the  Technical  Director  of  the  Tu udor  Bompa  Institute  –  Int ternational.  coach c   of  élite  level  sprinters s   and d  strength  &  conditioning  coach  for  professional  football  (soccer)  teams. In the ca ase of compe etitive micro ocycles. permitting p co oaches to foresee the morpho-funct m ional adaptations a they seek.  If  you  are  willing w   to t   expand  yo our  knowledg ge  on  periodi ization  of  stre ength. the need for post-co ompetition recovery r an nd pre-com mpetition de eloading sh hould also be taken into consideratio c on. it can take many m differe ent forms. the objectiv ve data colle ected during d the tr raining session. Nevertheles ss.  speed  and  endurance.