Common types of Periodization

December 13th, 2009 by

Research on periodized versus non-periodized programs clearly show the that former trumps the latter in every aspect — strength and power, muscular endurance, muscle and performance. There are a number of different periodization models, the most known probably being the original model of linear periodization. With linear periodization, the reps are decreased with a simultaneous increase in load/intensity with each successive ‘phase’ which generally last three to four weeks. For example, phase one 15 reps, phase two 12 reps, phase three 10 reps, phase four 8 reps, etc. We’ll consider this more of an “old school” approach as it has a number of different drawbacks as it relates to hypertrophy and strength retention. An improvement on this model was the alternating model of periodization where the trainee switches between higher reps and lower reps at each phase, For example, phase one 15 reps, phase two 8 reps, phase three 12 reps, phase four 6 reps, etc. The different phases would be characterized by high loads/low volume (intensity phase) and low loads/high volume (volume phase) and this model addresses a number of the linear model shortcomings.

However, another periodization model that has gained in popularity in recent years is one termed Undulating Periodization. This is basically a non-linear model that takes the fluctuation of training variables one step further by adjusting loading parameters much more frequently. With an undulating program, the intensity and volume change as often as every day of training. So with undulating periodization, training volume and intensity are increased and decreased on a regular basis, but not in the general pattern of always increasing intensity and decreasing volume as the training period progresses (like the linear model does). But is it better? Well, that’s hard to answer with certainty; it’s different, but with some clear advantages to the individual seeking and maintaining maximum strength and size gains. In fact, recently published research by Dr. Matthew Rhea from Arizona State University has shown that undulating periodization may be superior to traditional linear or alternating periodization models in inducing strength gains. So it’s not just theoretical bantering as there’s research coming out showing its effectiveness.

BACK: Periodization of the Undulating Type
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