Steve Brown, M.S., C.S.C.S.
USD Strength and Conditioning Coach

Periodization of Strength

Periodization is the process of structuring training into phases. During different times of the year, training programs vary in the length or number of repetitions in a training session (volume) and the percentage of one's maximum capacity (Intensity). In strength training, the number of repetitions in a training session or training phase represent the volume of training. The amount of weight lifted in proportion to a person's 1-repetition maximum (1 RM), the speed of performance, and the technical difficulty of the exercise contribute to the intensity. The purpose of Periodization is to cause the muscle to continually adapt to new conditions of overload and to allow the muscles to recover from the stress of training.

There are six basic training phases that may be utilized during a yearly training cycle. The hypertrophy phase (also referred to as the adaptation phase) involves high volume and low-to moderate intensity. The purpose of this phase is to generate a training base or foundation from which to build upon.

The basic strength phase involves moderate volume and high intensity. The number of repetitions decreases from the hypertrophy phase, but the percentage of 1-RM increases during this phase.

The power phase involves low volume and high to very high intensity. The purpose of this phase is to recruit the fast twitch muscle fibers. To accomplish this, most exercises must be performed at near-maximum weight. However, other exercises are performed with little weight, but at a high velocity of movement.

The endurance phase is employed for activities that require a high level of muscular endurance or general endurance. It involves high volume and low to moderate intensity. Whereas strength is converted to power during the power phase by including the component of speed, strength is converted to endurance by increasing the duration of the exercise. Muscular endurance is a combination of high strength development and adequate endurance.

The maintenance phase is used by athletes during their competitive season. The volume varies with the competitive schedule, and intensity is high. During this phase the number of exercises is reduced dramatically. The exercises used involve the major muscle groups. Following the competitive season, there is a transition phase known as active rest. During this phase little or no lifting is performed, and emphasis is on recovery from the competitive season. Often, activities and games not related to your sport are encouraged to maintain conditioning levels.

The construction of a yearly training program (macrocycle) requires the timely alteration of training phases for the purpose of peaking for the competitive season. Depending upon the metabolic requirements of a particular sport, certain training phases may be incorporated more than once while other may not be used at all.

For optimal results, training phases should last approximately 3-6 weeks. In addition, week-to week variation of intensity will ensure that muscles recover properly throughout the cycle. A precisely planned program can actually cause an overcompensation effect. That is, the muscle's energy stores will be greater than they were prior to the workout. Workouts that are timed to occur during the overcompensation lead to greater gains in strength, power or endurance.

General Information
Periodization Schedule
Strength Workouts
Endurance Workouts
Power Workouts
Interval Workouts
Nickosen Poem