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Methods of periodisation

The last post on periodisation was a typical example of the structure you might find in any given persons program. Give it a read right here - Periodisation post

This time, I’m going to introduce you to the three most popular styles of periodisation! There are so many different kinds of strength training methods around that it can be difficult to just choose one and stick to it, but most methods follow the same simple rule – progressive overload. Periodisation is no different!

Before we go into the different methods of periodisation, I’ll refresh you on the time frames. These can differ from programme to programme, so I’ll be vague!

  • Macrocycle – often annual, if not longer

  • Mesocycle – from a few weeks to a few months

  • Microcycle – from a single day of training to a whole week

Linear Periodisation

This is the most commonly used style of periodisation, probably because it is the easiest to understand. This involves gradually increasing volume and intensity over the course of several different mesocycles. A good example of linear periodisation is the well-known 5x5 training system – you gradually increase the weight you’re lifting from week to week which results in slow and steady strength gains.

This method is great for beginners and advanced lifters alike, as it gradually increases volume and intensity. It allows adequate time for a newbie to get used to the main lifts and start to see real improvements.

Linear periodisation is also fantastic for advanced athletes as it allows them to identify when they’ll peak in strength – this is important for powerlifters and Olympic athletes when prepping for events.

Undulating Periodisation

This can also be called non-linear periodisation but we like to give things fancy names, so undulating periodisation it is! This differs from linear periodisation because it doesn’t stick to training one variable throughout each of the cycles. It can switch between training variables weekly, bi-weekly, or even during a single session. This means that you could be strength training one day and then training for power the next day.

As various different types of training stimuli are used, this is a slightly more advanced style of periodisation. Training volume, intensity, and exercise types are manipulated frequently – this style may better suit an advanced athlete or other sportsperson who competes at various different times of the year, as it ensures that they are kept on top form by including multiple training styles in the one programme. For example... it’s rugby season and this sport needs strength, power, speed, and agility – the players need to stay at their peak for a long time, so training methods are manipulated to keep them from burning out.

I mentioned that this might be best for an advanced athlete because they presumably have a solid strength base to build from, so could benefit from a mix of training styles. A beginner might be better suited to focussing solely on strength or hypertrophy before focussing on more advanced methods of training.

3. Block Periodisation

Block periodisation is one of the newer styles and is best used for athletes competing in games/competitions multiple times throughout the year. This involves three different stages which come in blocks of up to 4 weeks each. They include: accumulation (low intensity), transmutation (medium intensity), and realisation (high intensity). The focus on this style is to peak/increase only the adaptations that they need for that particular competition/game. For example, an athlete competing in the hammer throw is unlikely to focus on endurance, just as a powerlifter preparing for a competition wouldn’t focus on their agility. This ensures that they are the best that they can be in a single area.

This is a very brief overview of a few different styles of periodisation and what their uses are, the chances are that your exercise programme might even follow a protocol similar to the linear method!

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