Sometimes I wonder if periodization needs to be as complex as it’s written about. Then I realize that guys like Louie Simmons claim that it doesn’t exist, and then I remember that we now have block periodization, the conjugate method, and undulating periodization. More problematic, some of Louie Simmons’s students believe that progressive overload will only get you so far. But I think that type of thinking is due to a dearth of scope when looking at periodization and overload.

So to start, and to make it easier, periodization is setting your training up into various periods with a specific focus during each one. And we can look to Zatsiorsky as the impetus of all of our favorite new periodization models. In that particular text, he talks about everyone’s favorite type of training: linear periodization, which is a focus on one thing during a given period.

For example, if you’re training for a strength competition, like powerlifting, you’d have various cycles starting with hypertrophy, and ending with max strength and more specificity as you get closer to game day. And this type of programming typically trends towards a larger cycle of 12-16 weeks. So if you were prepping for a meet, your first four weeks of training are for hypertrophy, with a focus on high volume and low intensity. As the weeks travel on, you start to focus on power, with the intensity going up a bit, and the volume decreasing. For the final four weeks, your intensity goes up and the volume goes down as you build highly specific max strength in the given competition lifts.

In addition to the linear periodization models, there exist non-linear models of periodization. Now, in general, they look very different on paper. But for simplicity, we can look at it with an easier lens. While a typical linear program lasts 12-16 weeks (or is comprised of several cycles of that for an athletic season) an easy way to look at some of the non-linear models is to compress these long training cycles into shorter ones. So instead of focusing on hypertrophy, max strength, and power over a long period of time, you focus on them in shorter spans of time. And the results can vary depending on the goal or the coach, but hopefully a nice blend of the two so with that in mind, a given week can look like this:

  • Day One – Strength (for a main lift like a squat or deadlift), Hypertrophy for other accessory lifts
  • Day Two – Strength (for a different main lift), Hypertrophy for the necessary and related accessory lifts
  • Day Three – Power (for the main lift), Hypertrophy
  • Day Four – Power (for another main lift), Hypertrophy
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