Strength Training: A Periodization Model

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Strength Training: A Periodization Model

As a coach one of the common things I hear when I’m talking to people about their strength training is that they’re banging away just trying to go heavier and heavier week on week.

Training in this way may get you results up to a point, but you’re going to hit a plateau at some point. In addition, if you’re always lifting at a 100% repetition max (RM) load (i.e. that maximum load you can lift for a given number of reps) you are constantly subjecting your body to a high level of stress that will result in a lot of fatigue & may in the long term result in over training.

The fact is you don’t have to max out every session to get stronger.

A system I have used with a lot of clients/athletes over the years is a step loading system varying loads across a training cycle between 80-105% of a rep max load. The loading pattern that has worked consistently for me is 80% – 90% – 95% – 105% then the pattern repeats itself.

Strength Training Periodization

With this system you lift “very heavy” (105% RM) once every 4 weeks and that week is followed by a recovery week of 80% RM to allow for supercompensation (see previous article on recovery for an explanation of this process) because the unloading gives your body an opportunity to recover. The process then repeats itself building the loads back up over the next few weeks from 80-90-95% to another 105% load.

In case that doesn’t make sense here’s an example programme to make it clearer:

Ex programme strength

Taking the example of the Back Squat – at the start of the cycle Client A is able to squat 100kg for 5 reps. Employing the above loading system for the next 4 weeks he squats as follows:

Week 1: 4 sets x 5 reps @ 80kg

Week 2: 4 sets x 5 reps @ 90kg

Week 3: 4 sets x 5 reps @ 95kg

Week 4: 4 sets x 5 reps @ 105kg

 

Having completed week 4 with a new 5RM of 105kg the next 4 weeks % RM loads are calculated from this new PB.

So based on 105kg 5RM the loads for the Back Squat for the second 4 week cycle would be:

Week 5: 4 x 5 reps @ 84kg (80%)

Week 6: 4 x 5 reps @ 94.5kg (90%)

Week 7: 4 x 5 reps @ 99.75kg (95%)

Week 8: 4 x 5 @ 110kg (105%)

 

Now this certainly isn’t the only way to get strong and there are lots of variations to the sets, reps and variations to %RM that you can utilise, but this system has produced consistent strength gains for me as a coach and reported improvements in the athlete’s physical and mental freshness/preparedness for their training after the carefully planned recovery weeks.

Learn more about Periodization and Programme Design with Nick Grantham at his Physical Preparation for Performance & Speed Workshops 21st & 22nd February 2015. Nick will be covering 5 major areas: Programme Design, Core Training Concepts, Metabolic Mayham: A Modern Approach to Energy System Development, the Art & Science of Coaching and Speed, Agility and Change of Direction. For more information & to take advantage of the incredible Early Bird Discount Bundle >>CLICK HERE<<