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Let's Talk About Periodization

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  • Let's Talk About Periodization

    Hi everybody.

    The concept of Periodization of training is very popular in the training and conditioning world.

    For some resources on periodization, look here:
    Wiki on Periodization
    Periodization Explanation for Endurance Sports
    Periodization for Strength Training

    I attached a review article about periodization as well.
    Despite all the positive press, there are a few people out there who aren't convinced that periodization is either clearly superior or that it has a very good research base.

    John Cissik has written a great article called "Is Periodization Dead or Just Very Sick?", that I've attached. This calls into question the claims of many of the superiority of the periodization model. John tells me that there is a forthcoming larger review article in a similar direction to be published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

    What do our esteemed members think of the periodization concept, and why?
    Attached Files
    Jason Silvernail DPT, DSc, FAAOMPT
    Board-Certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy
    Fellowship-Trained in Orthopedic Manual Therapy

    Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist


    The views expressed in this entry are those of the author alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Jason Silvernail View Post
    Despite all the positive press, there are a few people out there who aren't convinced that periodization is either clearly superior or that it has a very good research base.
    I'd have to count myself as one of the unconvinced.

    Progression in strength training.
    Practice for performance.
    Nick Matheson, PT
    Strengthen Your Health

    Comment


    • #3
      I think more than 100 years of strength training through periodization by athletes, strongman and powerlfifters, coaches all over the world is enough empirical evidence for periodization.

      I would hate that day where all the top strength coaches in the world like poliquin, Charlie Francis, Christian thibeadeu, Loui simmons, Pendlay, abadjiev, ian king unanaimously decalre they all made a great mistake by folowing periodization

      I woud love to hear Nicks rationale for non-periodization

      Anoop
      Anoop Balachandran
      EXERCISE BIOLOGY - The Science of Exercise & Nutrition

      Comment


      • #4
        Well anoop, I just read the "Dead or Sick" opinion piece and I must say - some very good points are made.
        The "100 years" is a mite long according to what I know of the start of periodization.

        I am not saying it is bogus, but length of time and numbers of faithful followers has never been a very good scientific argument for effectiveness. You know that (look at Soviet style communism - and hand-washing for doctors!). And John Cissik makes some very good points. The risk of such a well-established and accepted approach being wrong is worth examining scientifically. Any solid scientific tenet is tested like that.
        We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are - Anais Nin

        I suppose it's easier to believe something than it is to understand it.
        Cmdr. Chris Hadfield on rise of poor / pseudo science

        Pain is a conscious correlate of the implicit perception of threat to body tissue - Lorimer Moseley

        We don't need a body to feel a body. Ronald Melzack

        Comment


        • #5
          Anoop-
          I'm with Bas and Nick on this one. I really accepted the gospel of periodization when I was learning real exercise science (for me this happened after my PT education, when I was self-teaching in preparation for the CSCS exam). It was only after reading John Cissik's article that I really started to wonder. He makes a lot of really good points there, I think.
          Nick and I talked about the overall poor quality of research in exercise science in the Strength Training thread, and that concept applies here. Cissik relates that there do not appear to be any real long term examinations of Periodization to really compare it against simpler program designs that address conditioning. He talks about how much of periodization is based on work in the 60s and 70s in communist countries who were dominant in certain sports - and that dominance does not appear to continue when those coaches move to western countries and you subtract drugs. Some have suggested that periodization was designed to match loading doses of performance- enhancement drugs. Now, I think periodization does make some physiological sense, but it remains to be seen whether you really need to work that hard on program design to get good results with people, so I think the jury is still out.

          A quick search for support finds several small studies that are a few months long at most, showing small differences between the periodized group and a comparison group doing a simple progression program. Now either there isn't much difference, or there is insufficient time to demonstrate it. In either case, we can't draw too many strong conclusions, I don't think.
          Jason Silvernail DPT, DSc, FAAOMPT
          Board-Certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy
          Fellowship-Trained in Orthopedic Manual Therapy

          Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist


          The views expressed in this entry are those of the author alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi Jason & Bss,
            I come from more of strength and bodybuilding background, so my thinking of periodization mostly revolves around them rather than multi year training based on meso cyles, and phases and peaking. But I do think principles remains the same.

            The rationale for periodizations has always been:

            1)Breaking down of time into manageable components
            2)recognition that peak performance cannot be maintained at all times Hence ensuring that peaking occurs at the right time

            This is the basics of periodization and I think is pretty logical and based on simple. physiology. Simply put, it is just planning ahead your program.

            The breaking down to anatomical phases, hypertrophy, power and so on and how long they have to be are just details. For ex, I don’t believe that hypertrophy and strength are that separate that you should have separate phases for it. Some coaches take the hypertrophy phase out, some coaches shorten the anatomical adaptation phase. I don’t think anybody follows the periodization program to an exact T barring some Anyhow, my whole point is that the basics of periodization is just simple and plain common sense.

            I just read the Cissick’s whole article again. To be honest, what is his point? I like how he talks about the problems in research and periodization and then concludes with section abt “What can be done”, which basically says nothing. He says picks tests which are valid and reliable, pick the right exercises (basically be specific), when exercises are employed and to what degree they are employed.

            Honestly, what has all three of his “solutions” got to do with anything regarding the basics of periodization? His problems with periodization research is very well relevant to ANY strength training study, and some of them to ANY scientific study. I can give better reasons for why all ALL training studies are a bunch of crap

            First, nobody gives grants to support research to make people bigger and stronger. Who really cares? Even if there is, that’s way tooooo less compared to what NIH and AHA gives out for studying physiology and disease. And usually MOST (inclues the good reaseachers) who started out researching exercise performance gradually move out to other areas of study, like how exercise prevents disease and the mechanisms which gets better funding. Mainly bcos they require funding to keep their job and studying performance will never get you into that elite level of researchers or the top journals. And usually almost all exercise journals are just average (or below average journals) which makes it easy to get your stuff published. There is much less competition and the review committee is not that stringent either.

            Some statements abt periodization was manily for olymic lifters, mainly theoritical and not- so-natural are valid points, but I just don't understand what else he is suggesting instead of periodization. Maybe I am missing something here

            Anoop
            Anoop Balachandran
            EXERCISE BIOLOGY - The Science of Exercise & Nutrition

            Comment


            • #7
              Well, I think it wouldn't be too difficult to do some good exercise studies. I mean, this isn't a cholesterol drug or the treatment of pain - it's strength training, for crying out loud.

              While you seem to agree that there isn't much research out there, there are an awful lot of people (and organizations) talking about periodization as if it's got all sorts of science behind it - but it doesn't.

              I can't/won't speak for Mr Cissik, but maybe he's not suggesting something else. Maybe he's just saying we should stop talking about it in such strong terms if the science just isn't there.
              I think that's a pretty good point to make, don't you?
              Jason Silvernail DPT, DSc, FAAOMPT
              Board-Certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy
              Fellowship-Trained in Orthopedic Manual Therapy

              Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist


              The views expressed in this entry are those of the author alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

              Comment


              • #8
                Well, I think it wouldn't be too difficult to do some good exercise studies. I mean, this isn't a cholesterol drug or the treatment of pain - it's strength training, for crying out loud.
                I don't think oneday all of a sudden someone will publish a couple of excellent studies which will clear all our questions abt periodization and strength training. Unless there is more funding for exercise studies, this feild will always be lagging in good reaserchers and good publications. That's the root of the problem. Most of the exercise stdies still comes from Denmark, finaland and other european countries who are still passionate abt this feild.

                While you seem to agree that there isn't much research out there, there are an awful lot of people (and organizations) talking about periodization as if it's got all sorts of science behind it - but it doesn't.
                I think I agree here.

                Might be NSCA and ACE and all other certification who wants to make it look it is "evidence based". It is pretty muh known that Supertraining by Mel Siff is just theoritical wanking. Most of the top coaches around the world have their own way of periodization. Charlie Francis ( arguably the best sprint coach) had a periodization plan which was entirely different from the other sprint coaches around the world in 70s. I am pretty sure most top coaches do not follow periodization as it is layed out in NSCA or Bompas text book. They are pretty much aware that it is just planning ahead.

                I think the people who really into scince of periodization are those who are fresh out of school or high school coaches , D1 schools, and people who never really read beyond what they have to. Probabaly similar to the mesodermal proponents in your PT feild. I think for those its a good article.

                Forget abt periodization, I have even written an article about how there is no real evidence to back up the claim that 8-12 reps is better for hypertrophy. And this is everywhere just like periodization. But most of the good strength coaches kind of know all this stuff.

                Anoop
                Anoop Balachandran
                EXERCISE BIOLOGY - The Science of Exercise & Nutrition

                Comment


                • #9
                  Interesting thread and a great topic for those dealing with strengthening their clients/athletes/patients.

                  I think the real question with regard to periodization is periodization of what and for who? Traditional periodization was based upon political and societal constructs of Soviet and Eastern Bloc athletes who were most likely on drugs and basically full time athletes. Eventually these athletes had to go home to visit their families, etc.. so there were planned "periods" of unloading, less drugs, etc.

                  Taking a system designed in a totally different political and cultural context is bound to fail when followed ver badum in more Western or "Democratic" type of societies. However, as a theoretical concept, periodization of some sort makes sense. You can't do the same thing over and over again or the body will just accomodate and stagnate.

                  However, too much variety isn't good either as the body continually de-trains/de-adapts to the missing stimulus if it isn't presented to the body at some minimum interval (i.e. once a week for maintenance purposes). As Vladamir Zatsiorsky states in his Science and Practice of Strength Training textbook:

                  "if you want to scale the summit of a high mountain, why get halfway up the mountain, go back down, and then climb the whole mountain?"

                  This is where some of the more advanced ideas of periodization (i.e. Non-linear periodization, etc...) come in where mutliple motor/fitness qualites are trained simultaneously with the key qualities remaining in the training progam all year round.
                  Keats Snideman CSCS, LMT
                  "Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    This is a very interesting topic so I thought I would throw on some articles for everyone to take look at in regards to periodization. No original research, but interesting reads nonetheless. I'm not getting into the debate of for or against it, just wanted to contribute. The roundtable gives some different viewpoints. The article by Cissik is the NSCA journal version of Jason S's article. Enjoy
                    Attached Files
                    "The views expressed here are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have met countless professionals who only work with a specific type of periodization, and others who like different kinds, and then also people who are not "big periodization guys". All of those professionals, however, have goals in mind, have set time frames to try to achieve these goals, and organized training modalities to work towards them. They are all "periodizing", and no matter what the particular rationale, it is those basic steps towards achievement that are needed.
                      Do I tend to lean a certain way when it comes to programming my athlete's training? Yes. Do I feel some of my peers may not be using an "optimal" method? Often. However the main thing is that we set targets, organize training, and then constantly access and evaluate (MONITOR!!!) the progress / lack of progress, and see what is going on in the real world. If we all do that, then we are not going to be too far off of each other.

                      Not a very specific contribution to the discussion - but when considering this topic, I feel we all can be guilty of getting too caught up with certain terminology and specific methods, that we lose track of what we are trying to do in the first place!

                      Howard

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Welcome Howard.
                        I think if periodization was just progression of exercise we wouldn't be having this thread and Cissik wouldn't have written what he did. I guess in my mind it's more about a highly specific progression method that seems to have a following somewhat disconnected from it's research base that's the issue.

                        What have your experiences been like in handling this issue?
                        Jason Silvernail DPT, DSc, FAAOMPT
                        Board-Certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy
                        Fellowship-Trained in Orthopedic Manual Therapy

                        Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist


                        The views expressed in this entry are those of the author alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have to agree with what Jason Silvernail has said in post 5. I too (as Anoop also suggested) was 'pro-periodization' right out of school and in the D-I setting. There was no other way. I initially thought Nic was a lunatic to suggest otherwise (have since changed). Which is why I like this place so much.

                          In regards to S&C in the athletic population, I agree with Nick "progress in strength training." This argument is fun to have with those perio-junkies. I have used it numerous time in the debate on plyometrics. Why volleyball, basketball, track and field need more plyos? They just went through 300 foot contacts in practice and you, the S&C coach, plan on doing more? Insane in my opinion.

                          But

                          If competing in a sport such as weightlifting and powerlifting where the strength training IS the sport, I feel we have to periodize. We 'progress the strength training while practicing for performance' but still periodize to peak. As Anoop has suggested, it's common sense. If the intensity goes up, the volume must/should go down. If we continue to increase both, our physiology/psychology will force it (Hans Seyle or Inverted U theory).

                          Look forward to the replies and look forward to learn more.

                          Where did Nick go? Again, I thought he was a lunatic Not so sure anymore:thumbs_up
                          "The views expressed here are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mrupe82 View Post
                            Where did Nick go? Again, I thought he was a lunatic Not so sure anymore:thumbs_up
                            Nick knows his stuff. Personally, I miss his input. If were to get serious about healthy strengthening, he'd be the first person I'd consult.
                            "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Rambling post warning!!!

                              I think we may have become too caught up on the definitions and the specifics of it. That is the biggest problem. The research is there to show us what happened with that group of athletes, at that time, in that program. It is highly unlikely that we, in the real world, are dealing with the same exact scenario as in the research study. This doesn't mean we should disregard the study, but we should be realistic in applying it to our situation. We, as educated people, have to take a look at as much of the evidence out there as we can, and combine it with experience from our backgrounds and from others.

                              Excellent point made about weightlifting and power lifting as sports. Much of the research on periodization is done with weightlifters and throwers. This is a problem, and it should have consequences to how we interpret the information. However, we should not turn our backs on periodization just because of the obvious limitations with the research. I don't believe periodization has to be specific, or "my way of periodization or no way" kind of deal. Some basic methods may work with the majority of beginning athletes, but once they are more experienced, that is when creativity and mixing of systems comes into play to create what may be best for the athletes situation.

                              Interesting point regarding the foot contacts in "practice" and then more with the SCC. I would not pile all of the blame with the SCC in this case, it is more a problem with the set up training in general in most situations. Communication should be there between ALL of those (coaches, SCC, Ath Trainer, PT, etc.) involved in the development of the athlete so that it is clear what, when, where, and with whom each kind of training is done. Unfortunately in the majority of college programs, this holistic look at training is not carried out. The SCC very rarely is there / knows exactly what is going on in team training, and this is a problem. Usually it is a logistical problem and I certainly don't have a solution here but it must be understood.
                              I am perhaps getting away from the point here, but it is related. Some kind of monitoring and periodization should apply to the volume and intensity of everything, whether it is lifting a barbell, running a sprint, or swinging a bat. I have been fortunate enough to be able to monitor / have access to everything that my athletes have done, and this is mostly down to the communication and training structure that we set up.

                              I need to read more of Cissik's work, but I feel that most of the problem lies not with the research, but with how we are interpreting the research.

                              Comment

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