Most people like to make it sound difficult and over complicated. So let’s take this back to basics and show you how it is actually pretty simple…
So first off, what is periodization?
Periodization is best defined as the organisation of training, with the aim of reaching a desired outcome or goal by a certain date.
So for powerlifting that essentially means we are organising and planning your training so that you can lift the most weight on comp day!
Why so complicated?
People tend to get lost and tied up due to all the different types of periodization, all of which have a host of data as to why each model is the best one to use….
So what different models are there?
Essentially there are 3 main types of periodization.
· Undulating , also known as nonlinear periodization
Now, here’s the thing, you can implement different elements of periodization into your training block!
So how should a periodised plan be set up?
Long-term training is structured in different cycles.
The long-term training plan is what’s known as the macro cycle. This, for example, could be a 20 week training block with a competition scheduled at the end of it.
A Macro cycle is made up of Meso cycles.
Meso cycle usually lasts a few weeks’s (typically 4-6), and has a goal for each period. So it could be muscle building or technique work for example.
Meso cycles are then finally made up of micro cycles, and this is what makes up your daily training programs.
A micro cycle tells you which exercises you are doing, maybe how much weight (if programming of % as opposed to RPE), and specify how many reps and sets.
Is this starting to make sense yet?
Let’s take a20 week macro cycle, with the aim of peaking into a powerlifting competition at the end of it!
Let’s also so that the last week of it is a deload week, ensuring your fatigue is kept to a minimum and you’re ready to rock the platform!
Let’s take a look at Linear periodization first of all…
From week 1 to week 19 you will increase the intensity of your competition lifts (squat, bench and deadlift), while in turn decreasing the volume (sets and reps)
The further out from competition you are, the more you can focus on building muscle and any technique issues.
You can focus more on muscle mass in week 1 to 6 for example. After the first 6 weeks, you could switch exercises and focus another 6 weeks on technique to help bring up your weak point, followed by another 6 weeks looking to add further muscle mass…
Now you have 2 blocks of training where you focus on muscle mass and one on technique before a deload into the comp!
Under block periodisation it may look a bit different…
You could for example break it up into 5 weeks blocks, have an initial block of technique, before 2 blocks of muscle building, and then add in a final 4 week block which incorporates more focus of strength, before a deload into comp
In that 4 week strength block you want to be increasing the intensity (weight lifted) and be bringing the volume (sets x reps) down.
It looks very similar to linear periodization at this point
But we now also have divided out 20 week macro cycle into 5 blocks.
· 1 block focusing on technique for 5 weeks
· 2 blocks of 5 weeks where we focus on maximizing gains
· 1 block of 4 weeks where focusing on strength, intensity and dropping the volume
· 1 block of a week leading into competition to ensure we are ready for the platform!
At macro level this is linear periodization, but on at meso cycle level it is much more block periodization.
Finally we have the Micro cycle….
For this Undulating Periodization works wonderfully in my opinion
Let’s assume your training 4 times a week and incorporating some sort of upper/lower split.
In the first block that looks at technique you could be looking at doing relatively high volume (sets of 10-12 for example), but keep the intensity relatively low to ensure focus of your form for one session, but also later in the week use a different range (set of 5) for example on an exercise that require more intensity (tempo squats are a good example), and also keep you used to handle higher loads
The 2nd block of 5, is where we start the muscle building work, and as we are still a decent time away from comp we can really increase the volume, probably looking between 12-15 reps one session and then 8-10 on another session that week
In your 3rd block, which is still muscle building muscle mass block we could drop the volume of sets and reps, but look to increase intensity 6 reps in one training and sets of 8 to 10 in your 2nd training for instance.
In your strength block leading into your deload focus on sets of 5 in one training and sets of 3 in your 2nd training for that body part.
This is known as daily undulating periodisation, or DUP.
Another alternative is a weekly undulating programme.
This is essentially the same, but you focus on sets of 15 in week one, sets of 12 in week 2, sets of 10 in week 3, and so and so forth.
So, as you can see, you can use all 3 together. Each periodization model should be used at the right level of your training cycle.
Hope this has hoped to take away some of the confusion around periodisation?