Periodization Blog


Below is a great summary of periodization by a respected research strength coach and the difficulty in “getting it right”. If you use our sport demands (high intensity intermittent sport) as the starting point for your training plans, that’ll help close any potential easy gaps.

“Periodization” (by Matt Jordan – @JordanStrength)

Periodization is not about the model you choose but a process of discovery for each athlete in terms of how the elements of specificity, training load, time course of adaptation and inter-system interactions lead to peak performance at various time points throughout an athlete’s career. Periodization is a reverse engineering process based on a specific gap-analysis where the coach is responsible for managing, integrating, and organizing all aspects of the training load – from mental-emotional factors to musculo-skeletal and neural factors. Coaches are also responsible for programming to build athletic character and elite training habits. How is this reflected in your periodization approach? All of this planning occurs alongside careful monitoring of the individual biological response with respect to key performance indicators in order to tease out the nuances of what works best for whom. This is how periodization-related questions are answered – not with universal dogmatic binary good or bad ‘truths’ but with highly circumstantial case studies based on what works for the individual. With this approach the coach is free to start with the three key principles of training: 1. specificity, 2. progressive manipulation of the training load, and 3. the time course of adaptation. The starting point of this process has to be a careful understanding of what is required for the sport in question and identifying the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses with respect to these demands – what are the gaps, what are the key performance indicators and how does the athlete solve problems in his/her sport? The periodization scheme is then based on biological principles – not a selection from a menu of models. We are trying to avoid the disconnect that occurs when structural approaches to training overrule the importance of understanding the great inter-individuality in the biological adaptation to training.