The purpose of this blog is to briefly go over important concepts of periodization when creating a program to reduce the effects of overtraining, increase the effects of progressive overload, and reduce the staleness of current program (in other words keeping the workouts fun/challenging).

Periodization was originally derived from Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) stating systems (aka ENERGY SYSTEMS in our previous blog) will adapt to stressors to meet those stressors demands. With the use of load, sets, and reps we can create our own stressors. These stressors being a wide variety of training like resistance training, speed/endurance work, and agility work within a program. Lastly, programming is planned out over a 12-month period (macrocycle), with 2 subdivisions of altered training modalities over 3-4 months (mesocycles) and 1-4 weeks (microcycles).



Linear periodization is the most simple and predictable because the mesocycles and microcycles only vary depending on what phase the athlete is in (strength, power, or speed). This makes it an advantage for athletes even at the early stages of training. It can be imagined as a step ladder for the athlete. However, a disadvantage for this type of periodization is the maintenance of a previous phase such as transitioning from a strength phase to a power phase.

Table 2:

Linear Periodization

Hypertrophy/Endurance Zone 2
Hang Clean4×655% 1RM
Back Squat3×1270% 1 RM
Single Leg Deadlift3×1270% 1RM
Strength Zone 3
Power Clean4×385% 1RM
Front Squat4×680% 1RM
Single Leg Deadlift4×680% 1RM
Ma× Strength/Power Zone 4
Hang Power Clean6×190% 1RM
Front Squat3×390% 1RM
Trap Bar Deadlift3×585% 1RM


First introduced by Poliquin, non-linear or undulating periodization has become the more favorable form of programming because of the more frequent changes in load, sets, and repetitions. Two of the biggest advantages of this type of periodization is 1) it may lead to better neuromuscular adaptations and 2) it allows for athlete modifications depending on recovery or fatigue. With the advantages does come a few disadvantages as well. 1) Non-linear periodization may not be optimal for learning high skill level movements like the clean or snatch due to its constant adjustments. Lastly, athletes may not optimally adapt to a multi-phase training periodization due to the constant change as well.

Table 3:

Non‐Linear Periodization

Workout 1 Zone 3
Hang Clean3×380% 1RM
Back Squat4×580% 1RM
Workout 2 Zone 1/2
Hang Snatch3×550% 1RM
Front Squat3×1250% 1RM
Leg Press3×1250% 1RM
Workout 3 Zone 2
Deadlift3×870% 1RM
Back Squat3×870% 1RM
Leg Press3×870% 1RM

RM = repetition maximum


The block periodization looks similarly to the linear periodization model but differs because it only focuses on exercises and parameters that are important to the athlete’s sport. It also helps account for within phase maintenance of pervious phases to keep from diminishing work athletes have completed. Block periodization is broken into 3 phases: an accumulation phase, a transmutation phase, and a realization phase. The accumulation phase has higher volume (sets and reps) at lower percentages. During the transmutation phase volume begins to decrease as percentages begin to in increase. Lastly, the realization phase is where the athlete starts peaking using high percentages of their 1RM (>90%). After the realization phase there is a brief period to allow the athlete to recover and start the next block.

Block Periodization ‐ General Structure

Weeks 1‐2: Accumulation Phase. High volume, build work capacity  
Week 1Sets/repsIntensity
Push Press3×1050% 1RM
Back/Front Squats3×1250% 1RM
Leg Press/Hack Squat3×1250% 1RM
Step Ups2×12 
Lunges2×8 ea 
Week 2  
Push Press3×860% 1RM
Back/Front Squats3×1060% 1RM
Leg Press/Hack Squat3×1060% 1RM
Trap Bar Deadlift3×860% 1RM
Week 3‐4: Transmutation Phase. Increased loading  
Week 3Sets/repsIntensity
Hang Clean/Hang Snatch3×475% 1RM
Back/Front Squat3×680% 1RM
Deadlift/Trap Bar Deadlift3×680% 1RM
Week 4  
Back/Front Squats with accommodating resistance4×675% 1RM with bands
Hang Clean4×385% 1RM
Week 5: Realization Phase. Peak power. Intensity can be based on sport demands  
Hang Clean4×290% 1RM
Squats (Front or Back)4×590% 1RM – complete as fast as possible
Alternative Lifts: Deadlifts, Hang Snatch  
Week 6: Restoration Phase. Reduced loading to follow high intensity work  
Choose several exercises<50% 1RM. Emphasize total body workouts with light loads and high repetitions.  
After this 6‐week block, the athlete repeats each phase.  

RM = repetition maximum


All periodization option listed above have a time and place for all athletes alike. Whether you are an athlete that is just starting their first strength program or a seasoned performance coach with multiple teams, you must first ask yourself what are you trying to achieve? It is ultimately up to the coach/athlete to make an informed decision on picking which type of periodization is appropriate for them. This blog is an overview of a scholarly article. If you would like to read more in depth about periodization, then please follow the link within the reference list.





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