Periodization- The Right Way

by Jerry Connelly

I would to fill everyone in on just what true periodization is and what it
isn't. I certainly isn't what Leo Costa presents in his book "Big Beyond
Belief". Here's an example of disinformation in that book:

On Micro-periodization:
"In essence, the body grows and responds better when it is in peak
metabolic condition, and micro-periodization allows you to stay in peak
condition all year long. Remarkably, micro-periodization was also found
to lengthen an athlete's competitive life. The old method of Soviet
periodization, which peaks an athlete once or twice a year, turned out to
be hard on the body and caused him to burn out much sooner than he should.

We have synthesized important findings into our Training Model and, as per
Eastern Bloc research, we will be providing for all three cycles during
each workout week."

This is backasswards, it's the Bulgarian method that is known in
weightlifting to burn out the lifter. It's rare that you see a bulgarian
make it to 2 Olympic games. Alexiev had over 30 world records, and
Alexander Kurlovich would have appeared in his 3rd Olympic Games, the most
of any weightlifter in the Modern Olympics! They attack world records 1
kilogram at a time, not in leaps in bounds. Yes they did peak once or
twice a year, the World Championships and the Olympics (in Olympic year of
course), that's all that matters to them. The last time Kurlovich was
caught in possession of steroids the Russians pulled a fast one to have
him reinstated, in time for the World Championships!!!

The Russians only train every other day and although they may train 2 - 3
times a day during some cycles, they do different things like plyometrics,
technique training; not the same shit every day and every session. And
you can't tell me American researchers are inferior to Bulgarian
researchers, they may lock themselves away in "ivory towers" but the
methods and tools are far superior.

The soviets started periodization as far back as 1917 BS (Before
Steroids). The basic idea was to cycle training programs around an
athletes competitive year. So for a basketball player or hockey player or
whatever sport it was broken down into pre-season, in-season, post-season
and off-season. Each phase concentrated on diiferent aspects of training.
Let's use an American football player as an example.

Post season: active rest to recuperate from the long hard season
Off-season- preparation phase: maybe a higher rep (10-15) to put on some
lost muscle mass from the layoff and prepare the body for higher intensity
training. and some running or endurance work
Pre-season: Power and strength exercises rep ranges from 3-6, and sport
specific drills along with short sprints
In season: programs designed only to maintain strength throughout the
season. The season can even be broken up into phases to peak for tougher
opponents or post-season play. Remember, football players are doing
plenty of reps during practice, so all that training has to be accounted
for so as not to overtrain.

This type of cycling can be applied to most every sport depending on the
duration of the season. For example, Baseball is toughto plan for because
of the long season.

Now high intensity training needs some clarification, in the "scientific"
community (yes in those ivory white towers) intensity is the amount f
weight used, so it can be confused with heavy weights. I think that the
HIT method of training promoted by Mentzer and others is more of a
"perceived" intensity. You can train to failure with nothing on the bar,
it will just take all day. So a body builder can cycle his training by
doing cycles of low reps, high reps and very high reps. Depending on
his/her needs and goals. Problem is everyone needs a gimmmick so Ironman
Training System, Big Beyond Belief and others have made periodization look
like a bunch of unrealistic training methods.

I personally compete in Olympic weightlifting and my coach has tried using
the "Bulgarian" methods on myself and my teammates. I told him he better
give me the drugs and the lifestyle they have also, because I can't afford
to go get massages and therapy every day of the week to help the recovery
process. You can't take one countries system and apply it to another that
has a different lifestyle, just like you can't take someone elses workout
and expect it to work for you! It's a long hard process of "progressive"
overload not aggresive overload.

Don't knock on Fred Hatfield too much, in his book "Hardcore Bodybuilding,
a Scientific Approach" he presents a logical method of periodization that
is much like the one Shawn Phillips has in his Powerbuilding program. It's
based on how long it takes each muscle group to recover from a workout. I
haven't studied any literature on this method yet so maybe someone else
can shed some light on it. He may also have stole it from Phillips I have
no idea. Unless they're both full of it. Now his supplement line that's
another story, another gimmick!

And as far as Mentzer's concerned he is on to a good concept, but the fact
is we are all different in the way we respond to exercise. Muscle fibers
may be essentiallly the same but the nervous systems response certainly is
not. It has to do with motor learning or skill level, a more seasoned
lifter who has good technique will progress much farther than someone of
the same capability but has poor technique. The one with poor technique
will suffer set backs from injury and inability to adapt to new methods of
training. I think Shawn Phillips goes into shoulder injuries in the new
MM2K, and kists exercises that are "bad" for the shoulders. If those
exercises are done with poor technique they can be dangerous and should be
avoided by inexperienced lifters, but sought after by those of greater
skill. Now I'm not knocking Mentzer or HIT, I've incorparated these
methods into my own training, ther's just a little more to human
physiology and biomechanics than some would have us believe.

source:, 1995/08/31.

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