Ups Downs and Moving Forward (Periodisation Made Simple)
“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend” – Ecclesiastes 3
Whoever knew that the bible covered the fundamental rules of periodisation. Maybe they were onto something after all. Periodisation is necessary for anyone beyond a beginner level of strength. Beginners progress rapidly, just staking on plates session after session, oh don’t we envy them. If you’re no longer a beginner you would massively benefit from some systematic planning of physical training known as periodisation.
Intensity (% of 1RM) is an indicator in periodisation programming like degree’s is with temperature i.e. one session can be of 70% intensity while another could be 40% intensity – this measures how heavy or light the session is, like temperature measures how hot or cold it is. I believe you get the majority of benefits from just measuring and programming the intensity of the compound lifts (i.e. bench, squat, deadlift). As measuring and programming 1RM’s in isolation movements is totally stupid… but don’t let me get in the way of your 1RM biceps curl Brandy Brosef.
Working out Intensity
To work out the intensity follow these simple equations; say this was your squat session:
Squat: 80kg x 8, 100kg x 4, 110kg x 2 Maximum (1RM) = 120kg
Times the weight by the repetitions for each set to work out the volume, add them up then divide by the total number of repetitions:
Volume (VA) = 640 + 400 + 220 = 1260kg
Total reps (RA) = 14
Intensity (IA) = VA/RA = 1260/14 = 90kg
Then you must work out the relative intensity, to express as a percentage of your 1RM:
Relative intensity (Irel) = (90/120) x 100 = You worked at 75% Intensity for this squat session.
I would categorize this as a base/ load session as it is of 75% intensity, in terms of strength training and this article I will categorize intensity as follows:
|Intensity (% of 1RM)||Category|
|60%+ (60-69%):||General Conditioning/ Deload|
|70%+ (70-79%):||Base/ Load|
|90%+ (90-100%):||Load/ Performance Testing|
On average I believe the Traditional Cycle (TTC) and The Performance Cycle (PTC) meet most requirements. Both cycles take 4 weeks to complete, with each week at a different intensity. You will find this type of periodisation in many programs.
Traditional Cycle (TTC)
In the Coach’s Strength Training Playbook, Joe Kenn describes how the TTC system works – “For a muscle to increase strength, it must be stressed beyond its present capacity, The overload (resistance) must be progressed gradually over time with a built-in time for recovery (reduction in load and volume) so the athlete can adjust to the increased demands placed on the body without fatigue, staleness, overtraining, or all of the above becoming an issue”. This is a very simple yet effective cycle which is very popular. You can find TTC in programs such as 5/3/1/rest.
The Performance Cycle (PTC)
As you can see the major difference between the PTC and TTC is between weeks 3 and 4. In the TTC, week 3 is the greatest intensity of the cycle, with deload taking place on week 4. In the PC, week 3 is the deload week while week 4 is the performance week.
There is no particular strength or weakness of either cycle, however I would recommend the TTC for general training purposes and PTC if you’re looking to peak for a certain competition or really smash a PR.
There are many ways you can program TTC or PTC, personally I recommend keeping it to the compound movements of your session and then filling in the gaps as you see necessary. You can use whatever rep/sets scheme you would like, as long as it stays within the intensity range. Also be aware that volume and intensity are usually inversely proportional, as intensity increase volume drops and visa versa. Nevertheless it will be very difficult to program. This is why I recommend following Prilepin’s Chart if your goal is strength. Simply see what your intensity is for that week, match it up with Prilepin’s Chart then get to work.
Here’s a basic example of a complete cycle with PTC. Once you complete a cycle you’ll want to either increase the number of total repetitions or the total amount of weight lifted (recommended). You add weight each month in every lift. You have two different approaches here – you can add weight by feel or have a pre-programmed amount of weight to add each month. If you decide to go with the pre-programmed approach, keep it conservative I recommend 5lb a month for upper body movements and 10lb for lower body movements.
|PTC||Monday – Squat||Wednesday – Bench||Friday – Deadlift|
|Base/ Load (70%+)||3×6 (18reps)||6×3 (18reps)||4×4 (16reps)|
|Load (80%+)||5×3 (15reps)||3×5 (15reps)||3×5 (15reps)|
|Deload (60%+)||6×4 (24reps)||4×6 (24reps)||8×3 (24reps)|
|Performance (90%+)||2×2 (4reps)||3×2 (6reps)||4×1 (4reps)|
Granted this is quite a vague post, I’m not handing you any specific program instead I’m giving you the option to develop your own program, for your individual needs. Personally this is how I like to do it, I find the personal stamp and variety fun. However, it’s not for everyone. Beginners may struggle with the meathead talk, and frankly they don’t need any periodisation. If you’d prefer a set program, which is ready to go check these bad boys out – (http://jacktylerperformance.com/2014/02/08/3-astounding-programs-and-adherence/). Please share this with friends and follow me on Facebook – got some awesome stuff on the way.