Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training

Here is a review of the book Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training by Tudor Bompa and Greg Haff I have been reading recently. I will break it into two parts as I have many notes.

Bompa and Haff

The Authors

Tudor O. Bompa, PhD, is recognised worldwide as the foremost expert on periodization training. He first developed the concept of “periodization of strength” in Romania in 1963, as he helped the Eastern Bloc countries rise to dominance in the athletic world. A full professor at York University in Toronto, Bompa has authored several important books on physical conditioning, including Serious Strength Training, Second Edition, Periodization Training for Sports and Total Training for Young Champions as well as numerous articles on the subject
Dr G. Gregory Haff is the Course Coordinator for the Post Graduate Degree in Strength and Conditioning at Edith Cowan University. He is a Level 2 ASCA strength and conditioning coach and a Level 3 Australian Weightlifting Association Coach. Dr Haff was the 2011, NSCA’s William J. Kraemer Sport Scientist of the Year Award Winner and has served as the Vice President of the NSCA, Assistant Editor and Chief for The Journal of Strength and Conditioning and is a Senior Associate Editor for The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with Distinction, a founding Fellow of the NSCA, and an accredited member of the United Kingdom Strength & Conditioning Association. He is a USA Weightlifting Regional Level Coach and has served as an outside scientist with the United States Olympic Training Centre’s Performance Enhancement Teams for Track Cycling and Weightlifting.

The book is broken down into 3 components: 1) Training Theory where underlying principles of periodization such as energy systems, skill classification, training principles and variables of training are identified 2) how to periodize training for specific biomotor abilities, competitions, annual planning, training cycles, and planning the actual workout, and 3) training methodology of strength and power, endurance, and speed & agility.

Chapter 1 – Basis for Training

This chapter lays the outlining the multiple factors associated with the training process.
Auxillary SciencesIt is important that a progressive increase in stimulus will lead to adaptation and improved performance, lack of stimulus results in a plateau and hinders performance, whereas too excessive of a stimulus results in maladaptation, decreasing performance. In terms of basic energy system information the ATP-PC system is responsible for approximately 10s high intensity work, with 50-70% decrease in as little as 5s – 70% ATP is restored after 30s rest, whereas 84% PCr is resored at 2 minutes and 89% at 4 minutes. The glycolytic system is responsible from 20s – 2 minutes of activity where during fast glycolysis lactate is converted to pyruvate. Towards 2 minutes ATP supply transfers from fast to slow glycolysis and shifts pyruvate to the mitochondria for oxidative metabolism. The oxidative system is predominant during 2 minutes – 3 hour events.

Chapter 2 – Principles of Training

Multilateral development is important during the early stages of development as it lays the foundations for more specific work to com later on. It provides consistent but progressive performances through steady incremental loading patterns which results in fewer injuries. Early specialization will bring about quick improvements but theses will tail off and plateau in the future. There is also a high incidence of burnout with early specialization through overtraining and an increased risk of injury due to forced development as compared to consistent and progressive seen in multilateral development. Load progressions should be planned according to tolerance level – biological age and chronological age, training age, training histroy, health status, and stress and recovery rate.
Standard loading: Where similar training loads & training densities are used throughout the preparation phase.
Linear loading: Can be useful early on in development (Mark Rippetoe states this also in his book Practical Programming), but periods of recovery are needed to maximize adaptive responses otherwise will plateau, or if done for an extended period overtraining will occur.
Step loading: Progressive overload interspersed with periods of unloading usually following a wave-like increase in training load (a 3 week increase: 1 week unload for example). A greater loading phase will require a greater unloading phase but step loading develops a base for future training blocks. This loading pattern is useful for sequential cyclic phases potentiation with strength endurance > max strength > speed strength for example.
Concentrated loading: Sometimes classified as short-term overreaching, where high volumes and intensities are planned for a short time, and performance gains may not occur until 4-12 weeks after the cessation of the concentrated load.
Conjugated Sequence: Concentrated loading followed by restitution where microcycles will have 1 primary emphasis (max strength) while maintaining other areas (speed, power, agility). During the restitution phase max strength will then be reduced focus and an increase focus in the other biomotor abilities will occur. By concentrating the loading for 4 weeks, then unloading for 3 weeks , then going back to loading and a further unload results in a supercompensation effect. Therefore, training can be sequenced so that performance can peak at certain times by manipulating training density and duration, not volume and intensity.
Flat loading: applicable to more advanced highly trained athletes if they have developed the physiological base to tolerate constant high volumes and intensities. Usually performed for 3 weeks with the 4th week an unload.

If sequenced properly each block will potentiate the next. Siff and Verkoshansky (2003) outlined the progression of general physical preparation > strength > speed > endurance. There are endless ways to integrate loading paradigms – 3:1, 2:1, 1:3 but consider the training status of the athlete, goals of the training plan, recovery interventions available, amount of time to train, and the physiological responses to different loading models according to scientific literature.

Chapter 3 – Preparation for Training
Physical training increases physiological potential and sport specific biomotor abilities. This can be broken down to general physical training increasing work capacity and the potential to adapt (think multilateral development), and sport specific physical training which builds on the general physical training foundations, but are more specific to the demands of the sport by targeting specific physiological adaptations.
Exercises in the general phase utilize body weight, benches, skipping and med balls targeting general strength, flexibility, mobility, aerobic fitness and anaerobic capacity. Sports specific exercises target specific movement patterns of the sporting activities, allowing for a greater transfer of training through specific muscle actions (concentric, eccentric, isometric), kinematic (velocity, angles) and kinetic characteristics (force, RFD, power). Exercises include Olympic lifts, squats etc.

Technical Training: it is important to create efficient movement patterns that are biomechanically sound in relation to application of forces and running economy. Technique can be based on a technical model to develop plans to target weak areas but remember that every individual is different and this should be based on biomechanical aspects of performance rather than someone who is ‘good’ at the skill as people develop at different rates. Simple tasks as running and cycling are also easier to attain proficiency in as compared to complex Olympic lifts, throws, jumps which require more coordination.

Chapter 4 – Variables of Training

The manipulation of volume, intensity and density of training is key to a well thought out plan and programme.
Volume relates to the total quantity of work performed in the training session/phase. In sports like running and cycling volume can be represented as time or duration, or distance covered, whereas in the weight room volume or ‘volume load’ can be reps x sets x weight lifted for each resistance exercise. For sprints, throws, and lower body jumps can be number of repetitions. Volume can be increased through increasing the volume (method above) during the session or increasing the density (frequency) of training, or both.
Intensity relates to power output, opposing force, or velocity of progression. It reuires an increase in neuromuscular activation and can be expressed as metres per second (speed), kg (force), or Watts (power). In team sports variables such as average HR or % of maximum HR is usually found within the literature. Here is a table from the book I quickly created in Excel for strength and speed intensities alongside one taken from Stephen Seiler which doesn’t feature in the book, but he’s done a lot of research in elite endurance athletes training intensity and distribution.

Strength and Endurance Zones
Volume and intensity are inversely related in most instances. High volumes and intensities increase physiological stress and hormone disturbances while causing severe neuromuscular fatigue. High volumes of work with low intensities do serve as a basis for the higher intensity workloads that come later on though.

Density represents the frequency or distribution of training sessions. It is important to establish correct work:rest ratios in order to target the specific energy systems.Work to rest
Chapter 5 – Rest and Recovery

Rest and recovery is aiming to maximize preparedness (dissipate fatigue and maintain fitness) and is best done through properly designed programming with logical variations in volume, intensity and exercise selection. Fatigue can be broken into acute and chronic. Acute = specific to the task. Chronic = unable to recover from stimulus usually from high volumes and intensities for long periods. If high volumes and intensities are done for short periods, this might be overreaching.
Overreaching is a planned part of the programme (high concentrated loading) followed by unloading to supercompensate 2-5 weeks post overreach phase.
Overtraining is associated with long-term decreases in performance from accumulation of training and non-training  stressors. Usually caused by monotonous non-varying training patterns sustained for too long or too frequently.
Ways to monitor and prevent overtraining:

  • periodize programme
  • individualize training
  • recovery and restoration measures – nutrition, sleep, supplementation, social, lifestyle
  • monitor (RPE, volume load, HR)
  • Questionnaire (POMS, wellness)
  • Educate them – sleep, nutrition, non-training stressors
  • Keep a training log

Passive recovery – sleep, aim for 9-10 hours including < 30 minute naps – simpleActive recovery – light exercise around 50% will improve lactate clearance and decrease CNS activity
Massage – reduces anxiety, tension, stress, depression, increases mood, relaxation, parasympathetic activity
Here is a theoretical model from Weerapong et al., (2005) that features in the book.

Theoretical Massage

Chapter 6 – Annual Training Plan

Divides the year into distinct phases with specific objectives. A sequential approach is necessary to stimulate adaptations as it’s not possible to maintain maximum capacity all year around.

The duration of each of the above phases will depend on the sport and competition, for example in track and field a bi-cycle may be more appropriate if the athlete will compete indoor and outdoor championships/events.

It is quite easy to develop your own template and design as you see fit – just  an example below.
Annual Plan

Anatomical Adaptation
Sometimes referred to as a hypertrophy phase to increase lean body mass, increase strength, work capacity and lay the neuromuscular foundations through high volume – moderate intensity across 4-6 weeks. Usually 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

Maximum Strength
Power and endurance are highly dependent upon maximum strength. Stronger individuals show increased power outputs and higher levels of muscular endurance. This phase builds on abilities developed in the anatomical adaptation phase and develops the specific neuromuscular attributes associated with power development. Usually 3-5 sets of 4-6 reps at 75-85 %1RM. This strength can be converted to speed strength through ballistic and plyometric exercises, but it is important to contain some exercises of a high enough intensity to maintain strength, while avoiding fatigue (reduce the number of exercises and sets/reps to 1-3 of each). When training for speed strength the load (% 1RM) will depend on the exercise used, 0-80% 1RM.

Extensive tempo

  • > 200 m
  • < 70% max speed
  • 45 rest between reps
  • < 2 minutes rest between sets

Intensive tempo

  • > 80 m
  • 80-90% max speed
  • 30s – 5 minutes rest between reps
  • 3-10 minutes rest between sets


  • 50-100 m
  • 90-100% max speed
  • 1-10 minutes between reps
  • 3-4 minutes between sets

Max Speed

  • 20-80 m
  • 90-100 max speed
  • 3-5 minutes rest between reps
  • 6-8 minutes rest between sets

Anaerobic Endurance

  • < 80 m
  • 95-100% max speed
  • 1 minute rest between reps
  • 4 minutes rest between sets

l will post the remainder of my notes next week.


One thought on “Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training

  1. Pingback: Science of Sports Performance | Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training 2

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