The link below is to a video from the 2012 NSCA Coaches Conference where world renowned sport scientist Dr Mike Stone presented on “Periodization and Programming for Strength Power Sports – the Short Reader’s Digest Version”. Dr Stone is the godfather of sports science with 40+ years of strength and conditioning research and application. I travelled across to the USA in late 2012 to see him present and witnessed a true passion for developing the most efficient training methods through extensive research, and this has been passed on to all who have had the honour of studying under him. This video is a great resource for any coach/student and you don’t need to be a member of the NSCA to view the video. Below are some notes which I took from the presentation.
There is no substitute for being strong, and there is no substitute for talent.
Some people’s window for adaptation is bigger than others.
Training is a process, therefore plan ALL aspects of the training process. Think long-term multi-disciplinary approach than early specialization
Question if athletes are actually “well trained”. College athletes go away for breaks from training several times per year and don’t come back the same athlete. This issue can also apply at the elite level, see the following quote from GB Cycling Coach Shane Sutton regarding GB’s lack of medals at the recent Track Cycling World Championships “They got it wrong. They went out for the festive season, came back and weren’t where they should have been. We’ve just gone backwards and I think the accountability rests with the riders.”
Be creative in exercise selection, utilize post activation potentiation, cluster sets, compound sets
You MUST monitor training – document what happens. Ask yourself “are they adapting? Which programmes work better than others?”
Rapid gains are not always in the best interest for the athlete. The rate of gain is directly related to the average intensity of training. Final performance level is inversely related to the rate of gain (think long-term). The time period of maximum performance is inversely related to the rate of gain.
BE WARY of going to maximum every time you step in the weight room. The use of RM Zones (e.g. sets of 8-10 RM) will result in quick gains, but will fall off long-term.
Fitness-fatigue – a drop in volume = potential for preparedness, likely leading to increases in performance
Overload = the intensity (force, power, RFD) of work
Specificity = metabolic & mechanical transfer
Variation = how we as coaches manipulate overload & specificity. Variation is the most important factor in fatigue management. Variation is the removal of linearity to cause specific adaptations by reducing overstress/overtraining.
Periodization vs. Programming
The overall concept can be broken down into specific periods (strength, power, strength endurance etc). Programming is how you make these periods occur (sets, reps, exercises, density, frequency, intensity)
Periodization is cyclical in nature bu manipulating variables to reach specific goals.
Goals of periodization
Reduction of overtraining potential & fatigue management
Maximize specific adaptation
Elevate performance at the right time (event/competition)
Focus on general to specific (remember specificity relates to metabolic and mechanical aspects)
Progress from high volume to low volume, there is usually an inverse relationship
Active rest results in rapid drop in fitness, so it may be better to drop volume & intensity to reduce dramatic losses in fitness
Athletes can’t hold a true peak performance for more than 3 weeks. This brings implications for when peaking if competing in sports/events with multiple competitions.
Simultaneous development of different physical & physiological characteristics or motor abilities presents a problem. A mixed methods approach (strength, strength endurance, power, aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance etc) results in high volumes, and poor fatigue management.
In the weight room, recovery time is likely to be greater after a higher volume load. However, a lighter volume load does not represent a “light day”. Sets of 10 with a lighter weight result in greater metabolic disturbance even though the amount of work is equal to sets of lower reps. Mike referred to this publication by Jeff McBride’s group at Appalachian State on Acute Responses to Different RT.
The number of competition days has increased, which reduces the number of days available to train. If you can’t train you won’t perform well.
The specific phase you’re in now potentates the next phase through concentrated loading & volume manipulation.
If you drop volume, strength can be maintained for some time.
If you develop bad technique you may be stuck with it for the rest of your life. When learning technique you may be limited by your strength. (In gymnastics stronger athletes pick up technique faster, e.g. ability to hold an iron cross will be limited by strength).
Freshman (strength endurance & basic strength)
Sophomore (basic strength)
Junior (basic strength & power)
Senior (strength & power)
Fluctuate light & heavy days. If there are too many consecutive moderate – heavy days you never allow the athlete to recover and this mutes adaptation. By applying a big stimulus (heavy day/high volume) followed by an unload (light day/low volume) gives the athlete a chance to recover and adapt. See this paper by Carl Foster who has published numerous research on the use of Rate of Perceived Exertion in resistance training Foster Monitoring Training OTS MSSE 98.
Examples of Microcycle day-to-day variation
The use of relative intensities (eg. 60% 1RM = L/Light) minimizes the risk of overtraining athletes. Heavy and light days are created by adjusting load, not the repetitions/sets which changes the overall volume load. One method of programming called Daily Undulating Periodization which varies daily from e.g 10-12 RM on Monday, 6-8 RM on Wednesday, and 2-4 RM on Friday. Looking back at the acute hormonal responses to a training workout depending on the load/set/rep scheme, “lighter days” e.g. 10-12 RM are actually increasing the volume load, therefore actually become the “heavy day” as it will take longer to recover from. Again this causes problem for fatigue management and the likelihood of overtraining syndrome.
See Periodization_Strategies for more information periodization and programming, including basic, intermediate and advanced periodization strategies.