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What is periodization?

This is an excerpt from Dumbbell Training-2nd Edition by Allen Hedrick.

Periodization

Periodization is the practice of dividing training into specific cycles, with each cycle targeting a specific physiological adaptation. While periodization is most commonly used in the training programs of athletes, it can also be effectively used in training programs for the general population. The topic of periodization by itself could make up a textbook, so what follows is a short review. There are various approaches to periodization. Classical periodization, which is used for a power sport, typically uses the following sequence of training cycles:

  1. Introduction—Low-volume, low-intensity training prepares individuals for the more demanding training to follow.
  2. Hypertrophy—High-volume, moderately intense training increases muscle size and muscle endurance. Increasing muscle size is important because of the positive relationship between muscle size and strength.
  3. Strength—Moderate-volume, high-intensity training begins to bring strength to a peak because of the relationship between strength and power.
  4. Power—Low-volume, high-intensity training shifts the increases in strength to increases in power.
  5. In-season—Low-volume, high-intensity training maintains gains in muscle size, strength, and power during the competitive season.


Periodization for a power and endurance sport (e.g., soccer) takes a slightly different approach from the classical style. For example, after the power cycle, a power and endurance cycle of high-volume, moderately intense training that focuses on explosiveness to increase power and endurance simultaneously should be added. The in-season cycle maintains muscle size, strength, power, and endurance through low-volume, high-intensity training.

  1. Introduction—Low-volume, low-intensity training prepares individuals for the more demanding training to follow.
  2. Hypertrophy—High-volume, moderately intense training increases muscle size and muscle endurance. Increasing muscle size is important because of the positive relationship between muscle size and strength.
  3. Strength—Moderate-volume, high-intensity training begins bringing strength to a peak because of the relationship between strength and power.
  4. Power—Low-volume, high-intensity training shifts the increases in strength to increases in power.
  5. Endurance and power—High-volume, moderately intense training puts an emphasis on explosiveness to increase power and endurance simultaneously.
  6. In-season—Low-volume, high-intensity training maintains the increases in muscle size, strength, power, and endurance during the competitive season.


The specific cycles, sequences of cycles, and the length of each cycle vary based on training goals, age and training background, physiological needs of the individual, and so on. To achieve specific physiological adaptations in each cycle requires carefully manipulating rest times, intensity, exercise selection, exercise order, number of sets, number of repetitions, and frequency of training.