Types of Periodization Models in Sports Training: Linear and Non-Linear
Exercise • • minute to read • By INFS, INFS Faculty
Periodization training is an essential aspect of designing a training program for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. It involves systematic manipulation of training variables such as volume, intensity, and frequency to achieve specific performance goals. Over the years, two dominant models of periodization have emerged: Linear Periodization (LP) and Non-Linear/Undulating Periodization. In this article, we will delve into these models and discuss their implementation.
What is Periodization?
Periodization is a systematic approach to training that involves the manipulation of training variables such as volume, intensity, and frequency to achieve specific performance goals. It is commonly used in sports and fitness training to optimize performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Types of Periodization in Sports Training
There are several types of periodization in sports training, but the two most common models are Linear Periodization (LP) and Non-Linear/Undulating Periodization. Let’s explore each in more detail.
What is Linear Periodization?
It is the classical periodization model that has been used for decades. In LP, a training program is divided into distinct blocks based on time frames, and there is a gradual increase in training intensity and a drop in volume. The phases usually include endurance/hypertrophy, strength, and power-focused training, lasting approximately four to eight weeks each.
Let’s look at an example of Linear Periodization
For example, a beginner client may work with a coach for six months using corrective exercise protocols to reduce muscle imbalances that may affect performance goals. After the initial period, the coach may decide to use the LP model to design a training program that gradually increases in intensity and decreases in volume as the client moves across different phases.
Who can benefit the most from Linear Periodization?
Linear periodization is best suited for beginners and intermediate level athletes or fitness enthusiasts who are looking to build a foundation of strength and muscle mass. It is a simple model that is easy to implement and understand. However, it may not be suitable for advanced athletes who need a more complex program to achieve their goals.
What is Non-Linear/Undulating Periodization?
It is a newer model that involves frequent changes in training intensity and volume in the training program. The changes occur on daily, weekly, or biweekly periods. The undulating periodization model is subdivided into two main categories: daily undulating and weekly undulating.
Let’s look at an example of Non-Linear/Undulating Periodization
For example, an intermediate to advanced level client training for a minimum of two years with a coach may use the Undulating Periodization model to maintain peak strength and performance for an extended period. On Monday, the client trains for hypertrophy using higher volume and moderate-intensity using shorter rest periods. On Wednesday, they may perform moderate volume with higher intensity and longer rest periods. Finally, on Friday, the client may perform maximum strength or power effort using increased sets of low reps and moderate rest periods.
Who can benefit the most from Non-Linear/Undulating Periodization?
Non-Linear/Undulating periodization is best suited for intermediate to advanced level athletes or fitness enthusiasts who are looking to maintain peak strength and performance for an extended period. It is a more complex model that requires a deeper understanding of training variables and their effects on performance. However, it is a more flexible model that can be customised to meet the specific needs of individual athletes.
Intensity and Volume Recommendations
To plan training phases using either LP or Undulating Periodization, a coach can use the following intensity and volume recommendations:
- Intensity: Minimum 50% to Maximum 75% of 1 repetition maximum
- Sets: Minimum 3, Maximum 6
- Repetitions: 8 to 20
- Intensity: Minimum 80%, Maximum 95% of 1 repetition maximum
- Sets: Minimum 2, Maximum 6
- Repetitions: 2 to 6
- Strength Intensity: Minimum 87%, Maximum 95% of 1 repetition maximum
- Power Intensity: 30% to 85% of 1 repetition maximum
- Sets: Minimum 2, Maximum 5
- Repetitions: 2 to 5
It is important to note that the success of a periodization model depends on the planning of the training program and its variables. A coach should have a deep understanding of the different training variables in a resistance training program and their effects on performance to get the most out of a periodization model, whether Linear or Undulating.
- Periodization is a systematic manipulation of training variables such as volume, intensity, and frequency to achieve specific performance goals.
- Linear Periodization is the classical periodization model that has been used for decades, and a training program is divided into distinct blocks based on time frames.
- Non-Linear/Undulating Periodization is a newer model that involves frequent changes in training intensity and volume in the training program.
- Intensity and volume recommendations are based on specific training goals and should be adjusted accordingly.
- Success with periodization models depends on the planning of the training program and its variables. A well-planned periodization model can help athletes and fitness enthusiasts achieve their performance goals effectively.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is reverse linear periodization, and how does it differ from linear periodization?
Reverse linear periodization is a type of periodization model that involves starting with high intensity and low volume and gradually reducing the intensity while increasing volume over the training cycle. This differs from linear periodization, where the focus is on gradually increasing intensity and reducing volume. Reverse linear periodization is often used by advanced athletes who want to peak for a competition while maintaining a high level of strength and endurance.
Can periodization be used for hypertrophy training?
Yes, periodization can be used for hypertrophy training. A coach can design a training program that gradually increases volume and intensity over time to promote muscle growth. This type of periodization is often called hypertrophy-specific training (HST) and may involve using high-rep sets with shorter rest periods to induce muscle fatigue and promote growth.
How long should each phase of a periodization program last?
The length of each phase of a periodization program can vary depending on the athlete’s training goals, level of fitness, and training history. Generally, each phase should last between 4-8 weeks, with a minimum of 2 weeks per phase. However, some athletes may benefit from longer or shorter phases, depending on their individual needs.
Is periodization only used in strength training, or can it be used in other types of training, such as endurance training?
Periodization can be used in various types of training, including endurance training. For example, an endurance athlete may use a periodization program to gradually increase their mileage and intensity over time to improve their endurance and performance.
Can periodization be used for bodyweight training?
Yes, periodization can be used for bodyweight training. A coach can design a training program that gradually increases the difficulty of bodyweight exercises by manipulating variables such as sets, reps, and rest periods. For example, a beginner may start with basic bodyweight exercises such as push-ups and squats and gradually progress to more challenging exercises such as handstand push-ups and pistol squats.
Is periodization suitable for beginners?
Yes, periodization can be suitable for beginners. A coach can design a training program that gradually increases in intensity and volume over time, taking into account the athlete’s current fitness level and training goals. It is important for beginners to start slowly and focus on proper form and technique before progressing to more challenging exercises.
How often should I change my periodization program?
It is recommended to change your periodization program every 8-12 weeks to prevent plateaus and keep your body challenged. However, the length of each program may vary depending on your training goals and individual needs.
Can I design my own periodization program, or should I work with a coach?
While it is possible to design your own periodization program, it is recommended to work with a coach, especially if you are new to training or have specific performance goals. A coach can help you develop a program that is tailored to your individual needs, monitor your progress, and make adjustments as needed to ensure optimal results.
- Brown, L.E., Bradley-Popovich, G. and Haff, G., 2001. Nonlinear versus linear periodization models. Strength Cond J, 23 (1), pp.42-44.
- Prestes, J., De Lima, C., Frollini, A.B., Donatto, F.F. and Conte, M., 2009. Comparison of linear and reverse linear periodization effects on maximal strength and body composition. The Journal of strength & conditioning research, 23 (1), pp.266-274.
- Mann, J.B., Thyfault, J.P., Ivey, P.A. and Sayers, S.P., 2010. The effect of autoregulatory progressive resistance exercise vs. linear periodization on strength improvement in college athletes. The Journal of strength & conditioning research, 24 (7), pp.1718-1723.
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