Periodisation at Hammer Athletic

You may have heard us mention the word, ‘periodisation’ in our posts, blogs and conversations over the past 18months.

But what does it mean?

To be honest it is just a fancy word for strategy. The funny thing is strength and conditioning are two terms that don’t necessarily complement each other and takes some rules to follow so they can work concurrently, enter the term periodisation. Periodisation is a whole semester of learning in a degree where there is a multitude of protocols, techniques, viewpoints and studies that is way to long to entertain here.

So I will attempt to shorten it and give some examples to make you understand why we have such a high focus on periodising our programs:

  1. ‘The Interference effect’ – A lot of conditioning work (aerobic and anaerobic training, or more popular term for the average punter ‘cardio’) and a lot of volume (high reps and sets) in the gym will effectively cancel each other out and usually result in injury or illness. Why? Well high-volume lifting causes our body to become anabolic or put on muscle mass. It does this by damaging muscles and through mechanical strain causing the muscle to adapt by growing bigger muscles (hypertrophy) to prepare the body for just in case we do it again down the track. On the other hand, when we do lots of conditioning work the body usually strips down fat and muscle in order to become lighter and more efficient. Because when the body is moving long distances or in multiple directions often it looks to strip weight so it doesn’t have to carry as much saving energy. This is little process is known as catabolism (muscle atrophy or wastage).

So with these two conflicting processes they usually cannot be done together causing and interference effect. How is this countered? Well if your conditioning is high as in high km on the field, road, pool, track whatever your resistance program should be low reps high intensities (heavy). Giving the muscular system a reprieve by reducing some mechanical damage/strain but pushing the CNS by working max strength. This somewhat, but not completely nullifies the interference effect and gets you stronger and fitter with a reduced risk of injury and interference. Obviously vice versa if your conditioning is low then increase the reps in the gym and capitalise on that time by building more muscle mass, the off season is a great time for this.

  1. ‘Monotony/Strain’ – Another issue that must be taken in to account when planning or periodising your strength programs is monotony. You shouldn’t perform the same exercises same set ranges, and rep schemes every day, week in week out. This is called monotony and you will display overuse injuries, degenerative injuries to tendonitis pathologies. Also by doing the same stimulus day in day out your ability to adapt and improve will also diminish. We have to constantly overload the system for it too adapt and improve and we also have to mechanically change angles of exercises and timing of exercises, intensities, rep ranges etc etc. However, we also have to be careful to not change the stimulus to much. We must allow the system to adapt to the program before it changes again. This is one of my gripes with places like crossfit, fitstop, and other chain franchises.

So the less experienced the lifter the longer the phase of programming as it takes them a little longer to adapt and master the exercises. The more experienced the lifter your ability to change the program can be more frequent as they respond to the stimulus more efficiently.

To conclude in a sport setting the periodisation can be complex and very specific to their respective seasons, there is different rules for off-season, pre-season and in season. Moreover “the general pop” who just like lifting and being healthy, you should loosely follow a volume phase (high reps) into a strength phase (low reps heavy wt) to maybe a strength/power phase (moving moderate wt fast whilst still ticking over some heavy lifting) then heading back to some volume again and repeating the process. If you cycle through phases like this, you avoid most of the issues I mentioned above and actually capitalise on the platform each preceding phase establishes.

If your facility is making you do 1000 squat jumps in to long runs or high volumes of work then expecting to lift heavy the next day then maybe question if they know what they are doing because that’s how people get hurt or as mentioned above the mechanisms at work won’t actually work together and inhibit your gains physiologically, its not all about just burning as many calories as possible.

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