One of the biggest challenges when it comes to coaching is blending the art and science components together for continued adaptation and progress. As coaches we may differ in our philosophy and execution but almost all high successful coaches work from a framework that is set upon scientific principles. The framework can involve simple or more complex forms of periodization ranging from linear or undulating. Some of the most popular types of periodization are the following:

  1. Linear
  2. Undulating
  3. Block
  4. Conjugate
  5. Vertical Integration
  6. Bulgarian
  7. 5-3-1
  8. Triphasic

Lately, as I continue working concurrently with middle/high school athletes and high performance athletes I’ve begun to question the effectiveness of periodization as well as the practicality of it.

Regardless of the philosophy and periodization scheme you employ, periodization theory is largely predicated upon Hans Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome. As I dug into more of the research and literature what I learned is that Selye himself viewed stress as biological and independent of the brain – that is was almost purely physical as well as the fact that it could occur in a timely predictable fashion. Hence, the reason we have tidy and neat mesocycles but that last 4-6 weeks in length.

To quote John Kiely, “ The periodization paradigm is built on the implicit assumption that mechanical loading parameters directly dictate biological training adaptations.”

The issue is that adaptation and progression is anything but predictable. Human beings are complex organisms – whether coaching an adolescent in puberty or a high performance athlete – there are many other stress signals (hormonal, social, mental) being displaced onto these individuals.

This month’s featured resources will, at the very least, reframe how you think about your training and coaching and hopefully will help you call into question periodization and its efficacy.

Now, onto this month’s featured resources.

  • 📔Journal | Periodization: An Inconvenient Truth by John Kiely
    • If my brief write up on periodization got your curiosity juices flowing you will enjoy reading the full paper John wrote. Note: I will be interviewing John on my podcast so if you have questions, write me back and I’ll be sure to ask.
  • 📚Book | Anatomy of Movement
    • One of my weaknesses as a coach has been my lack of foundation in the sciences. My undergraduate and graduate degrees are in business and communications and having a solid understanding of functional anatomy is critical to any coach. This book is a phenomenal resource. Each chapter covers a specific area of the body and the author looks at bones, ligaments/tendons and muscles in each area then explains how they relate to movement. It’s been an excellent read and is already helping me on the communication front with my colleagues in the clinic as well as on the program design si
  • 🎥Lecture | Intensify or Extend: Balancing Training Prescription Across the Duration Range with Stephen Seiler
    • Clocking in at 1.5 hours this lecture gives a in depth overview of balancing training for multiple endurance sports. It’s really helpful to look at how some of the best train and how the intensity is broken apart.

What resource have you found most useful so far?

Very Best Wishes,

Joe