Source: Kinesiology Review
Title: Periodization Training from Ancient Precursors to Structured Block Models
Author: Vladimir B. Issurin (Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sport, Israel)
This review article provided a short historical overview of the history of periodization. It turns out that the idea of periodization training for elite athletic performance has been around for thousands of years. Ancient philosophers and physicians like Galen had already conceived some notion of periodization for strength training purposes.
This method of training became more popular with the advent of the modern Olympic movement. Consequently, the first books on periodization were published in 1916. Today, after almost a hundred years of literature, the general ideas revolving around periodization have not changed much from the “classic” approach which dictates 3 main phases: a general preparatory phase, more specialized training and lastly specific preparation for forthcoming competition.
More recently, alternative versions of this traditional concept has emerged and one such version is the multi-targeted block structure model. This involves specialized blocks (Mesocycles) intended to develop minimally compatible targeted abilities within each block. This includes some form of off-season training phase, where the athlete would work on basic athletic abilities, followed by a phase to work on more specific athletic abilities. The last phase involves tapering before the competition, restoration and peak-performance.
The remainder of the paper lists the outcomes of recent studies examining the efficacy of this block structure model. In every study, this model proved superior to the traditional program and it worked across diverse sports disciplines from kayaking to skiing and even soccer.
I was interested in this topic because I needed more information on how to plan my training cycles to perform in the sport of Obstacle Course Racing of which I am currently self-coached and intend to compete in the Elite category. This information was useful but did not give me more details, specifically, on the need to periodize at all as it compared traditional periodization methods with modern alternative models. I feel that one of the reasons why the Block periodization models worked so well was because they were designed with more frequent high intensity training as compared to the traditional methods of long low to moderate intensity training. This correlates with the irrefutable evidence that high intensity training elicits more improvements in VO2 max than other forms of training (in the short run of a few weeks at least). Thus training methodology is also an important factor that should be controlled too.