Unlock Peak Performance: 5 Revolutionary Steps in Strength Training Periodisation

The Evolution of Strength Training Periodisation

The Genesis of Periodisation

Periodisation, which originated from the Russian sports sciences of the 1960s, has been a cornerstone in strength training. It advocates for the cyclical division of training to maximise athletic success. Charles Poliquin furthered this concept by introducing it to a broader audience, emphasising its necessity for preventing plateaus and enhancing performance.

Core Principles of Periodisation

Periodisation is the strategic variation of training variables—repetitions, sets, tempo, and rest—to ensure continuous progress. This approach adapts to the athlete’s evolving needs and promotes peak performance at critical moments.

Decoding Types of Periodisation

Linear Periodisation

This traditional model gradually increases intensity while decreasing volume, targeting specific event preparation. However, due to its singular focus, it may lead to detraining effects.

Undulating Periodisation

Undulating periodisation, characterised by its flexibility, alternates between volume and intensity. It is ideal for year-round training and ensures sustained progress.

Block Periodisation

Focusing on multi-week or multi-month blocks, this model is tailored to sports with distinct competition and preparation phases. It has been used successfully in various disciplines, notably leading athletes to Olympic victories.

Conjugated Periodisation

Popularised by Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell, this method trains multiple strength qualities simultaneously. It requires advanced coaching and athlete experience for effectiveness.

Implementing Periodisation for Optimal Results

Creating Your Training Cycle

Identify your goals and craft a periodised plan incorporating varying training intensity and volume phases. This tailored approach ensures the body continuously adapts, fostering growth and performance enhancements.

Balancing Volume and Intensity

Effective programming requires a careful balance between workload and recovery. Structuring your training to include lighter, recovery-focused periods is crucial for long-term success.

Adjusting for Athletic Evolution

As athletes progress, their training needs evolve. Periodisation allows for the integration of new techniques and adjustments in intensity, ensuring continuous development.

Monitoring Progress and Making Adjustments

Regular assessments allow for the fine-tuning of training programs. Adapting your strategy based on performance and feedback is key to achieving peak results.

Periodisation in Action: Success Stories and Evidence

Case Studies of Periodisation Success

Periodisation has underpinned numerous success stories, from Olympians to professional sports teams. These examples highlight the method’s versatility and efficacy across different sports and athlete levels.

The YPSI Approach to Periodisation

Wolfgang Unsöld’s wave-shaped periodisation model emphasises constant variation and has achieved remarkable results in athletic and personal training.

Navigating Challenges and Misconceptions in Periodisation

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Overtraining and insufficient variation are common issues. Regular changes in training focus and intensity can avoid these pitfalls, ensuring sustained progress.

Debunking Periodisation Myths

Misconceptions about periodisation often hinder its application. Understanding its principles and benefits is essential for coaches and athletes who aim for the highest performance levels.


1. What is periodisation in strength training, and why is it important?

Periodisation is a strategic planning approach that cycles training variables to prevent plateaus and optimize athletic performance, essential for long-term progress and peak performance.

2. How does linear periodisation differ from undulating periodisation?

Linear periodisation follows a progressive, straightforward increase in intensity while undulating periodisation cycles through high and low intensity and volume to foster continuous adaptation.

3. Can beginners benefit from periodisation, or is it only for advanced athletes?

Periodisation can benefit beginners and advanced athletes alike. For beginners, it provides a structured approach to increasing intensity safely, while for advanced athletes, it offers a method to challenge and progress their training continuously.

4. What was Charles Poliquin’s contribution to periodisation?

Charles Poliquin popularised the concept of periodisation in the Western training regimen, introducing it as a critical element for achieving superior strength and performance outcomes.

5. How do I implement a periodisation plan into my training regimen?

Start by defining your training goals, then segment your regimen into phases, each with specific focuses on volume, intensity, and recovery. Adjust based on feedback and progress towards your objectives.


Periodisation in strength training is more than a methodology; it’s a philosophy that embraces the complexity of human performance. By incorporating the principles of periodisation, athletes can achieve not just peak performance but sustained excellence. Periodisation unlocks the door to unparalleled athletic achievements through strategic planning, careful adjustment, and a deep understanding of one’s own body. As Charles Poliquin and Wolfgang Unsöld have shown, the path to greatness is not linear but cyclical, requiring hard work and smart work.

Remember, the journey to peak performance is unique to every individual. Periodisation offers the map, but it’s up to each athlete and coach to navigate their path to success.

References and further reading: 

1. A Systematic Review of Meta-Analyses Comparing Periodized and Non-periodized Exercise Programs: This study aimed to systematically review meta-analyses on exercise periodisation to determine if periodised programs were compared to non-periodized ones in terms of constant or varied training and whether predictions concerning cumulative adaptations were tested. The review found limitations in the existing meta-analyses and suggested that consulting original research on the subject could be more informative (Frontiers)​.

2. Reverse Periodization for Improving Sports Performance: A systematic review that analysed the effects of reverse periodisation versus other types of periodisation models. This review included studies published in English and peer-reviewed journals that analysed the effects of at least eight weeks of training interventions. It focused on various sports, including swimming, running, and strength training, comparing reverse periodisation with traditional and block periodisation models (SpringerOpen)​.

3. Research Spotlight: Effects of Periodization on Strength Gains: This article discusses the nuances of periodisation research, noting that periodised training often leads to larger strength gains than non-periodized training, albeit with a small overall effect. It highlights a study comparing periodised versus non-periodized training where volume, average intensity, and peak intensity were matched, finding no significant difference in strength gains. This suggests that while periodisation may not independently improve strength gains, it provides flexibility in training designs (Stronger by Science)​.

4. Article on wavy periodisation by Charles Poliquin from NSCA Journal of 1988. Five steps to increasing the effectiveness of your strength training program

The following resources offer a thorough understanding of the current research on periodisation in strength training, including its benefits and drawbacks. The studies emphasise the intricate nature of creating periodised training programs and imply that their effectiveness may rely on their implementation and the particular characteristics of the training population. Ultimately, while periodisation may result in enhanced performance, it is important to consider the nuances of its application.

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