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Old 09-28-2014, 09:25 AM   #1
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Default Periodization for athletic performance

I'm developing the first draft of the program I'll be running with my athletes once I get things up and running at my gym. After my current peaking cycle I'm going to be running the program myself so I can make tweaks and prepare myself to coach the program.

At first I wanted to use long term block periodization that would be based on the athletes off season, but that quickly fell by the wayside, because I need to be able to integrate new athletes whenever they may decide to join the program. That means the periodization needs to be short term. At first this was the framework I came up with;

Periodization for intermediate to advanced athletes-
Hypertrophy/GPP- 4 weeks
Strength- 7 total weeks with 6 weeks of training and 1 week deload
Speed- 7 total weeks with 6 weeks of training and 1 week deload

To me this seems short term, but when I added it all up it still takes over 4 months to get through this plan. The obvious fix is to throw out block periodization altogether and go with a conjugate periodization, but I think there's a way to get the best of both worlds. Here's what's banging around my head now;

3x3 week mesocycles followed by a 1 week deload and retesting as needed for a total of 10 weeks each cycle-
Mesocycle A, 3 weeks- Hypertrophy/GPP focus with strength elements
Mesocycle B, 3 weeks- Strength focus with hypertrophy assistance
Mesocycle C, 3 weeks- Speed focus with strength elements

Essentially it would be laid out to move progressively from hypertrophy to strength to speed, with very low specificity. Each mesocycle would essentially use conjugate periodization as multiple skills would be trained throughout, but those specific skills would progressively change through each block.

A program based around 10 week cycles with low specificity would allow me to integrate new athletes whenever they signed up, as athletes would only be put into the intermediate or advanced programs if they already had some lifting experience anyways. Since the program is for non-strength athletes which by it's nature never requires high specificity, the program never really requires a long foundation/GPP cycle because it never becomes specific enough to cause any degradation of GPP in the first place.

This 10 week cycle could simply be repeated over and over, then before an athlete starts practice I would have them do a conditioning cycle to prepare for the season. The length of this cycle would be adjusted based on the athletes specific needs.

Thoughts?
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Old 09-28-2014, 09:37 AM   #2
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Reminds me, at least in the theory of blocks with an emphasis on a certain characteristic, of Matt Vincent's "Training Lab" book, a lifting program designed for Highland Games athletes. He basically alternates blocks with a strength focus and speed focus for the majority of the year. I think this type of system could work well.

What sort of athletes are you training?
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Old 09-28-2014, 10:10 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by CountryFriedMuscle View Post
Reminds me, at least in the theory of blocks with an emphasis on a certain characteristic, of Matt Vincent's "Training Lab" book, a lifting program designed for Highland Games athletes. He basically alternates blocks with a strength focus and speed focus for the majority of the year. I think this type of system could work well.

What sort of athletes are you training?
The focus will be group training for athletes aged 9 up to college. From what I've read I can expect most of my athletes to be high school football players. There will be a separate group for ages 9-14 to build GPP and prepare athletes to move into the intermediate program. I'll also have a separate group for females only, but the females will have the option to train in the male classes if they want to and are physically prepared.

There's actually a super expensive high class training facility in the town in which I'm starting my gym that works with kids down to 6 years old. I hate that. 6 year old kids should be developing GPP by riding their bikes and playing pickup football with their friends.
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Old 09-28-2014, 04:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Soldier View Post
The focus will be group training for athletes aged 9 up to college. From what I've read I can expect most of my athletes to be high school football players. There will be a separate group for ages 9-14 to build GPP and prepare athletes to move into the intermediate program. I'll also have a separate group for females only, but the females will have the option to train in the male classes if they want to and are physically prepared.
ning facility in the town in which I'm starting my gym that works with kids down to 6 years old. I hate that. 6 year old kids should be developing GPP by riding their bikes and playing pickup football with their friends.
I agree with you; I think for most kids it should be GPP based until they are at least 12. If you want them to get stronger at that age, running and body weight movements work well.

My only thing I can think of that might not work out well with this program is the differing seasons of some of your athletes. It might be time for the football players to being building their strength up in the off season while other athletes need to focus on speed/power for their sport. Do you have your athletes grouped by sports, or by general seasonality?
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Old 09-28-2014, 05:41 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by CountryFriedMuscle View Post
I agree with you; I think for most kids it should be GPP based until they are at least 12. If you want them to get stronger at that age, running and body weight movements work well.

My only thing I can think of that might not work out well with this program is the differing seasons of some of your athletes. It might be time for the football players to being building their strength up in the off season while other athletes need to focus on speed/power for their sport. Do you have your athletes grouped by sports, or by general seasonality?
They'll be grouped by age and ability. It'll be a small private warehouse gym. I'll account for different seasons by using a specialized conditioning program to lead into the season for each athlete, as I believe that off season training should focus on traits that take longer to develop like strength, and conditioning should be introduced as late as possible. My normal template won't include conditioning. If I have enough non-football athletes than I may take sport into account when grouping athletes. That would definitely make things easier when it comes time to start conditioning, since most conditioning work will be done outside and most standard training will be inside.

Differing seasons is actually one of the reasons I shortened my cycles down to this 10 week version.
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Old 09-28-2014, 06:30 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Soldier View Post
They'll be grouped by age and ability. It'll be a small private warehouse gym. I'll account for different seasons by using a specialized conditioning program to lead into the season for each athlete, as I believe that off season training should focus on traits that take longer to develop like strength, and conditioning should be introduced as late as possible. My normal template won't include conditioning. If I have enough non-football athletes than I may take sport into account when grouping athletes. That would definitely make things easier when it comes time to start conditioning, since most conditioning work will be done outside and most standard training will be inside.

Differing seasons is actually one of the reasons I shortened my cycles down to this 10 week version.
Alright, now that I have heard your rationale, it makes perfect sense. I think you are spot on with the shorter cycles. It is easier to sync up various sports that way, and I also think its easier on the athletes mentally. I remember when I played football, we would use 3 or 4 month long cycles and it was mentally exhausting. Going that long without much in the way of feedback was very frustrating.

I am very interested in how you are setting things up soldier; doing something similar is a dream of mine. My school's strength and conditioning program was a joke, and I firmly believe that several of the nagging injuries/issues I have today were due to the poor program design and execution. Helping other people improve for their sport, and do so in a healthy way, would be amazing.
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Old 09-28-2014, 08:27 PM   #7
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Alright, now that I have heard your rationale, it makes perfect sense. I think you are spot on with the shorter cycles. It is easier to sync up various sports that way, and I also think its easier on the athletes mentally. I remember when I played football, we would use 3 or 4 month long cycles and it was mentally exhausting. Going that long without much in the way of feedback was very frustrating.

I am very interested in how you are setting things up soldier; doing something similar is a dream of mine. My school's strength and conditioning program was a joke, and I firmly believe that several of the nagging injuries/issues I have today were due to the poor program design and execution. Helping other people improve for their sport, and do so in a healthy way, would be amazing.
That's exactly where I'm coming from. I remember even while I was playing high school football already knowing that our program was shit. At the time I didn't really know how to improve it, but that's changed now. I think I have a very good idea of how to make kids into the best they can be, and once I get some kids through the system I'll be able to improve it even more.

I'm out of the Army in the next 4-6 months, and the day I get home I'm starting the process of getting the gym going. My wife is on board and I can't wait to make this happen. It's a pretty complex process, and every day I think of something new I have to look into and make a plan for, but I'm really confident that when it comes down to it I'll be ready to go.
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Old 09-28-2014, 09:26 PM   #8
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Looks good overall. My boy is 8yr and I'm waiting for him to be ready for a few thing. He plays soccer but has played every sport in our area. Been talking about football too. We have done a bit of foot work, speed drills and such. Things I've done for track and football.

Have your worked with many kids near his age?
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Old 09-28-2014, 10:50 PM   #9
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Looks good overall. My boy is 8yr and I'm waiting for him to be ready for a few thing. He plays soccer but has played every sport in our area. Been talking about football too. We have done a bit of foot work, speed drills and such. Things I've done for track and football.

Have your worked with many kids near his age?
I spent time as an elementary school teacher, and while I was there I got to spend a few months doing PE (the head PE teacher wanted to get into administration, so he needed some classroom time. He and I switched out every day at lunch.) I learned a ton about PE for kids who are still developing so quickly. I've also been lucky enough to spend some time coaching youth athletes in sports.

I'll be new to this sort of athletic training with youth athletes, but I have a ton of experience working with kids of that age in other ways. I actually really enjoy working with younger kids, even though my main demographic for this gym will be teens.

I will add that even though I'm going to open my doors to kids down to 9, It'll probably actually be rare that I bring in anyone that age. Elementary age kids will get a lot more stimulation and GPP from just playing games and having fun. But if a 9-12 year old young man or woman WANTS to train and get into the gym I'll be happy to help them. They'll have to want it though. If their parents are trying to force them in because they have dreams of their 10 year old getting a D1 scholarship and the kid really just wants to play video games, I'm not going to waist the kid's time and the parent's money.
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Old 09-28-2014, 11:04 PM   #10
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Sounds like solid advise. Same approach I have taken with my boy so far. He does his own routine almost every night. Push ups, crunches and Air Squats. His Soccer team is playing up a league this year in U9. We where worried they would have a hard time playing up, but so far 5 games in and undefeated so far.

It's a neat thing watching young kids learn and develop there skills and the drive of the game.
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