Undulating Periodization

I just finished reading a book by Kraemer and Fleck which advocates for the use of an undulating approach to periodizing training. I can see some of the advantages for athletes but could it work for powerlifters? I have never heard of any world class IPF lifters using this type of approach. Any thoughts or experiences with this type of program?

wlewisj's picture

Which Book are you referring to?

The method in their latest book - Non-Linear Programing - is not that suitable. Here, they suggest changing the intensity every day. This is more appropriate for sports (basketball, volleyball, football, etc.) that have long competitive seasons and may not be able to get in the gym consistently.

The method in their older books is the method that Poliquin proposes - alternate periods of intensity with periods of volume (accumulation). This gives you repeated effort at similar intensity. This is what Doc's, or any properly planned periodization plan does.

Undulating Periodization

The book was called Optimizing Strength Training. I have never read any of their older stuff, I got the impression their older literature was along the same lines as Bompa ie Hypertrophy phase, Strength Phase, and Power Phase etc. I agree with you that the undulating approach is probably more appropriate for athletes in sports with longer competitve seasons and strength training not being the main focus.

What you are describing sounds like block training. Issurin (Spelling) talks about blocks of training that focus on accumulation, intensity etc. I though Fred hatfield was more along the lines of a linear approach, atleast that's what his program looks like on the Iron Seminar.

Todd Wilson's picture

It can work fabulously for

It can work fabulously for powerlifters! IPF, PFI, AAP, AAF, USS, CIA, or otherwise.

wlewisj's picture

That's the new book.

Their older work was similar to Bompa but that new book is different. They base the workout on how you feel - readiness. In one week they suggest that you have 3 workouts - heavy, medium, and light. That is not enough time to elicit a sufficient response for someone in weightlifting or powerlifting. But, it makes sense for team sports as practice can hamper recovery and readiness for the next workout. For example, if you are not ready for a intense workout at 85-90 percent then perform a lighter workout with 70 percent.

When Todd (Poliquin) speaks of undulating periodization, he is referring to periods of high intensity (more percentage of max) alternated with periods of accumulation (more reps/volume). You stick with an intensity phase for say 6 weeks then go to an accumulation phase for a few weeks. I think I am correct when I say this. Each phase builds off the previous. Bompa starts with Anatomical Adaptation while Doc calls it Foundation training. Both use lighter weights with higher reps. This reduces bodyfat and gets you in shape to handle heavier weights in the later phases. Then, they both progress to a hypertrophy phase and a peaking phase later.

This works for powerlifting. I have been doing this for years. Most powerlifters do this. Up until the mid 90's, Louie Simmons (West Side) constantly preached go heavy all year. After more reading, more injuries, or some combination of the two, he changed that and now they are taking deload every 3-4 weeks. He has always opposed linear periodization.

wlewisj's picture

Linear periodzation

Start with sets of 10 and progress to double and singles. This is not what Doc advocated. He spoke of periodization in terms of 4 phases. He even spelled it out in terms of Western terms of Preseason, In Season, etc.

wlewisj's picture

Todd, what federations are

Todd, what federations are those? Or, were you just throwing some letters out there?

Undulating Periodization and powerlifters

Would you set the training up as described in their book. I have no intention of using it I am just curious.

Dr. Squats Program

The Iron Seminar shows fred hatfields progression from 4x8 to 3x3. So if you were to track that in terms of percentages it would probably transition a lifters from 70% all the way through to 95-100%. No peaks and valleys in that type of loading though. On paper it looks like a typical linear approach, with plyometrics added in on extra days at the end of the program. Am I missing something.

Todd Wilson's picture

Just me being a butt! Also,

Just me being a butt!

Also, something I thinking is being misunderstood in this discussion is the application of undulating periodization. There is no single or even correct way. It has a myriad of applications within not only a microcycle of 3-6 workouts, but within the mesocycles and macrocycles.

One could use a type of linear periodization within the quadrelennial macrocyle for an Olympic athlete with peaks for national and world championships, yet undulate microcycles and/or mesocycles within that broader context.

Have not read Kramer and Fleck's latest work, but "Periodization Breakthrough," has excellent examples.

wlewisj's picture

I cannot comment on the

I cannot comment on the Seminar that you speak of. If you look at his older books, you will see how he periodizes training. I think that Seminar is only covering the peaking phase and it is probably some of his older stuff. His routines changed in each of his 3 powerlifting books. The bodybuilding books clearly has undulating in them. Try not to get too caught up on the peaks and valleys. Contest time is a peak. After the contest you have a valley - take it easy, address injuries, build more muscle for the next peak, etc.

Bompa's "Serious Strength Training" has good yearly plans similar to the one Todd mentions in Kraemer's older book. They break down the macrocycle into mesocycles into microcycles. The ones for strength are appropriate for powerlifting. They even break it down so that you can peak for several competitions in a macrocycle.

The summer is usually my Anatomical Adaptation (Foundation) phase. Then I progress to Hypertrophy to build some muscle. Both of these are more accumulation. Then, I will do a Mixed Training cycle to get ready for peaking. The intensity starts to increase here. Then, I have another Hypertrohy phase which adds more volume. Finally, it a maximum Strength Phase (intensity) to peak for the contest. I generally spend 4-6 weeks in each phase of the first mesocycle (first meet). Then, I go back to an accumulation phase for hypertrophy for about 2-3 weeks. Then, it is time to peak again for the next competition. Most of my year is hypertrophy and peaking which follows undulating periodization perfectly.

The science is there and it works. You have to stick to the plan though.

wlewisj's picture

I agree that there is an

I agree that there is an infinite number of ways to undulate.

I would say not to waste your time with their latest book. But, I do not see the value of doing workout by workout as in the new book. It is rare for someone to totally adapt to new stimuli in one workout. You, Poliquin, Doc, Bompa, Hartmann, Yessis, etc. all say 3 to 6 workouts before you change up things. But, I can see the application for team sports as they outline. They use a lot of data from UCONN teams for this book.

undulating Periodization and Sheiko

Kramer and Fleck describe using various sets/reps and intensity zones each session. Constantly changing through phases of training. Doesn't seem all that different from Sheiko training? Guess there is only so many ways of doing the same thing.

wlewisj's picture

I haven't looked at Sheiko

I haven't looked at Sheiko but like Todd said, there is no one right way.

Todd Wilson's picture

Kramer and Fleck describe

Kramer and Fleck describe using various sets/reps and intensity zones each session. Constantly changing through phases of training. Doesn't seem all that different from Sheiko training?

### Sheiko is a specific system/method...... you can apply or not apply undulating periodization to a Sheiko type workout.

Guess there is only so many ways of doing the same thing.

### It's infinite actually, but what you have these days is guys polishing turds, inventing things that have been around for 60 years, or rediscovering something and ripping off someone and purporting it to be their own.

### I found an article the other day by a guy weighing every bit of 175 lbs. "ripped" describing his new method of using the power rack. Problem is, his suggestions were nowhere nearly as good as Anthony Ditillo's from 30+ years ago were.

I used to lift in the CIA,

I used to lift in the CIA, but found that were sloppy on squat judging. And if you missed a lift, they'd wax you in an alley after the meet and then take out your family a few days later.