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© National Strength and Conditioning Association

Volume 28, Number 5, pages 56–66

Keywords: periodization; training variation; team sports; strength

training: metabolic conditioning

Periodization of Training for

Team Sports Athletes
Paul Gamble, PhD, CSCS
Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

tematic variation of training parameters, aim of manipulating these adaptation

summary in a way that directs physiological adap- effects, and avoiding the maladaptation
tations to the training goals required of phase, which could place the athlete in
Training variation and periodization the sport (6, 14, 28, 29, 34, 37). Accord- an overtrained state (6, 34, 39).
ingly, training studies typically find pe-
is widely acknowledged as crucial to riodized training to elicit improved This GAS paradigm has since been re-
optimizing training responses. Ap- training responses in comparison to fined and effectively superseded by the
training groups employing a constant fitness fatigue model (7, 28). A key dis-
plying periodized planning to team load throughout the study period (13, tinction is that the fitness fatigue model
37, 40). Consensus has thus largely been differentiates between the actions of a
sports poses unique challenges due reached among researchers and practi- given stressor on individual neuromus-
to the variety of training goals, vol- tioners that periodized training offers cular and metabolic systems (7). The
superior development of strength, other major advancement is that the
ume of concurrent training and power, body composition, and other model describes a dual adaptive re-
performance variables (13, 14, 35–37, sponse resulting in both fitness and fa-
practices, and extended season of 39, 40). tigue aftereffects, as opposed to the sin-
competition. Practical suggestions gle common response described by
The original theoretical basis of peri- GAS. These fitness and fatigue respons-
are offered in this article to address odization was the general adaptation es essentially work in opposition and are
syndrome (GAS) proposed by Hans described as having defined characteris-
these considerations and apply peri- Seyle (30), which described the generic tics, with distinct differences in both
odization in training design for dif- response of an organism to a stressor magnitude and duration (7). It is the net
(39). According to this model, the first effect of these 2 opposing outcomes that
ferent phases of physical prepara- phase of response to any stressor is char- determine the state of the athlete’s neu-
acterized as shock or alarm (6, 39). Fol- romuscular and metabolic system at a
tion for team sports athletes. lowing this is a supercompensation given time (7).
phase, whereby the body adapts to in-
Introduction crease the specific capabilities affected Accordingly, strength and conditioning
raining variation is increasingly by the particular stressor (6, 39). Over coaches working in a multitude of team

T acknowledged as serving a key

function in successful training
prescriptions (13, 37, 40). Periodization
time if the stressor continues the organ-
ism may enter the terminal phase,
termed maladaptation or exhaustion (6,
sports at various levels report adopting a
periodized approach to their program
design. The use of periodization was in-
offers a framework for planned and sys- 39). Periodization was developed with dicated by the vast majority of Division 1

56 October 2006 • Strength and Conditioning Journal

collegiate strength and conditioning for planned training variation were de- undertaken concurrently is that a pre-
coaches responding to a survey of their veloped for the competitive season in ceding bout of high-intensity endurance
methods (9). Similar surveys of profes- athletics (28). As a result, the classical exercise is shown to impair the ability to
sional North American team sports re- periodized format features extended perform strength training (23, 24).
ported comparable use of periodized training cycles designed to progressively After conditioning, players are not able
training design (10–12, 32). These in- prepare the athlete for 1 or 2 major to complete the same number of repeti-
cluded the National Basketball Associa- championships in the year (39). tions with a specified load that they are
tion (90% of respondents using peri- capable of without having performed
odized programs) (32), National Hockey The playing season for sports like foot- prior endurance exercise (24).
League (91.3% using periodization) ball and rugby union can span in excess
(11), and Major League Baseball (83.4%) of 35 weeks, particularly in Europe. If These interference effects are associated
(12). National Football League coaches coaches were to follow the classic model, with conflicting hormonal responses to
reported by far the lowest use of peri- training would taper considerably for strength versus endurance training (23).
odization models (69%) (10). This may the duration of the competition phase. Over time, when strength training is
be a result of the contact nature of the This is clearly counterproductive for performed in the same day following en-
sport; on the issue of training periodiza- most team sports (2, 20). It has been durance training, power development in
tion, one coach was quoted as saying, shown that following such restrictive particular is shown to be impaired (23).
“Weight training in football is different competition-phase repetition schemes It appears that exercises requiring great-
than any other sport. When you have may lead to excessive losses in lean body er neuromuscular control and coordina-
them healthy, (you) train them” (10). mass during the season, which is unfa- tion may be more susceptible to these
The fact that the data collection for this vorable for most power sports (1). Given interference effects.
study was notably earlier (1997–1998) this requirement to continue regular
than the other respective surveys may training over many months, achieving Time Constraints Imposed by
also have played a part. This may in turn the necessary training variation repre- Concurrent Technical and Tactical
explain the relatively greater use of high- sents a sizeable challenge. Training
intensity training methods (19%) by the Given the time constraints imposed
coaches in the sample (10), as such Multiple Training Goals by the high volumes of team practices
methods were enjoying relative populari- Team sports require several disparate and other skill training common to all
ty at the time. training goals. These may include hy- professional team sports, the time ef-
pertrophy, maximum strength, explo- ficiency of physical preparation is
Such difficulties as injuries and residual sive power, metabolic conditioning, and paramount. As the playing season ap-
fatigue underline the unique challenges injury prevention (16). All of these ele- proaches, focus inevitably shifts to
of designing periodized programs for ments must be addressed in the course of tactical aspects, with a greater number
team sports athletes. Providing appro- the training plan. Therefore there is a of team practices to prepare for the
priate metabolic conditioning and phys- need for planned variations in the train- forthcoming fixtures (19, 39). During
ical preparation within the time allowed ing program to systematically shift the the season, the need to maximize the
while athletes are concurrently required emphasis to promote these different effectiveness of whatever training
to perform high volumes of technical/ training effects at different phases of the time is allowed is greater still.
tactical training, team practices, and preparation period.
competitive matches requires consider- Impact of Physical Stresses from
able planning and skill (16). Some of the Interaction of Strength Training Games
considerations facing the strength and and Conditioning Allowances will inevitably need to be
conditioning coach when carrying out When programming strength training, made for players’ recovery following
this task are discussed below. coaches must also take account of the in- each match. Particularly in the days fol-
teraction of the metabolic conditioning lowing games, this need to allow the
Challenges for Incorporating that is performed alongside strength and players’ bodies to recover is likely to
Periodization into Team Sports power training (16). The physical activi- limit the intensity and volume of physi-
Athletes’Training ty involved in technical and tactical ses- cal training they are able to perform. It
Extended Season of Competition sions and team practices should also not has been identified that losses in muscle
A major obstacle for coaches working in be overlooked. mass may occur during the playing sea-
seasonal team sports is the frequent son due to the high volume of physically
matches and extended competition peri- A major consideration when strength demanding practice sessions and com-
od. The classical periodization models training and metabolic conditioning are petitive games (1).

October 2006 • Strength and Conditioning Journal 57

In the case of contact sports in particu- Solutions for Incorporating which strength and power development
lar, consideration must also be given to Periodization in Team Sports are compromised by concurrent meta-
the physical stresses associated with Training bolic conditioning work (24). When
both practices and matches that result Extended Competitive Season strength training is prioritized and per-
from violent bodily contact with oppo- It is vital that strength training is main- formed before conditioning, these inter-
nents and the playing surface. Indeed, tained in-season to prevent significant loss- ference effects can be reduced (24).
there has previously been some argu- es in strength, power and lean body mass
ment whether it is possible to maintain (1, 2). Periodization schemes for in-season This approach is shown to optimize
strength and power levels during the training will necessarily differ to those ap- strength training responses of profes-
competitive season in collision sports plied during off-season and preseason train- sional rugby league players, to the extent
such as rugby football (20). Some au- ing cycles. This will be discussed in greater that strength and power measures can be
thors have suggested that the conse- detail in a later section in this article. maintained during the course of a
quent muscle tissue damage incurred lengthy (29-week) in-season period (3).
may compromise the amount and inten- Multiple Training Goals Younger (college-aged) players can even
sity of strength training players are able Due to the need to maintain different increase strength and power scores dur-
to perform, to the extent that strength neuromuscular and metabolic training ing the playing season when adopting
and power levels may be diminished goals as well as cater for technical and this approach (3).
over time (20). tactical practice, some periodization
strategies may not be appropriate for a Time Constraints Imposed by Con-
The complications outlined often repre- given sport. Emphasizing a particular current Tactical Training
sent an obstacle to effective application training goal for an extended preparato- The issue of limited training time may
of periodized training in many team ry cycle to the exclusion of other aspects be addressed by optimizing the time ef-
sports. Consequently, it is probable that of performance will tend to be impracti- ficiency of concurrent training. A use-
many teams are not enjoying the full cal when training team sports players. ful strategy is to incorporate different
benefits offered by periodization strate- approaches to combine practice and
gies. Each of these issues must be man- An example of a periodization scheme that physiological training effects in a single
aged for periodized training to be effec- appears less suited to the multiple training session. Particularly in-season, speed
tively implemented. goals associated with many team sports is development and agility work can be
the conjugate sequence system (28). This is included in team practice sessions (39)
Despite these considerations, training an advanced approach that aims to exploit Similarly, plyometric work can be in-
variation remains vitally important for fitness and fatigue aftereffects by consecu- corporated into strength training ses-
team sports athletes. This is important tive overload cycles, alternately stressing sions late in preseason and in-season,
to alleviate the monotony that can oth- one motor quality (e.g., strength) for a peri- for instance, by combining them in the
erwise affect compliance throughout a od then switching to overload another form of complex training.
long season of training and competition motor quality (e.g., speed) for the subse-
(39). Taking player motivation aside, a quent training cycle (28). Two main train- A good example of combined physiolog-
key consideration is that it is counter- ing goals are hence typically coupled in this ical and technical training involves the
productive to train in the same way for approach. During the overload phase for use of game-related methods for meta-
extended periods. Short-term training the other motor quality in the couple bolic conditioning (17). The skill ele-
studies consistently show training pro- (strength), a low-volume maintenance pro- ment involved encourages coaches to
grams that incorporate periodized train- gram is undertaken for the motor quality continue metabolic conditioning via the
ing variation elicit superior results (37, not being emphasized (speed) (28). These use of game-related conditioning meth-
40). Continued exposure to the same cycles are repeated consecutively. The fact ods when the training emphasis shifts to
training fails to elicit further adaptation, that many team sports require a greater skills practice and game strategy (15).
and in time may lead to diminished per- number of training goals than the 2 motor Continuing metabolic conditioning in
formance (39). It is therefore vital to qualities typically addressed in this peri- this form during the playing season is
vary the training stimulus at regular in- odization format would obviously make the likely to allow cardiorespiratory en-
tervals to prevent plateaus in training re- application of this approach difficult. durance to be better maintained in-sea-
sponses. Solutions to these complica- son.
tions must therefore be sought to enable Interaction of Strength Training
periodized training to be incorporated and Conditioning The tactical metabolic training (TMT)
into athlete’s physical preparation in a The sequencing of the training day ap- format allows conditioning drills to be
given sport. pears key to minimizing the degree to modeled upon competition demands for

58 October 2006 • Strength and Conditioning Journal

the given sport (17, 27). In this way, characterized by progressive increases in 1RM (≈6RM load) are found to be most
structured plays can be used according to training intensity with simultaneous re- effective for increasing strength (25).
the work : rest ratios observed from com- ductions in training volumes through- This points to the importance of operat-
petitive games (27). Therefore, technical out extended preparatory training cycles ing close to their RM loads when train-
and tactical practice drills can be used as a (39). As has been asserted previously, ing competitive athletes. In support of
means for metabolic conditioning (17). this is in fact a misnomer (38). By defi- this is the superior strength (6RM bench
nition any periodization scheme is non- press) and power (40-kg bench throw)
An alternative approach is to use skill- linear, involving (nonlinear) variation in gains noted with elite junior athletes
based conditioning games, featuring training parameters both within and be- performing 6RM training, in compari-
modified rules based upon the playing tween training microcycles. son to a group matched for overall load
area and technical and tactical demands and volume who performed 3 repeti-
of the sport (15, 17). Indeed, these have All intensity prescriptions in the exam- tions at 6RM load for twice the number
been suggested to offer the most effec- ple given in the next section are repeti- of sets (8).
tive and time-efficient means for meta- tion maximum (RM) values, which is
bolic conditioning in many sports (21). similar to the undulating periodization The practice of using light (percentage
Skill-based conditioning games likewise described by Fleck and Kraemer (14) RM) workouts has grown predominantly
offer the benefit of concurrent develop- and Wathen et al. (39). The player is ex- out of training for power athletes (38),
ment of decision making and communi- pected to lift the maximum load they such as weightlifting. Practitioners and
cation under competitive conditions can handle with proper form for the as- researchers with a background in the
and when fatigued (15, 17). signed number of repetitions on any competitive lifting events have con-
given training day. The only exceptions tributed much to the field of strength
Impact of Physical Stresses from to this are ballistic lifts (e.g., jump and conditioning and many programs in
Games squat) during power cycles, for which use today reflect this (14). Strength and
Scheduling of training in-season and maximal power percentage RM values power are the primary goals for power
during late preseason when competitive are used. athletes and therefore workouts to devel-
matches are being played should take op strength and power form the bulk of
appropriate measures to tailor training The use of RM loads is a departure from their training. In contrast, team sports
sessions to the physical status of that the classical approach as described by players must also develop strength-en-
player. In the day(s) immediately fol- Stone et al. (34), which typically features durance and power-endurance, among
lowing the game, strength training will light and moderate days of submaximal other training goals. The frequency of
necessarily be limited to light recovery intensity at percentages of RM values. strength/power training for power ath-
workouts, implemented alongside acute Some authors assert that the inclusion of letes will also typically far exceed that ex-
recovery practices. Similarly, the strength lighter percentage RM workouts within perienced by team sports players. In
and conditioning coach should be pre- the training microcycle is necessary to terms of exercise selection, variations of
pared to modify the workout scheduled avoid neural fatigue and potential over- the snatch and clean and jerk lifts as well
for a given day in the event the player training (18, 33). While this may be the as the squat and deadlift necessarily fea-
reports to training with a diagnosed case for power athletes, due to the differ- ture prominently throughout all phases
acute injury that will preclude them ences in their respective training I would of preparation for power event athletes
from performing certain exercises on argue the same might not hold true of (26). Again this is not the case for
that day. team sports players. This contention is team sports players, who must develop
based upon personal experience of im- strength and power for a much greater
Approach to Periodization plementing a year-long training macro- variety of training movements and ex-
It has been suggested that undulating cycle, using RM loads throughout, with perience a much broader selection of
nonlinear periodized approaches are elite senior professional rugby union training exercises as a result (16). Cer-
more viable when planning the training football players without noting any ill ef- tainly team sports players would rarely
year for team sports (14, 39). However, fects. Our observations indicate the play- be asked to perform Olympic style lifts
at some phases of the training year, par- ers experienced gains in strength and more than twice in a week, which
ticularly off-season and preseason, ap- power in this period. would limit the impact of neural fa-
proaches similar to the classical periodi- tigue on lifting technique.
zation model do still have application, Furthermore, meta-analyses of dose–re-
which is explored further in the next sec- sponse relationships for competitive Variation within microcycles does remain
tion. This classical approach has been athletes indicate that training studies crucial for team sports players—particu-
termed “linear” on the basis that it is with a mean training intensity of 85% larly at the elite level—from the point of

October 2006 • Strength and Conditioning Journal 59

pean soccer and rugby football leagues,
Table 1
this is not always the case.
Off-Season Mesocycle

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Due to the long season of competition, it

is vitally important to allow a period of
10RM 3 sets 8RM 3 sets 12RM 3 sets active rest following the end of the play-
ing season (39). Similarly, in view of the
Overhead squat DB split squat Leg press
Bench dips Bench press Incline DB bench press length of time players are engaged in su-
Seated cable row One-arm DB row Lat pulldown pervised training it makes sense to allow
EZ bar bicep curls Seated DB shoulder press Machine hamstring curl players to undertake the early initial part
Single-leg calf raise Back extensions DB upright row + bicep curl of the off-season training unsupervised
EZ bar upright row and off-site, before calling them back
into full-time supervised training. This
10RM 3 sets 12RM 3 sets 8RM 3 sets will undoubtedly have a psychological
Leg press Bent-over DB raises Bench press benefit by limiting the monotony of the
DB split squat Supine DB pull-overs One-arm DB row training ground environment.
Back extensions Lateral DB raises Seated DB shoulder press
Machine hamstring curl EZ bar bicep curls Seated cable row Exercise selection during the off-season
Knee extensions Cable tricep pushdown EZ bar upright row will be characterized by general strength
Single-leg calf raise DB front raises DB bicep curls training exercises for overall develop-
Prone DB shoulder rotation ment. It is important from the point of
Note: DB = dumbbell; RM=repetition maximum.
view of training variation that lifts that
are considered sport-specific are not used
exhaustively throughout the duration of
view of guarding against overtraining. In this section, sample mesocycles will the training year (39). General strength
However, rather than incorporating light be provided to illustrate the peri- exercises, such as machine exercises and
workouts, this may be achieved by the use odization strategies proposed for each single-joint exercises for upper and lower
of different RM assignments within the phase of the training year for a generic body, do still have merit, particularly at
training week. Limiting the number of team sports athlete, using the example this phase of the athlete’s preparation
workouts in the training week for a given of a rugby football player. The ratio- (31). Similarly, cross-training methods
body part and appropriate scheduling of nale for the approach used for each of and recreational sports are applicable to
whole-body, lower-body, and upper- the respective training cycles are out- maintain body composition and meta-
body workouts may similarly be used to lined below. Specific program vari- bolic conditioning (39). Plyometrics,
provide the necessary recovery (5). Exer- ables, such as the length of each phase speed work, and agility training are not
cise selection between workouts both and exercise selection, will obviously performed at this time but are reserved
within and between microcycles can fur- vary according to the length of the for later training phases. A sample off-
ther serve to vary the training stimulus playing season and demands of the season mesocycle is presented in Table 1.
and thereby avoid neural fatigue. particular sport.
Practical Example of a Peri- Off-season As alluded to previously, preseason for
odized Training Scheme for a For the purposes of clarity, the off-sea- team sports is a time when technical and
Team Sports Athlete son phase for team sports will be de- tactical practices are concurrently sched-
The degree of variation in training loads fined as the period prior to the start of uled. As a result, physiological training
and volumes will depend on the age and structured technical and tactical prac- sessions must be planned in the context
experience of the player. Elite players are tices. Whether the strength and condi- of the other training and practices play-
capable of tolerating higher training tioning coach actually has the luxury of ers are required to perform. From this
stress; hence training intensity and vol- a supervised off-season period when the point of view, it is therefore vital that
ume remain close to their upper ranges players report back after the postseason scheduling is carried out in collabora-
for a large part of the training year (39). break tends to depend on the willing- tion with the coaching staff.
Furthermore, elite athletes will tend to ness of the coaching staff to delay the
require a greater degree of variation to start of practices to allow him to do so. Within the constraints of concurrent
optimize the effectiveness of their train- As a consequence of the length of the training and practices, scheduling of
ing (28, 37). playing season, particularly in Euro- weekly training will follow fitness fa-

60 October 2006 • Strength and Conditioning Journal

Table 2
Preseason Mesocycle


Microcycle training parameters Example whole-body workout Lower-body workout

(10 RM; 3 Sets) (12RM; 4 Sets)

Frequency: 4 per week: Parallel back squat Front squat

2(1)* upper-body Incline dumbbell bench press Single-leg knee extension
1(2)* whole-body Dumbbell lunge Dumbbell step up
1 assistance Barbell bench row Single-leg hip extension
*Week 2 frequency in brackets Back extension Dumbbell split squat
Wide-grip dips
Intensity: Dumbbell split squat Upper-body workout
8–12RM (all lifts) Volume: 3–5 sets 8RM; 5 Sets

Rest: Bench press

Short rest (<60 s) between lifts Lat pulldown
Core work (~2 min) between sets Dumbbell shoulder press
Cable fly
Dumbbell upright row


Frequency: 4 per week: Whole-body workout Upper-body workout

2(1)* upper-body (6RM; 3 Sets) (8RM; 4 Sets)
1(2)* whole-body
1 assistance lift
*(Week 2 frequency)

Intensity: 6–8RM multijoint lifts Stop clean Incline dumbbell bench press
8RM assistance lifts Volume: 3-5 sets Bench press Wide-grip chins
Push press Dumbbell shoulder press
Rest: Bent-over barbell row Narrow-grip dips
Multijoint lifts 2–3 min Parallel back squat One-arm dumbbell row
Assistance lifts 60 s Single-leg knee extension Dumbbell bicep curl


Frequency: 5 per week: Whole-body workout Upper-body workout

2 whole-body (7RM; 3 Sets) (10RM; 5 Sets)
2 upper-body
1 assistance

Intensity: 7–10RM (all lifts) Snatch pull Bench press

Volume: 3–5 sets Wide-grip dips Cable fly
Front squat Barbell bench row
Wide-grip chins One-arm dumbbell row
Dumbbell split squat Dumbbell shoulder press
Rest: Dumbbell shoulder press Dumbbell upright row
Short rest (<60 s) between lifts Romanian deadlift

Note: RM=repetition maximum.

tigue effects, up until the beginning of while the athletes are fresh, whereas fa- As suggested earlier in the article, a
warm-up matches towards the end of tiguing workouts are performed at the modified version of the classic format
preseason. Specifically, workouts early end of the week to allow the athlete the for training periodization still has appli-
in the week emphasize complex core lifts weekend to recover (7). cation during this phase of training for

October 2006 • Strength and Conditioning Journal 61

Table 2
Preseason Mesocycle (con’t)


Microcycle training parameters Example whole-body workout Lower-body workout

(10 RM; 3 Sets) (12RM; 4 Sets)

Frequency: 4 per week: Whole-body workout Upper-body workout

2 whole-body (6RM; 3 Sets) (7RM; 4 Sets)
1 upper-body
1 assistance
Intensity: 5-7RM multijoint lifts Stop snatch Bench press
8RM assistance lifts Volume: 3-4 sets Incline dumbbell bench press Barbell bench row
Clean + split jerk Wide-grip dips
Rest: Parallel back squat Dumbbell shoulder press
Multijoint lifts 2-3 min One-arm dumbbell row Narrow-grip chins
Assistance lifts 60 s Dumbbell overhead split squat


Frequency: 3 per week Whole-body workout Upper-body workout

2 whole-body (5RM; 3 Sets) (6RM; 4 Sets)
1 upper-body

Intensity: 4-6RM (all lifts) Snatch Ballistic push-up

Volume: 3-4 sets Bench press Wide-grip chins
Stop clean + press Incline dumbbell bench press
Rest: Barbell bench row One-arm dumbbell row
3-4 min between exercises Front squat


Frequency: 2 per week Whole-body workout

2 whole body (4RM; 4 Sets)

Intensity: 4-5RM (all lifts) Jump squat

Volume: 3-4 sets Alternate box hops
Clean + press
Rest: Ballistic push-up
3-4 min between exercises

Note: RM=repetition maximum.

team sports. According to this classic tated in sequence (in the traditional A further suggested manipulation is to
model, exercise selection features a pro- order), culminating in a peaking cycle incorporate day-to-day variation, by
gression from general strength exercises prior to the start of the playing season varying prescribed RM loads during
to sport-specific lifts as the player ad- (19). The relative emphasis in terms of each respective training week. This al-
vances through preseason training cycles length and number of each mesocycle will lows variation on multiple levels—both
(39). be determined by the requirements of the within and between microcycles, which
sport (19). For example, in a sport that is has been suggested to favor optimal
Another suggested amendment to the clas- reliant on lean body mass, the hypertro- training responses (37).
sical model during the preseason prepara- phy cycles will be relatively longer and will
tion phase for team sports athletes is to feature more prominently. Conversely, The volume of plyometrics, speed, and
shorten the duration of the respective cy- sports in which excessive hypertrophy is agility work will vary depending on the
cles to a maximum of 3 weeks (19). In counterproductive will similarly favor training cycle. These training modes will
turn, these shorter mesocycles can be ro- strength and particularly power cycles. feature most prominently in strength-

62 October 2006 • Strength and Conditioning Journal

and power-oriented cycles as the presea-
Table 3a
son progresses. The format of metabolic
Four-week (3:1) In-season Summated Microcycle
conditioning may consist of a combina-
tion of TMT drills and skill-based condi- Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
tioning games early in the preseason (17).
8RM; 3 Sets 7RM; 3 Sets 6RM; 4 Sets 4RM; 3 Sets
The emphasis will shift to a greater em-
phasis on conditioning games later in the Wide-grip chins Parallel back squat Clean + press Stop snatch

Day 1
preseason as training time is more re- DB front raise Incline DB bench Bench press Bench skips
stricted and there is a greater demand for DB triceps One-arm DB row Parallel back squat Ballistic push-up
technical and tactical practices. An exam- DB hammer curls DB shoulder press B/over barbell row Narrow-grip chins
ple of a preseason mesocycle with sample DB lateral raise Knee extension DB step up
workouts from each cycle is presented
6RM; 2 Sets 6RM; 3 Sets 5RM; 3 Sets
in Table 2.
Day 2 Jump squat Snatch Jump squat
In-season Wide-grip dips Single-leg drop Alternate box hops
Undulating nonlinear periodization Push press jump Incline DB bench
models are typically suggested for in- Narrow-grip chins Ballistic push up Front squat
season training (39). The rationale for Wide-grip chins B/over barbell row
this is that these methods may be better
Table 3b
suited to maintain the athlete close to
Three-week (2:1) In-season Summated Microcyle
their peak throughout an extended sea-
son of regular competitions. Week 1 Week 2 Week 3

7RM; 3 Sets 6RM; 4 Sets 4RM; 3 Sets

It has been identified that average train-
ing intensity should be maintained above Front squat Power clean Snatch
Day 1

80% 1RM in order to maintain strength Bench press Alternate box hops Resisted knee drive
levels during the course of a playing sea- Wide-grip chins Parallel back squat Ballistic push-up
son (20). High loads (≥80% 1RM, or DB shoulder press Bench press B/over DB raise
≥8RM) are implemented 2 days per week Narrow-grip dips One-arm DB row
for multijoint lifts. This loading scheme
6RM; 2 Sets 5RM; 3 Sets
is shown to maintain, or even increase,
strength levels throughout the playing
Day 2

Clean + split jerk Jump squat

season in American football (20). Cable cross-over Push press
DB upright row Incline DB bench
Similarly, a training frequency of 2 days DB Bicep curl Narrow-grip chins
per week is often recommended for
training during the competitive phase Table 3c
Two-week (1:1) In-Season Summated Microcycle
(39). In accordance with this, the ma-
jority of strength and conditioning Week 1 Week 2
coaches in professional leagues typical-
ly report strength training twice per 6RM; 4 Sets 4RM; 3 Sets
week in-season (10–12, 32). However, Snatch pull Jump squat
Day 1

these recommendations for in-season Bench press Single-leg drop jump

training need not be excessively restric- Stop clean + press Incline DB bench
tive. A range of training frequencies and Parallel back squat Wide-grip chins
training param-eters are possible that
will maintain average training frequen- 5RM; 3 Sets
cy and intensity within the ranges rec- Power clean
ommended. Players may train between
Day 2

Alternate box hops

1 and 3 times per week at various times Wide-grip dips
in the season. Likewise, a variety of in- Narrow-grip chins
tensity prescriptions may be used at
Note: DB = dumbbell; B/over = bent-over; RM=repetition maximum.
different phases, while still maintain-

October 2006 • Strength and Conditioning Journal 63

Table 4
In-Season Overload Week

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4

8RM; 3 Sets 7RM; 4 Sets 7RM; 3 Sets 6RM; 3 Sets

Narrow-grip chins Front squat Ballistic push-up Clean + split jerk

Dumbbell shoulder rotation Bench press Dumbbell shoulder press Bench skips
EZ bar triceps One-leg hip extension Wide-grip chins Incline Dumbbell bench
Dumbbell hammer curl Bent-over barbell row Narrow-grip dips One-arm Dumbbell row
Dumbbell upright row Knee extension Dumbbell upright row
Narrow-grip dips
Note: RM = repetition maximum.

ing average training intensity above (28). These cycles are repeated in series scribed by the summated mesocycles ap-
80% 1RM. at greater or lesser relative intensities. proach. In the weeks preceding the un-
This basic pattern can be repeated over loading week, steplike increases in vol-
It has been shown that low volume/high an extended period, to create a wavelike ume load (product of loads lifted and
intensity in-season programs may not be pattern in lifting intensity and training repetitions completed) are achieved by
sufficient to maintain lean body mass in volume. lifting higher loads, greater selection of
power sports athletes, specifically Ameri- heavy load lifts, and finally increases in
can football players (1). A novel approach It is proposed that the summated micro- number of sets (see Tables 3a–3c). How
suggested for such team sports players cycles approach may be altered in order these variations of in-season microcycles
that are reliant on strength and power in- to tailor respective microcycles to the are sequenced into the in-season plan
volves multiple mini-microcycles. This fixture list. Specifically, the length of will depend on the fixture list and densi-
method comprises hypertrophy, strength, each summated microcycle can be modi- ty of games in different periods within
power, and peaking cycles of short dura- fied according to the competetive games the season.
tion (2 weeks) performed in series (1). in the period. Important matches and
This (8-week) series can be repeated games against particularly strong oppo- Conversely there will generally be op-
throughout the length of the playing sea- nents represent natural times to taper portunities during the season for more
son. Hence, this approach is essentially a training in-season; likewise, periods intensive strength training, such as dur-
condensed version of the traditional clas- with many games concentrated into a ing fixtures in lesser competitions, or
sical periodization format. short space of time will obviously re- midseason breaks for international
quire reduced training frequency. In matches. In sports with an extended
The “summated microcycles” approach both these instances there will necessari- competitive season, such as is seen in
would also appear to offer a framework ly be the unloading week at the end of European soccer and rugby leagues, this
for in-season periodized training (28). the summated microcycle, in order to may be necessary to maintain physiolog-
Variations of this approach have been allow players to enter these matches in ical adaptations. This will tend to be the
successfully applied in both rugby union peak condition. Hence, depending on case particularly in collision sports that
and rugby league (2). This format in- the timing of these games the summated are reliant upon high levels of lean body
volves a steplike increase in volume load microcycle may range from 2 to 4 weeks mass, strength, and power. At appropri-
(the product of training volume multi- in length, always concluding with an ate times midseason, mini (1-week)
plied by training intensity) followed by a unloading week. Therefore, microcycles overload microcycles may therefore be
pronounced taper. Classically, the sum- may feature a 1:1, 2:1, or 3:1 ratio of implemented. Table 4 features an over-
mated microcycles format operates loading to unloading weeks. load week to be used for shock eleva-
around a 4-week cycle, with the final tions in volume-load mid-season that
week of the 4-week cycle acting as an un- Tables 3a–3c display typical microcycles may be necessary for team sports that
loading week, featuring a pronounced featuring variations in frequency and fulfill the relevant criteria.
taper in volume load. This is designed to volume load according to the approach
accommodate the time course of the described of average volume load that Weekly scheduling of workouts in-sea-
physiological processes underlying will form the foundation for the wave- son is dictated by the dual need to allow
training adaptations and fatigue effects like manipulations in volume-load de- the player to recover from the previous

64 October 2006 • Strength and Conditioning Journal

match and avoid excessive residual fa- This is not to say that the DUP approach odization models—Point. Strength
tigue at the end of the week in prepara- in the above example can be concluded to Cond. J. 23(1):42–43. 2001.
tion for the next game. This is true of all be superior. What the findings of Rhea et 6. BROWN, L.E., AND M. GREENWOOD.
the variations of the in-season microcy- al. (29) illustrate is merely that continu- Periodization essentials and innova-
cles (see Tables 3a–3c). ing reliance upon a single periodization tions in resistance training protocols.
method may produce attenuated training Strength Cond. J. 27(4):80–85. 2005.
During the season, plyometric training responses. This is particularly likely to be 7. CHIU, L.Z.F., AND J.L. BARNES. The
will predominantly be integrated into the case for elite players, who will have far fitness-fatigue model revisited: Impli-
strength training sessions by employing greater training history than the subjects cations for planning short- and long-
complex training methods. Team prac- in the study by Rhea et al. (29). term training. Strength Cond. J. 25(6):
tices as well as matches will also provide 42–51. 2003.
a plyometric training element (19). Hence, the best approach would appear 8. DRINKWATER, E.J., T.W. LAWTON, R.P.
Dedicated speed training sessions may to be to strategically combine periodiza- L INDSELL , D.B. P YNE , P.H. H UNT,
be performed on alternate weeks in-sea- tion methods. Periods in the off-season AND M.J. MCKENNA. Training leading
son. Agility training can form part of and preseason without competitive to repetition failure enhances bench
these dedicated biweekly speed sessions. games will undoubtedly allow different press strength gains in elite junior ath-
Specific agility work may also be incor- approaches to periodized training to letes. J. Strength Cond. Res. 19(2):382–
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sions (39). For reasons of time efficien- recovery when matches are scheduled. 9. DURELL, D.L., T.J. PUYOL, AND J.T.
cy, metabolic conditioning in-season Periodization schemes implemented in BARNES. A survey of the scientific data
will likely be almost exclusively in the each training mesocycle throughout the and training methods utilized by colle-
form of skill-based conditioning games training year should be selected based giate strength and conditioning coach-
(17). upon what best fits the needs of the re- es. J. Strength Cond. Res. 17(2):368–
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66 October 2006 • Strength and Conditioning Journal