Periodization & Programming

For most of us following a strength program, chances are it follows some sort of periodization. Now the larger question usually is.. What is Periodization?

The NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) defines it as “Periodization is a method for employing sequential or phasic alterations in the workload, training focus, and training tasks contained within the microcycle, mesocycle and annual training plan. The approach depends on the goals established for the specified training period. A periodized training plan that is properly designed provides a framework for appropriately sequencing training so that training tasks, content and workloads are varied at a multitude of levels in a logical, phasic pattern in order to ensure the development of specific physiological and performance outcomes at predetermined time points.”

Now I’m sure most of you read that and had a little head tilt, it’s a lot of info! Below we’ve broken It down to the most common forms of periodization used today.

Linear Periodization

In this type of structure, volume will generally decrease while intensity generally increases over time.




Weekly Undulating Periodization (WUP)

In this type of structure, volume and intensity fluctuate on a week to week basis. For example, in a linear structure you may go 70% on week 1, 80% week 2, 90% week 3. A WUP approach may look like 70% on week 1, 90% week 2, 80% week 3 and 95% on week 4.


Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP)

In the last form of periodization, volume and intensity fluctuate within a single week. For example, if you Squat 3 Times per week, instead of squatting the same percentage in that week (80% for example), you could squat 75%, 80%, 85% in that week (Linear) or 75%, 85%, 80%. The latter is a form of undulating inception, where we undulate percentages weekly but also throughout each week as well.

Block Periodization (Cycles)

This is a training model that is separated into different focused blocks, cycles.. or phases. A 12 week training cycle can have a 4 week volume block followed by a 4 week hypertrophy block then followed by a 4 week strength block.


It is important to note that the different forms of periodization are not mutually exclusive and that well designed programs incorporate all or some forms together. Linear may be a safe route for a newer but it always serves its purpose for any level athlete. When programming an undulating block make sure to take into account basics principles of linear, as intensity increases volume decrease.

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