CSCS Chapter 21: Periodization
CSCS Study Guide Chapter 21

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    Chapter Goals:

    • Know the concepts underpinning training periodization.
    • Understand the value, role, and application of periodization in programs.
    • Discuss the four periods of the traditional periodization model.
    • Discuss the two phases of the prep period of the traditional periodization model.
    • Know the four sports seasons and the four traditional periodization model periods.
    • Utilize the variables of program design to make a strength training program.

    Central Concepts Related to Periodization

    General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)

    Alarm = Athletes may have soreness, stiffness, and temporary drops in their performance.

    Resistance = Body adapts to stimuli by making biochemical, structural, and mechanical adjustments.

    Exhaustion = Fatigue, soreness reappearance, and the body loses its ability to adapt to stressors.

    Stimulus Fatigue Recovery Adaptation Theory

    This states training may give a general response influenced by overall magnitude of training stressors.

    The more workload that is encountered, the more fatigue happens to the body and the longer the delay of recovery and adaptation.

    Full recovery is not always needed for a new bout of exercise to be started.

    Fitness Fatigue Paradigm

    With every session, the fatigue and fitness aftereffects occur and create states of preparedness.

    When loads of training are the greatest, fitness is elevated.

    Fatigue goes away quicker than fitness, thus you can elevate preparedness.

    Periodization Hierarchy

    Periodization Cycles

    Multiyear plan is 2 – 4 years.

    Annual training plan is 1 year and can have one or multiple macrocycles. It has various periods of training like prep, competitive, and transition periods.

    Macrocycle is several months to a year. It has preparatory, competitive, and transition periods

    Mesocycles are 2 – 6 weeks. They are medium-sized cycles referred to as training blocks. Most commonly 4 weeks.

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    Microcycles are between days and 2 weeks. Most commonly one week.

    Training day is one day and can have multiple sessions.

    Training session can be several hours. If there is greater than 30 minutes of rest, it is considered another session.

    Periodization Periods

    Preparatory Period

    The first period is typically the longest and happens when there is no competition and only some sport specific practices or game strategy sessions.

    Provides a base conditioning level for increasing the athlete’s tolerance for more intense training.

    Hypertrophy/Endurance Phase

    Low to moderate intensities (50 – 75% 1RM)

    High to moderate volume (3 – 6 sets of 8 -20 reps)

    Basic Strength Phase

    High intensity (80 -95% 1RM)

    Moderate Volumes (2 – 6 sets of 2 – 6 reps)

    First Transition Period

    In between prep and competition periods. The main goal is for shifting training toward strength elevation and power development.

    Strength/Power Phase

    Low to high loads (30 – 95% 1RM)

    Low volume (2 – 5 sets of 2 – 5 reps)

    Competition Period

    For peak, use very high to low intensity (50 – >93% 1RM)

    For peak, use very low volume (1 – 3 sets of 1 – 3 reps)

    For maintenance, training intensity should be 85 – 93% 1RM)

    For maintenance, volume should be 2 – 5 sets of 3 – 6 reps.

    Second Transition Period (Active Rest)

    Between competitive season and the next macrocycle prep period.

    This period has recreational activity that can involve resistance training.

    This period gives a time period for the athlete to rehabilitate injuries and physically and mentally refresh prior to a new annual training plan. Period shouldn’t be longer than four weeks.

    Applying Sport Seasons to the Periodization Periods

    Off Season

    Considered prep period. Usually it is from the postseason’s end to the preseason’s start. About 6 weeks prior to the first major competition.


    Begins the first contest and has the late prep stages and the first period of transition with focuses on strength/power of resistance training.

    In Season

    Has all the competitions for the year.

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    Post Season

    Follows the final competition.

    Important to active rest before the off season the following year.

    Undulating vs Linear Periodization Models

    Linear: The traditional resistance training periodization model with a gradual progression mesocycle and increases in intensity over time.

    Undulating/Nonlinear: This periodization model alternative has a lot of fluctuations in load and volume for core exercises.

    Example of an Annual Training Plan (Basketball)


    Intensity of sport specific training increases.

    3 times a week of resistance training with focuses on power and strength.

    Anaerobic training and plyometrics are the highest priorities.

    In Season

    The main goal is to keep and improve strength, power, flexibility, and anaerobic conditioning. 

    Limit for Resistance training of 30 minutes for 1 – 3 times a week with alternating plyometric training.

    Most of the time is on skill and strategy.

    Post Season

    There aren’t formal or structured workouts.

    Low intensity and volume for recreational activity.

    Off Season

    Testing for the beginning and end of off season.

    Higher priority is on resistance training.

    Flexibility and aerobic endurance training.

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    CSCS Chapter 21: Periodization 1
    CSCS Chapter 21: Periodization 2
    CSCS Chapter 21: Periodization 3

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