October 19, 2023 2 min read
PERIODIZATION 2/10: Western/Linear Periodization by Shane Robert
Western Periodization is a linear model of periodization that states training should gradually progress from low intensities and a large volume of work to high intensities and a low volume of work, typically over many weeks to several months. It aims to peak an athlete's performance at a specific time, often aligning with a competition or event. After the peak has finished, the cycle starts over using slightly heavier weights, usually based on the new 1 rep max established in the previous cycle.
First proposed by Russian sports scientist Leonid Matveyev and popularized in the US by Dr. Mike Stone, this method of periodization was very popular with strength athletes in the 1970’s, 80’s and first part of the 90’s. Examples of terrifically strong athletes who used this style of training include Ed Coan, Bill Kazmaier, and Kirk Karwoski.
Here are the key features and principles of Western periodization:
PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD: Western periodization is built on the principle of frequent (weekly) progressive overload. It involves systematically increasing training intensity (percentage of 1 rep max) over time to stimulate muscle growth and strength gains.
PHASES: Western periodization typically consists of three main phases with distinct:
PERIOD LENGTH: The length of each phase can vary based on the needs of the athlete. Someone who is quite lacking in weight could spend more weeks in the hypertrophy phase, while someone who has filled out their weight class might need to spend more time in the strength phase.
LINEAR PROGRESSION: The training intensity increases in a linear fashion throughout each phase, with the goal of steadily increasing strength and performance. Typical plans look something like this:
Phase 1: Hypertrophy, 3-5 x 8-12
Phase 2: Basic Strength, 4-6 x 4-6
Phase 3: Strength and Power, 3-5 x 1-5
Phase 4: Peaking or Maintenance, 1-3 x 1-3
Western periodization is a well-established and effective training model for those looking to improve strength, power, and muscle size.
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