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Is Periodization A Hoax?


I'm nearly convinced that periodization is a total hoax. Maybe not an intentional hoax mind you. But I'm pretty sure it's a crock. Lemme show you how I got there...

I'm a talk-radio addict. One of my pet shows is Coast To Coast A.M with George Noorey (formerly The Art Bell Show). The show is all about alien abductions, the paranormal, conspiracy theories, Area 51, bigfoot, chemtrails, and various other mythological subjects.

One topic that comes up from time to time is the so-called moon landing hoax. As it turns out, there are a number of people who insist that we never landed on the moon. The subscribers to this particular conspiracy theory assert that the whole thing was a hoax carried out in a Hollywood-style set.

That's about as kooky as it gets, right?

Except that some of these moon landing conspiracy kooks are amazingly articulate, logical, and convincing, given the obstacles they're up against (mainly, the obvious fact that we did land on the moon, and more than once at that).

(If you'd like to research this further click HERE for an excellent summary)

Which brings me to periodization, and specifically, the stated purpose of periodization, which is...


Now, I sure would love it if I could design a client's long-term training such that he or she would "peak" on the day of my choosing. I'd even love it if I could get the peak to occur within a 7-day window!

But forcasting your "peak" is probably like forcasting the weather- an exercise in futility. There are simply too many factors which cannot be controlled for. While you might be able to control volume, intensity, density, frequency, and a host of other training-related factors, you'd be hard pressed to eben monitor, let alone control, things like immune system challenges, nutritional intake, social stressors, injuries, financial worries, climatic changes, and all the other day-to-day issues that have very significant effects on performance capacity.

It's almost like trying to "control" your kids- you make every effort to teach your kids right and wrong, you make sure you're a great role model, you pick the best school for them, but unfortunately, you can't control a lot of other stuff that has a profound bearing on how your kids will ultimately turn out.

So if periodization is a hoax, what's the alternative? Well, if I didn't think periodization was a hoax, I'd do it like THIS. But I'll have more to say about the subject on an upcoming post, so stay tuned...


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  1. Mike on Aug 20, 2007 4:45:36 AM:

    I don't know, once you get past the glitz and marketing, it seems like there might be some (note some) legitimacy to to peaking. Peaking is really just pushing you athlete to the max without overtraining and allowing an ideal amount of recovery right before the main event. In the case of an athelete who doesn't have and event; pushing them into a slight overtraining phase and then backing off. Really peaking is nothing more than good coaching; pushing your athlete beyond his or her perceived maximum and knowing when to throttle them back.

  1. Andrew on Aug 27, 2007 10:48:47 AM:

    Re: Why Periodization Doesn't Work

    If in the Maximal Strength phase you do not reach your benchmark of +5% to your 1RM do you repeat the phase for up to 12 additional weeks?

    Why is phase 4, Speed Strength, only 1-2 weeks? If the benchmark was based on the power clean, for example, would you still expect to reach the benchmark in only 2 weeks?

    Thanks, best, A

  1. Albert Villanueva on Sep 20, 2007 3:35:15 AM:

    Right! Most breakthroughs I have in the gym was when I was not feeling well. I am more focused and more up to the challenge and feel more comfortable (meaning I am more loose in my expectations on myself - I have a built in alibi - I don't feel well). When I say I don't feel well, I mean I don't feel well! Migraine, haven't slept 6 hours for successive nights, colds even feverish. Gym time would be after office hours - 5:30 to 9 pm. There was an instance when I was on the last few reps on the last set of squats that I froze for about 3 seconds and steadied myself. While on my way up - just a few inches the starting position - everything went white. Afterwards, I rested and saw that my lips got the color of purple and red black spots appear on my eyebugs. Was explained to later that small capillaries might have exploded through the effort. I was squatting way past 500 pounds. A breakthrough. Talk about peaking concept. It's about discipline.

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