Linear Periodization

In novice to moderately training athletes and lifters, a Linear Periodization program is commonly used to develop a strong base. The Linear Periodization program is a planned workout cycle with four main stages. These stages are completed in a given order to build on top on one another, creating the best results for the trainee. The stages of the program include a hypertrophy, strength, power, and restorative phase. These four stages may be thought of more simply as increasing muscular size, developing strength for the new size, developing functional power for the size and strength, and finally allowing the body to adapt to the previous stages.

The linear training program is broken down into three cycle components; the micro, meso and macrocycle. The microcycle is the training that is planned from week to week using the reps, sets and the basic exercises that are planned throughout. The mesocycle has a main goal such as strength or power, and the sets, reps, rest and exercises are determined to reflect the goal of each phase. The macrocycle is the entire cycle from the muscle building phase all the way through the power phase. Note, that not all linear periodization cycles will include a power phase. The power phase is most generally used in an athletic sense where sport specific exercises are used to create the explosiveness mirrored on the field.

The hypertrophy phase's main goal is to increase the muscle fiber size. This mesocycle consists of high volume and low to moderate intensity. The rep range usually falls in the 8-12 range, while the rest periods are shorter to tax the work capacity of the lower motor units. The lower intensity allows one to be able to increase Time Under Tension for the worked muscle fibers, which ultimately increase cell volume through protein synthesis etc. The overall increase in muscle size can increase the force capacities of the muscle which then leads to the next phase.

The next phase is the strength phase. The strength phase is lower in volume but higher in intensity. The set range is relatively the same as hypertrophy, though may increase for the more advanced individual. However, the reps per set will decrease to allow a higher force production and recruitment of higher level motor units. Reps in the strength phase usually range between 4-8, and the rest periods are extended to allow recovery of ATP stores in the muscle. If the rest is not long enough for the energy pools to restore in the fibers then maximal force cannot be used in the muscle. The strength phase will "mature" the newly enlarged muscle fibers from the hypertrophy phase.

The next phase and the last enhancement is the power phase. The power phase increases the power developed by the muscle. This mesocycle is low in volume but very high in intensity. The reps usually stay between 3-5 and the actual power weight is 30-40% of 1RM. Higher weights can be used during this cycle to increase 1RM of the power lifts; however, peak mechanical power of the body occurs using weights in the 30-40% 1RM range. Advanced lifters and athletes may have an increase in percentage for peak mechanical power closer to 50-60% but will occur primarily in highly trained individuals. Therefore, days of both heavier and lighter weight must be used, but in each day the goal is to explosively move the weight. The power stage generally consists of exercises that will more closely mimic actions of the field of play, or desired sport. It is also often referred to the sports specific part of the cycle.

The last phase of the macrocylce is the restorative phase. During this phase the volume and intensity is moderate and fluctuates to incorporate the previous three cycles. This stage allows the muscles to rest and mature, allowing them to adapt to their new requirements.