Training periodisation for your neurotransmitter profile by Christian Thibaudeau.
Periodization means dividing the training into periods, with each period having a specific purpose. This is a topic I cover in-depth in my ONLINE ‘Advanced Program Design’ certification with Clean Health Fitness Institute.
There are several types of periodization:
- Long-to-short Linear: this is the traditional way of periodizing, where you go from higher volume/lower intensity toward lower volume/higher intensity.
- Short-to-long linear: this is an approach that is common in short sprints and sometimes combat sports or any “short race” type events. Some people are even using it in Crossfit. It refers to starting the training macrocycle by using higher intensities/lower volumes of work or more precisely making this phase more qualitative than quantitative.
Then you build up the volume by decreasing intensity slightly. An example is training for the 100m sprint. To excel over 100 you need acceleration (0-30m), top speed (30-60m) and speed maintenance (60-100m). During the early qualitative phase, you would focus on building your take-off and acceleration while you also do lower intensity sprint technique work. As you progress in your training year you would focus more on top speed then speed maintenance.
The goal being to be able to maintain the most intensity possible while you are lengthening the duration of effort. In lifting, this would mean that after an initial structural balance phase you would train for strength then gradually work toward being able to tolerate more volume.
This is most effective with people with a lower tolerance for volume and for people in sports requiring a high level of force production over a fairly long (5-10 min) period of time. I like to use this approach with hockey players for example.
- Undulating: in this approach, you alternate between phases of quantitative (higher volume/lower intensity/lower complexity) and qualitative (higher intensity/lower volume/higher complexity) training. Normally 4-6 weeks per phase with a general trend toward increasing intensity over time.
For example if you have 6 phases lasting 4 weeks each the average intensity level could be: phase 1: 60-65% / phase 2: 80-85% / phase 3: 65-70% / phase 4: 85-90% / phase 5: 70-75% / phase 6: 90-95%. I like this approach with someone who simply wants to get bigger and stronger without having to peak for a certain event or season.
- Conjugate: those who know the Westside Barbell Club know what conjugate training is, but Westside is only one application. Conjugate is also called “concurrent” periodization and it means training several physical capacities in every training cycle.
For example, in the Westside system, you have 2 days per week where you focus on maximal strength and 2 days where you focus on power (speed-strength). Of course, you can select other physical qualities like resistance, endurance, reactive, etc. While some people like to train more than one physical capacities in a workout, I prefer to avoid combining two neurologically-demanding methods on the same day.
For example, most of the time, I prefer to train strength on its own day and power or speed/agility in its own workout. Hypertrophy work and energy systems work that are lower on the neurological scale of demands can be trained along with the main neurological method though.
- Block: here each phase is it’s own “world”. It can be similar to the linear method as each block tends to increase in intensity and decrease in volume, but not always. Here we have three types of blocks “accumulation” (more volume/less intensity), “intensification” (higher intensity/lower volume) and “realization”.
The main difference between the block periodization and the linear model is that realization phase. It should be structured to be as specific as possible to the activity you are training for. The realization phase for a 100m sprinter, a powerlifter or a bodybuilder will be dramatically different even though the previous 3 blocks can be fairly similar. The sprinter would include more explosive work, the powerlifter would focus almost exclusively on lifting heavy on the competition lifts (higher frequency) and the bodybuilder would have more high-density work.
The neurotype of a client can indeed influence the best model. Especially if the client is only training to get bigger, leaner and stronger and not training for a specific sport.
- Type 1A will do better on a short-to-long linear periodization model
- Type 1B on either a block or conjugate periodization
- Type 2A on block, conjugate or undulating
- Type 2B on undulating or long-to-short linear
- Type 3 on long-to-short linear
Want to learn more? You can in Christian Thibaudeau’s ‘Advanced Program Design’ ONLINE course! Officially launching on October 17th, this course will cover:
- Understand Neurotyping
- Assess & evaluate neurotype profiles
- Create tailored training and nutritional plans
- Get access to Christian Thibaudeau’s training methods and exercise selection
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Yours in health,
on behalf of Clean Health Fitness Institute