Periodizing Strength Training
The ability to express high rate of force development (RFD) and power is often viewed as the most central quality to sport success (Suchomel, et al. 2018).
First and foremost, strength training should compliment endurance fitness, not compromise endurance fitness. So, this is the case where taking the time to plan out your training, endurance fitness, and strength training will be most beneficial in managing the training loads of both aspects of training. Working backwards from your A goal is most ideal. However, when planning out any strength training program, it's best to know your limitations beforehand. If your new to weight lifting, I highly recommend working with a professional.
Following a periodized training plan [for strength training] has been shown to produce greater benefits compared to non-periodized training (Suchomel, et al, 2018) for maximizing strength improvements. In more simple terms following a progressive group of exercises rather than random application of exercises is most ideal. However, unless you live in a vacuum, it's also important to recognize that staying strict to periodized plans is very difficult. Life often dictates how we can periodize. Having flexibility with the periodized plan you lay is key.
One example of periodized training plan that has shown to be effective for athletes that have multiple events per year is the block periodization strategy. Below is an example of a concurrent block periodization plan for endurance fitness and strength training.
Breaking down block periodization
In general, each phase of the block periodization lasts for 2-4 weeks and each phase focuses on specific and target abilities to ensure maximum adaptation.
Purpose of this phase is to build tolerance to strength training (work capacity)
Exercises are more general
Untrained athletes require more time in this phase
Typically a higher volume at 50-70% of 1 repetition maximum (RM) for each exercise
Exercises are more specific to the athletes primary goals
Work load of 75-90% of 1 RM
Accommodating resistance, like the use of chains or bands with squats, may be used to promote strength overload
Exercises become even more specific to the athletes primary goals
Work load of >90% 1 RM
Accommodating resistance such as bands or chains are not typically utilized in this phase
In some cases a reduction in volume and work load follows the realization phase to allow for improved recovery due to the high-intensities utilized during the realization phase
The difference between setting the phase of periodization and programming is the specifics of each week. Programming includes picking specific exercises, sets and reps.
Below is a general reps/sets scheme that may be helpful based on your current familiarity with strength training and your current baseline of strength.
Summary of Parts I & II
To set up the first phase of strength building, focusing on building muscle hypertrophy or cross sectional area first is most important, utilizing eccentric, bilateral, and variable resistance exercises will be most beneficial for producing muscle hypertrophy, and utilizing a block periodization plan to plan out your strength training will most likely produce the greatest strength benefits.
In the next blog post I will outline a sample block periodization plan for a triathlete that is new to strength training. As always, if you have any questions about strength training for endurance athletes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Foundation Physical Therapy and Endurance Coaching. Thank you so much for reading!
Suchomel, T. J., Nimphius, S., Bellon, C. R., & Stone, M. H. (2018). The Importance of Muscular Strength: Training Considerations. Sports Medicine,48(4), 765-785. doi:10.1007/s40279-018-0862-z
Johnson, C., Sattgast, J., Carlson, N., (2018). Running on Resistance.