The Preparatory Phase

Sup Team CSN members! As promised, here is the follow up to my last article on periodization. So to recap, what is periodization? Periodization is a concept that emerged out of the Sports Science labs of the former Soviet Union during the golden age of Soviet athletics. Strength and conditioning, while not a Russian concept, owes much of its current development to the strides that were made by the Soviet Union. They knew that their athletes needed to be ready to hit the ground running and be able to perform at a top level, uninhibited by injury, to take the gold. So, if gold was the end goal, they needed to plan the stages that were going to get their athletes there. They viewed the time period between the start of their training and the day of competition as a Macrocycle – the largest block of time. This Macrocycle was then broken down into a number of different Mesocycles, each with a specific goal in mind. Using this template of Macro and Mesocycles they were able to organise an entire year’s worth of programming into manageable blocks, with structured programming which would allow the athlete to train as optimally/maximally as they needed to without getting burned out. This general periodization model, as shown by Tudor Bompa, a Romanian Sports Scientist, consists of a Preparatory phase, a Competitive phase, and a Transition phase. These Phases would then be broken down into smaller Microcycles as illustrated in the sample-training plan below.

Sample training plan

As we can see the first stage of this program is the Preparatory phase or, Anatomical Adaption phase. This is the phase in which the total intensity of the training is lower, but the gross volume is higher. So what does this mean? Essentially it means that the primary focus is the get the athlete physically prepared for the arduous task of training for is or her specific sport. This is generally characterised as a period of time in which we focus on high volume repetitious exercises in order to increase not only muscle mass, but to increase overall work capacity and General physical preparedness (GPP). The GPP of an athlete is the base upon which the rest of the program is built and can be a make or break point for the rest of the program. As such the key is to focus on technique and full range of motion during any and all exercised undertaken. This will result in the most maximal amount of muscle recruitment while at the same time ensuring that the progressive overload the athlete will undergo over the course of the entire program will be done in the safest manner possible. Here is a sample rep range that would be typical of a Preparatory phase cycle:  

  Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
% / Reps 65% 4x10 70% 3x 10 70% 5x 8 75% 4x10 50% 3x10

  This high volume is applied across all the exercises in the program. The exercises themselves should be chosen in direct relation to their level of carryover to the athletes chosen sport. For example, a Shot-put athlete needs to have a high level of leg drive during their throw. For this reason squats and deadlifts are a good choice of exercise for this athlete, and for that matter any athlete. Needless to say, choose exercises that will give you a great athletic foundation upon which you can build the rest of your training.  Sprinters need strong legs, Wrestlers need strong backs, and Swimmers need strong shoulders. You get the picture! Next time we will be moving into the competitive phase of your training program and to that end we will be focusing on the transition into more traditional strength building rep ranges that sit around the 6-4-repetition range. As such, this is where things are going to get interesting. Here we are going to be developing the strength focus in the program that is going to lead to the development of the real sport specific strength that you will need for your sport. Have a go at structuring your program for the next few weeks on the rep ranges of the preparatory phase and see how you get on. Remember: this is a phase in which we are focusing on developing work capacity and muscle mass. As such; never go forward with any exercise unless you are comfortable with the technique and the weight that you are using. Also, remember that each percentage of your 1rm is going to be different for each person. Find a weight that you can complete all of the reps over the course of all the sets and stick to it, increasing the weight by 5% of that weight each week until the 5th week which is a de-load week and should be treated as active rest.   Let us know how you get on! Later Team CSN! Train Strong. Live Strong. Be Strong. Rogan Allport – Rebellion Strength Personal Training Website - Email –