Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Periodization and Responses to Training Stress

Originally introduced by Russian physiologist Leo Matveyev, periodization is a concept to help prevent individuals from experiencing slower results, plateauing results, or even reversing results which can lead to injury. Periodization has recently been publicized quite a lot with the term "muscle confusion".

Strength and conditioning programs can bring about significant strength gains, but adaptations to any program is inevitable, so periodization is the concept used to help design and schedule a program that will continue to elicit physical growth and changes.

Canadian endocrinologist Hans Selye has since attempted to explain the benefits of periodization by using the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) which can be seen below.

When the body experiences a new stress, or a stress that is greater than what is previously experienced, the body enters an alarm or shock phase. During this phase, which may last as long as a few days to a few weeks, the muscles will become tender and sore and the individual will even experience a drop in performance.

During the next phase, also known as the resistance phase, the body begins the process of recovery and repair. During the stress or alarm phase, the body is broken down and therefore must be repaired, that is where the resistance phase comes in. The body recognizes that the stress that was placed on the body needs to be reversed, and then some, so it rebuilds its tissues to be stronger than it was before. This is known as "supercompensation".

If, however, the same stresses are placed on the body for an extended period of time, an exhaustion phase could be reached. This is where the individual may see a return of some of the symptoms experienced in the alarm phase; soreness, fatigue, etc. There is also the potential for staleness, overtraining, and other maladaptations to occur. Not only can a stale exercise program cause overtraining but lack of sleep, poor diet, and excess mental stress can also lead to these conditions.

-Tyler Robbins