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Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training

A closer look at the 6th edition of this classic sports science textbook

Let’s start by making something perfectly clear: Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training is a hardcore, scientific textbook about athletic fitness training. It’s not something you bring with you on a bus and scan through a few pages every morning – it’s meant to be studied, preferably in an environmentally-controlled, soundproof room. In the process, the pages should be highlighted, dog-eared, and covered with notes and Post-it notes.

This textbook is in its sixth edition and was written by Tudor Bompa and Carlo A. Buzzichelli. Bompa helped popularize periodization in North America and coached four Olympic gold medalists. Coach Charles Poliquin and Bompa lectured together in many coaching conferences.

Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training, 6th Edition was published by Human Kinetics in 2019. It is an expansion of Bompa’s Theory and Methodology of Training published by Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company in 1983. It’s massive at 392 pages but is much easier to understand than the 1983 version due to its layout and abundant use of photos, tables, and illustrations.

It has three major sections, progression from theory to practical application, as follows: Part I: Training Theory, Part II: Periodization Training, and Part III: Training Methods.

Here is the breakdown of the Chapters:

Part I: Training Theory
Chapter 1: The Basis for Training
Chapter 2: Principles of Training
Chapter 3: Preparation for Training
Chapter 4: Variables of Training

Part II: Planning and Periodization
Chapter 5: Periodization of Biomotor Abilities
Chapter 6: Planning the Training Session

Chapter 7: Planning the Training Cycles
Chapter 8: Periodization of the Annual Plan
Chapter 9: Peaking for Competition

Part III: Training Methods
Chapter 10: Strength and Power Development
Chapter 11: Endurance Training
Chapter 12: Speed and Agility Training

Of note to Poliquin fans, Chapter 4 uses a different approach than Poliquin in describing the major variations of training. Whereas Poliquin used loading parameters, Bompa approaches loading parameters in this manner:

* Volume
* Intensity
* Relationship between Volume and Intensity
* Frequency
* Complexity
* Index of Overall Demand
* Summary of Major Concepts

Thus, whereas Poliquin referred to reps and sets as separate loading parameters, Bompa would combine these into the collective term “volume.” For example, Bompa would describe training volume as “sets x reps x resistance.” In other words, Poliquin’s basic training concepts are available in Bompa’s work, but presented in a different manner.

Reaching the highest levels of physical performance requires careful organization of all training variables.

Bompa introduced his periodization model in the 60s, and Chapter 6 summarizes the unique components of this organizational system, such as his worksheets for creating an annual plan.

Bompa breaks down periodization into two components. First is the annual plan, which has three subcomponents: preparatory, competitive, and transition. These subcomponents are further broken down in the macrocycles and microcycles.

The second component is the periodization of strength, speed, and endurance (collectively known as motor abilities.). Each of these phases is further broken down into subphases. For example, the periodization of speed contains these phases: aerobic and anaerobic endurance; maximum speed and anaerobic endurance; specific speed; specific speed, agility, and reactive agility.

As it’s a textbook that focuses more on theory rather than actual workouts, Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training can be compared to Supertraining by Dr. Mel Siff and Professor Yuri Verkhoshansky. This means the reader has to “fill in the blanks” to design detailed workouts. However, if it’s workouts you want, Bompa has a book he co-authored with Carlo A. Buzzichelli that gives workouts with all the basic loading parameters. It’s called Periodization Training for Sports, which has a 4th edition published in March 2021. There is what could be considered a bodybuilding/body transformation book called Serious Strength Training, which has a 3rd edition published in 2013. It was co-authored by Mauro Di Pasquale (one of Poliquin’s favorite authors!) and Lorenzo Cornacchia.

If you’re a serious student of the Iron Game or a strength coach, and you’re up for a challenging read, Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training is for you! (TSS)

[Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training (6th Edition) is available through Amazon.com and Human Kinetics.com.]

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