Theory and Methodology of Training by Tudor O. Bompa : AdvancedFitness

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In an effort to become more educated on sport-specific programming, I’ve decided to read several books in regards to strength and hypertrophy.

So far I have read the following:

– Starting Strength and Practical Programming for Strength Training by Mark Rippetoe

– Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy by Brad Schoenfeld

– Scientific Principles of Strength Training and Scientific Principles of Hypertrophy Training by Dr. Mike Israetel.

Currently, I am reading Periodization Theory and Methodology of Training The Sixth Edition by Tudor O. Bompa. Currently, around half-way through the book and I wanted to discuss some of the concepts that I have learned in relation to some of the principles I have learned in the previous books.

Fundamentals of Periodization (Bompa):

Unlike the other books I have read, the most distinguishing factor seems to be that Bompa has a slightly different definition of Periodization. According to Bompa, periodization is a phase-based training in which each specific phase has a specific training goal in mind prior to and up to the competitive point.

He splits the annual training scheme into a preparatory phase, competitive phase, and a transition phase.

  • Preparatory phase can be further split into general preparatory and specific preparatory

    • In the general preparatory phase, multilateral sport development and anatomical adaption is focused. An overall work-capacity is developed through a variation of exercises that allow for a better kinesthetic sense.

    • In the specific preparatory phase, specificity starts to become a larger component of training and seeks to improve sport-specific abilities through either strength training, endurance training, or speed training.

  • Competitive phase can be further split into precompetitive and main competitive

    • In the precompetitive phase, the focus is even more specific in that the strength, endurance, or speed training that was done in the specific preparatory phase is converted directly into more sport-specific practices such as power, muscular endurance, agility, etc.

    • In the main competitive phase, the focus is maintenance of whatever is practiced in the precompetitive phase. As competition approaches, activity is reduced such that recovery (or cessation) can occur.

  • Transition phase is the point where active recovery can take place after competition in order to transition into another annual training scheme.

Returning to the point I made earlier regarding Bompa’s definition of periodization, he believes that the use of phrases like “block periodization”, “linear periodization”, “daily undulating periodization”, etc. is the incorrect application of the word “periodization”. The phrase “Block periodization” in which people focus a mesocycle on strength, hypertrophy, power, etc. is already incorporated into Bompa’s definition of “phase-based training”. Furthermore, he states that LP and DUP are simply different loading schemes. I guess Linear Loading Structure or Daily Undulating Loading Structure would be a better way to word it and help clarify some of the misconception regarding loading versus periodization.

I find this fascinating considering that most of the other books I have read so far seem to not make this distinction. In fact, I think that this distinction helps clarify some of the concepts of undulating “periodization”, Conjugate “periodization”, linear “periodization” . They are simply structured loading schemes rather than periodization. This may seem like picking at semantics, however, for someone like me, it helped me better conceptualize the importance of these various loading structures.

Lastly, I want to convert Bompa’s annual training scheme into something that I am more familiar with (as a powerlifting/bodybuilding enthusiast rather than competitor).

  • Preparatory Phase:

    • In the general preparatory phase, I feel that this would be most akin to getting a basic sense of your body and upping your work capacity. This can be through various sports, calisthenics, etc.

    • In the specific preparatory phase, I feel that this would be most similar to what we call novice programming. In regards to strength/hypertrophy training, it usually involves getting a basic sense of various movements and focusing on getting stronger and reaching “maximal” strength.

  • Competitive Phase:

    • Precompetitive phase would be similar to an intermediate program. I remember Rippetoe says that by the time an athlete reaches an intermediate status, they usually have sport-specific goals in mind. Similar to that, this individual could begin the transition into bodybuilding, powerlifting, weightlifting, cross-fit, etc.

    • By the point one reaches the competitive phase, periodization is most likely in place. Here, when doing phasic-training, maintenance of gains that were made during the precompetitive phase would be attempted to be maintained while practicing other aspects of training that would benefit the individual. For example, someone would place strength training in maintenance and prioritize hypertrophy training. Near the end of this phase, a deload would occur.

  • Transition Phase:

    • Here active recovery would be the goal. In regards to strength and hypertrophy training, this individual would start preparing for another precompetitive phase of strength training. Although Bompa hasn’t specifically stated this yet, I don’t think one would return to the general/specific preparatory phase unless they are moving to a completely new sport. I could be wrong here.

Please feel free to discuss my interpretation of the book so far. I would be particularly interested in hearing peoples’ thoughts on Bompa’s interpretation of periodization versus loading structure. Considering I am only halfway through the book, I am curious to see how my interpretations play out as he gets further into training methods.