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A C OMPARISON OF T RADITIONAL AND WEEKLY UNDULATING P ERIODIZED S TRENGTH T RAINING PROGRAMS W ITH T OTAL V OLUME AND I NTENSITY E QUATED

J YTTE M. A PEL , 1 R YAN M. L ACEY , 2 AND R OBERT T. K ELL 1

1 Augustana Faculty, Department of Social Sciences, University of Alberta, Augustana Campus, Camrose, Alberta T4V 2R3, Canada; and 2 Results Training & Fitness, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

ABSTRACT

Apel, JM, Lacy, RM, and Kell, RT. A comparison of traditional and weekly undulating periodized strength training programs with total volume and intensity equated. J Strength Cond Res 24(x): 000–000, 2010—The purpose of this study was to compare the training adaptations attained during 12 weeks of traditional (TD) and weekly undulating (WUD) periodized strength training. Forty-two recreationally active men (age = 22 6 2.3 years) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups:

control (C) (n = 14), TD (n = 14), or WUD (n = 14). Ten- repetition maximum (10RM) laboratory testing was carried out for the free weight back squat and the free weight flat bench press at baseline, week 8, and week 12. The subjects trained 3 d wk 2 1 (approximately 135 min wk 2 1 ) from weeks 1 to 2 and 4 d wk 2 1 from week 3 to week 12 (approximately 180 min wk 2 1 ). The TD and WUD groups trained using a periodized strength program with all program variables controlled (e.g., volume and intensity). The independent variable was the mani- pulation of intensity. The TD group used a linear increase in intensity, whereas the WUD group had a varied intensity. The results showed that both the TD and WUD groups made significant (p # 0.05) increases in strength at weeks 8 and 12, but by week 12, the TD group was significantly (p # 0.05) stronger than the WUD group. These results indicate that TD periodization with a linear increase in intensity was more effective at eliciting strength gains than WUD periodization with a varied intensity. The differences in strength gains between the TD and WUD groups may be related to extended periods of muscle soreness and fatigue that were present in the WUD group but not in the TD group. Thus, during long-term training, individuals may benefit more from TD periodized programs

Address correspondence to Dr. Robert Kell, rob.kell@ualberta.ca.

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because there may be less muscle soreness and fatigue to disrupt practice and training.

K EY WORDS weight training, linear, progressive resistance

I NTRODUCTION

C urrently, no consensus exists as to the ideal

strength training program design, but it typically

involves resistance training exercises, which in-

clude free weight and machine exercises, and it

is widely accepted that some form of periodization is most effective (3,4,9,12,17). Periodization is a training scheme where planned variations in training variables (e.g., number of sets and repetitions, exercise order, load, and rest) are manipulated in a manner that increases the ability of a person to achieve specific performance goals (e.g., strength) (4,12,13,16). It is based on the overload principle and attempts to maximize the use of physical stress and recovery time by manipulating volume and intensity to facilitate important neuromuscular adaptations (10,13). Our study compares 2 primary models of periodization: (a) traditional (TD) per- iodization and (b) weekly undulating (WUD) periodization. Traditional periodization (also known as linear periodiza-

tion) is divided into 3 cycles. Generally, within each cycle, there is a large initial training volume at a moderate intensity progressing to an increase in intensity and a decrease in volume (10,13,19). In contrast, undulating periodization relies more on irregular manipulation of volume and intensity across the training cycle. This type of training has short periods of high-volume training alternated with short periods of high-intensity training, all potentially within 1 week

(2,7,13).

Studies have compared periodized and nonperiodized training programs, and this research has been reviewed by Rhea and Alderman (12). However, fewer studies have directly compared TD periodization with WUD periodiza- tion. Currently, there is debate as to which form of periodization (TD or WUD) yields greater strength gains. Rhea et al. (13) compared TD with daily undulating

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periodization over 12 weeks. They found that daily undulat- ing periodization elicited a greater percentage of strength gains. This result was attributed to the more severe altera- tions between volume and intensity in the daily undulating program. A study by Buford et al. (3) compared TD period- ization, daily undulating periodization, and WUD periodi- zation. No differences in percent strength gain were noted among the training regimes after 9 weeks of training. Finally, Hoffman et al. (7) compared nonperiodized training, TD periodization, and undulating periodization over 15 weeks. The study by Hoffman et al. (7) was one of the first to use a training frequency of 4 d wk 2 1 rather than 3 d wk 2 1 . Additionally, this study also used highly trained college football athletes as participants and found no significant difference in strength gains among groups. The purpose of this study was to compare the training adaptations after 12 weeks of TD and WUD periodized strength training, thus adding to the work of Baker et al. (2), Rhea et al. (13), Buford et al. (3), and Hoffman et al. (7). Our study used a strength training frequency of 4 d wk 2 1 to provide more information regarding ‘‘real world’’ training schedules used by moderately to highly trained athletes. In contrast to the study by Hoffman et al. (7), our study employed recreationally strength-trained men. This led to larger and more significant differences between the groups because the principle of diminishing return states that less trained individuals will yield larger physiological gains after shorter periods of training (6). Our hypothesis was that with all training variables being equal, except the order of intensity, the TD periodized weight training group would demonstrate significantly ( p # 0.05) larger strength gains than the WUD periodization group.

METHODS

Experimental Approach to the Problem

The purpose of the study was to compare TD periodized strength training (linear increase in intensity) with that of WUD periodized strength training (varied intensity) in men with previous strength training experience (17). Strength training took the form of both free weight and machine- loaded exercise movements (e.g., barbell bench press). This study operationally defined training volume as the total number of repetitions performed, whereas training intensity was the amount (load in kg) lifted or repetition maximum (RM) load used to perform a certain number of repetitions (4). The TD and WUD groups were equated on all training variables (e.g., sets, repetitions, and rest time), except order of intensity. More specifically, any variation in training effect (i.e., change in strength) associated with TD and WUD programs would be attributable to the schedule of intensity and not to other training variables. Also, to date, Hoffman et al. (7) applied a 4 d wk 2 1 periodized training regimen to high-performance athletes, whereas Buford et al. (3) and Rhea et al. (13) applied a 3 d wk 2 1 periodized resistance training regimen to detrained and resistance-trained (at least

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12 months of weight training experience) subjects, re- spectively. The current study added to the research of Rhea

et al. (13), Buford et al. (3), and Hoffman et al. (7) by employing a training frequency of 4 d wk 2 1 , similar to that of Hoffman et al. (7) but used subjects with a training status

($

6-month weightlifting experience), which is between that

of

Rhea et al. (13) (12-month weightlifting experience) and

Buford et al. (3) (detrained). The objective was to determine which model of periodization was most effective at improving strength in moderately active men with approx- imately 6 months of weight training experience.

Subjects

Forty-two healthy recreationally active men were recruited from the university setting via an informational lecture to classes and advertisements. The investigation was approved through the Research Ethics Board University of the University of Regina for use of human subjects. Before the start of the study, subjects received a group orientation

consisting of a presentation outlining the reasons and goals of the study. The subjects were informed of the possible risks and benefits of periodized strength training and were given the opportunity to ask questions. After the presenta- tion, subjects read the study information letter; completed

a health screening form, the Physical Activity Readiness

Questionnaire; and signed an informed consent form. Thus, all subjects gave their free and signed informed consent. Potential subjects were excluded from participation if they had a known history of metabolic, cardiovascular, or respira- tory disorders. On exiting the study, the subjects’ results were explained to them individually. Also, at the conclusion of the 12-week study, the control (C) group was offered a 12-week TD training program so that they could experience the benefits of periodized training. All subjects had previous weightlifting experience ($6 months [range 6–11 months]) using free weight and machine resistance before the start of the study but had never been involved in formalized periodized strength training of any

type (e.g., TD or undulating). After baseline testing, the subjects ( n = 42) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: (a)

C ( n = 14): age = 22 6 2.3 years, standing height = 1.77 6

0.05 m, body mass = 75.7 6 7.1 kg, and percent body fat = 18.3 6 4.2%; (b) TD (n = 14): age = 23 6 2.8 years, standing

height = 1.78 6 0.06 m, body mass = 77.0 6 7.9 kg, and percent body fat = 17.1 6 4.5%; and (c) WUD ( n = 14): age = 22 6 1.9 years, height = 1.77 6 0.06 m, body mass = 81.8 6 9.7 kg, and percent body fat = 20.2 6 6.1%. No significant

(p # 0.05) differences in the physical characteristics were

noted among the groups at baseline. Also, there were no significant ( p # 0.05) changes in body composition (i.e., body mass or percent body fat) found in any of the groups across time (baseline, week 8, and week 12). Five subjects withdrew from the study before completion (12 weeks); their data were excluded. The subjects assigned to the C group were allowed

to maintain their current recreational activity (e.g., floor

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hockey). The WUD and TD groups were asked not to participate in any form of prolonged ($20 minutes) aerobic activity (i.e., cross-country skiing or running) (11). However, the TD and WUD groups were encouraged to warm-up with 15 minutes of aerobic activity (i.e., gym cardio-equipment) before starting their strength training sessions. This was used to reduce the risk of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and injury.

Procedures

General. The study consisted of 12 weeks of periodized strength training via the use of both free weight and machine resistance exercises. Figure shows an overview of the study timeline. Instructions outlining proper and safe exercise tech- nique (and illustrations) for all exercises were provided before testing and training. The sequence of exercises was main- tained throughout the study, with the first (e.g., Monday) and third (e.g., Thursday) training sessions of each week focusing on chest, back, triceps, and abdominal muscle groups, and the second (e.g., Tuesday) and fourth (e.g., Friday) training sessions focusing on leg, shoulder, biceps, and abdominal muscle groups (Table 1). All laboratory testing sessions were supervised and conducted by the same researchers.

Testing Sessions. There were 2 forms of testing: (a) laboratory testing (supervised), which took place in the Exercise Physiology Laboratory, University of Regina, at baseline, week 8, and week 12 and (b) field testing (unsupervised), which took place in the Fitness and Lifestyle Centre of the

University of Regina at baseline, week 4, week 8, and week 12. The Fitness and Lifestyle Centre is where the TD and WUD subjects performed their workouts throughout the study. During strength training, strength gains made before week 8 are believed to be chiefly neurological (2,4). For this reason, our laboratory testing took place at baseline, week 8, and week 12 to use data that reflected a combination of both neuromuscular (2) and contractile protein remodeling (hypertrophy) strength changes (15). The field testing sessions were used to determine the loads (kg) for the subjects’ strength training programs throughout the 12 weeks. The initial load for each exercise (Table 1) was determined at baseline, and then, in subsequent weeks (weeks 4 and 8), the load was manipulated according to the subjects’ 10RM field testing results. This established new loads for the exercises, which enabled the subjects’ bodies in the TD and WUD groups to be progressively overloaded throughout the 12 weeks. Of note, no RM testing was conducted on abdominal exercises. The abdominal and Swiss ball crunch exercises initially used body weight as the load; once the subjects could complete 30 consecutive crunches, the subjects were free to add an external load by holding a free weight on their chest. In weeks when laboratory and field testings occurred simultaneously (baseline, week 8, and week 12), supervised laboratory testing was completed 2 days before unsupervised field testing. The subjects received their updated strength training programs on Sunday, 1–2 days before starting their next strength training session.

T ABLE 1. Exercise specifics.*

 

Exercise

Equipment

Category

3 d wk 2 1

4 d wk 2 1

Percent 1RM

Rest time

Flat bench press Incline bench press Flat bench DB fly Back squat Lat pull-down front Cable machine row DB shoulder press Upright cable row Leg extension Leg curl Triceps push-down Seated DB arm curl Standing calf raise Abdominal crunches Swiss ball crunches

Free weight

Primary

1

1, 3

55–90

2

Free weight

Primary

NA

1, 3

55–90

2

Free weight

Assistance

NA

1, 3

55–77

1

Free weight

Primary

2

2, 4

55–90

2

Machine

Assistance

3

1, 3

55–85

1

Machine

Assistance

NA

1, 3

55–85

1

Free weight

Assistance

4

2, 4

55–85

1

Machine

Assistance

NA

2, 4

55–85

1

Machine

Assistance

5

2, 4

55–77

1

Machine

Assistance

6

2, 4

55–77

1

Machine

Assistance

7

1, 3

55–77

1

Free weight

Assistance

8

2, 4

55–77

1

Body weight

Assistance

9

2, 4

55–77

1

Body weight

Core

10

1–4

NA

1

Body weight

Core

11

1–4

NA

1

*Equipment = the type of exercise equipment used for each exercise; Primary = the primary muscle recruited for each exercise movement; 1RM = 1 repetition maximum; DB = dumbbell; Category = exercise classification: primary (multijoint or large muscle mass), assistance (single joint or small muscle mass), or core (abdominal exercises); 3 d wk 2 1 = a 3 day per week strength training schedule, with the numbers indicating the order the exercises were performed in; 4 d wk 2 1 = a 4 day per week strength training schedule; Rest = rest time in minutes; ni = indicates the exercise was not included during the 3 day per week training schedule; NA = not applicable.

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The laboratory testing sessions were supervised and used the same test order, equipment, warm-up, and standardized time (between 6:00 and 9:30 PM). Anthropometric and body composition measures included standing height, body mass, and percent body fat. Standing height was measured in meters using a wall mounted Stadiometer (Stadiometer.com, Snoqualmie, WA, USA). Body mass and composition were measured using the Tanita TBF-300 (Tanita Corp., Arlingthon Heights, IL, USA) (bioelectric impedance) body composition scale to the nearest 0.1 kg and 1% body fat. After the body composition measurements, the subjects warmed up for 10 minutes on a Monark cycle ergometer (HealthCare Int., Seattle, WA, USA) and then proceeded to the other tests (i.e., back squat and bench press). The laboratory tests consisted of 10RMs on the following exercises: (a) free weight back squat to parallel using an Olympic bar and weights and (b) free weight flat bench press using an Olympic bar and weights. Each 10RM was determined within 4 sets, with a 3- to 4-minute rest time between all sets and tests (1). The researcher provided encouragement to all subjects during the laboratory testing, in an attempt to elicit a maximal effort. The first test was the free weight back squat to parallel, to determine lower body strength. The subjects were taught to perform the squat in a slow and controlled manner. Subjects maintained a flat back, high elbows, and chest in the up and out position. The bar was placed at the base of the neck resting on the trapezius muscle and hands gripped the bar in a closed overhand grip. Heels were in contact with the floor at all times, and knees were aligned over the feet throughout the movement. Subjects moved downward until their thighs were parallel to the floor and then pushed back up into a standing position, which would be considered 1 repetition. The second test was the free weight flat bench press, to determine upper body strength. The subjects were positioned supine on the bench. The subjects grasped the bar with hands approximately shoulder-width apart (or slightly wider) and extended arms at the elbow removing the bar from the supports. One repetition occurred when the bar was lowered (under control) to the chest and then in a smooth motion pushed back to the starting position by extending the elbows.

Training Programs. The duration of the study was 12 weeks (Figure), with the specific exercises, rest time, d wk 2 1 , intensity (percent 1RM), repetitions set 2 1 , sets exercise 2 1 ,

and weekly duration of training all listed in Tables 1–3. Training weeks were 1–3, 5–7, and 9–11, with testing occurring on weeks 4, 8, and 12 (as discussed previously). Note that the program variables (e.g., rest time, exercises, total volume, and total intensity) were the same for both the TD and WUD groups. Both groups were exposed to the same number of heavy workouts in each training phase, but order of the heavy workouts was different (Table 2). The difference between the TD and WUD training groups is the weekly change (variation) in training intensity (percent 1RM), with the exception being the initial 3 weeks of training, which were the same for both groups. The initial 3 weeks (phase 1) of both the TD and WUD periodized programs were identical and used as an anatomical adaptation and familiarization phase, with intensity and volume being moderate. The third week was marked by a small increase in intensity and a larger increase in training time (approximately 175 min wk 2 1 ). Phase 2 included weeks 5–7 and 9–11 and was considered the strength phase with intensity ranging between 73 and 90% of 1RM and training time ranging between 165 and 195 min wk 2 1 . It is in this strength phase that the TD and WUD programs varied in the order (or schedule) of weekly intensity, but the average volume and intensity were equivalent between the TD and WUD groups (Table 2). The TD periodized program used a gradual linear increase in intensity from weeks 5 to 8 followed by testing in week 8 and then a gradual increase in intensity from weeks 9 to 11, and testing in week 12 (Table 2). In contrast, the WUD periodized program used a fixed sequence that was applied to all WUD subjects (Table 2). Weeks 5 and 9 contained the greatest average intensity (79 and 80% 1RM, respectively) with the lowest average intensity found in weeks 6 and 11 (73 and 75% 1RM, respectively) and the moderate average intensity found in weeks 7 and 11 (76 and 78% 1RM, respectively). Also, neither the TD nor WUD periodized program altered the training intensity within the week (e.g., Monday 80% and Tuesday 75%); the change in intensity was made from week to week (Table 2). For example, in week 5, the average training intensity for each TD training group workout was 73% 1RM, whereas the average training intensity for the WUD training group workout was 79% 1RM (Table 2). In week 6, the average training intensity for each TD training group workout was 76% 1RM, whereas the

Figure. Study timeline. The study began with a briefing session and completion of the necessary
Figure. Study timeline. The study began with a briefing session and completion of the necessary
Figure. Study timeline. The study began with a briefing session and completion of the necessary
Figure. Study timeline. The study began with a briefing session and completion of the necessary
Figure. Study timeline. The study began with a briefing session and completion of the necessary
Figure. Study timeline. The study began with a briefing session and completion of the necessary
Figure. Study timeline. The study began with a briefing session and completion of the necessary
Figure. Study timeline. The study began with a briefing session and completion of the necessary

Figure. Study timeline. The study began with a briefing session and completion of the necessary paper work (e.g., signed informed consent). Baseline laboratory testing and randomization of subjects into groups (traditional [TD], n = 14; undulating [UD], n = 14; and control [C], n = 14) followed. Training programs were designed and provided to both training groups after baseline laboratory and field testings. Subsequent laboratory testing (body composition, bench press, and back squat) occurred at weeks 8 and 12, whereas field testing (all other strength program exercises) took place at baseline and weeks 4, 8, and 12. The study ended with a debriefing session in which the subjects were informed of their individual results and were able to ask questions.

with a debriefing session in which the subjects were informed of their individual results and were
with a debriefing session in which the subjects were informed of their individual results and were
with a debriefing session in which the subjects were informed of their individual results and were
with a debriefing session in which the subjects were informed of their individual results and were
with a debriefing session in which the subjects were informed of their individual results and were
with a debriefing session in which the subjects were informed of their individual results and were

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T ABLE 2. Average training values for the traditional and undulating periodized training programs.*

 
 

Phase 1

Phase 2

 

Phase 3

 

Training programs

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Average

Traditional periodized d wk 2 1 Intensity (percent 1RM) Duration (min wk 2 1 )

3344444

4

4

57

57

62

73

76

79

75

78

80

70.7

; 135

; 135

; 175

; 168

; 180

; 195

; 168

; 180

; 195

170.1

Weekly undulating periodization d wk

2 1

3344444

4

4

Intensity (percent 1RM) 57

57

62

79

73

76

80

75

78

70.7

Duration (min wk 2 1 )

; 135

; 135

; 175

; 195

; 168

; 180

; 195

; 168

; 180

170.1

*d wk 2 1 = the number of training days per week; ; = approximately; Intensity = the average intensity assessed in percent of 1 repetition maximum (RM) for each week; Duration = the approximate total workout time each resistance training session; Average = the average intensity and duration for the traditional and weekly undulating groups over the course of the study.

average training intensity for the WUD training group workout was 73% 1RM. Thus, the TD program used a linear increase in intensity from week to week, whereas the WUD program used a nonlinear format. Strength training was 3 d wk 2 1 (i.e., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) in weeks 1 and 2 and 4 d wk 2 1 in weeks 3 to 11. The exercise order for the 3 d wk 2 1 program is outlined in Table 1. At baseline, all exercises associated with the 3 d wk 2 1 program were tested in the laboratory (back squat and bench press) and field (all other exercises). The 4 d wk 2 1 program was a split routine, which exercised the chest, back, triceps, and abdominal muscles 2 d wk 2 1 (e.g., day 1 and day 3) and legs, shoulders, biceps, and abdominal muscles 2 d wk 2 1 (e.g., day 2 and day 4). The exercise order for the split routine was as follows—days 1 and 3: flat bench press, incline bench press, flat bench dumbbell (DB) fly, lat pull-down front, cable machine row, triceps pushdown, abdominal crunches, and Swiss ball crunches; and days 2 and 4: back squat, leg extension, leg curl, standing calf raises, upright cable row, DB shoulder press, seated DB arm curl, abdominal crunches, and Swiss ball crunches. Note, in week 3, the 4 d wk 2 1 split- routine program began, and 4 new exercises (e.g., incline bench press) were added to the program (Table 1). The subjects tested (unsupervised) on these new exercises in the third week, and the exercises were added to their routines. While completing the 4 d wk 2 1 routine, the subjects followed 1 of 2 possible training schedules: (a) Monday (day 1), Tuesday (day 2), Thursday (day 3), and Friday (day 4) or (b) Tuesday (day 1), Wednesday (day 2), Friday (day 3), and Saturday (day 4). The strength training program for both groups is shown in Table 3, with an example of a week 1 workout session presented in Table 4. Once the subjects selected a training schedule to follow, they were not allowed to change the schedule until the study was complete. The approximate weekly duration of the strength training

sessions is listed in Table 2. The primary exercises were exercises that activated a larger muscle mass (multijoint). Assistance exercises activated a smaller muscle mass (single

joint). Core area exercises focused on the abdominal region. The strength training sessions were carried out at the Fitness and Lifestyle Centre of the University of Regina, where 2 staff members were on the workout floor at all times, and were familiarized with the research study exercises. All strength training exercises were performed using smooth and controlled concentric and eccentric muscle actions. In each strength training session, the subjects completed

a specific number of repetitions and sets depending on the

intensity for that workout session (Table 2). Thus, the load and the number of repetitions and sets for each exercise

were dictated to the subjects throughout the study. Rest time between sets and exercises was dependent on the type of exercise (Table 1). The resistance machines used were products of Atlantis Strength Equipment (Laval, Quebec, Canada), which allowed for full range of motion and pin adjustment of the load.

Statistical Analyses

All values were reported as mean 6 SD and percent change. The variables of interest were back squat, flat bench, leg extension, lat pull-down, and DB shoulder press. The

between-group (TD, WUD, and C) comparison and within- group (across time: baseline, week 8, and week 12) compari- son were made via a general linear model repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). When a significant F ratio was achieved, post hoc comparisons were completed using

a Fisher’s least significant difference. Statistical power was

determined as ranging from 0.77 to 0.82 for the sample size used with the outcome measures in this study. All differences were considered significant at an alpha of 0.05 ( p # 0.05). Where appropriate, percent change was calculated as

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T ABLE 3. Traditional and weekly undulating periodized training programs.*

 
 

Weeks 1–2

Week 3

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Exercise

Repetitions set 2 1 Repetitions set 2 1 Repetitions set 2 1 Repetitions set 2 1 Repetitions set 2 1 Repetitions set 2 1 Repetitions set 2 1 Repetition set 2 1

TD Flat bench press Incline bench press Flat bench DB fly Back squat Lat pull-down front Cable machine row DB shoulder press Upright cable row Leg extension Leg curl Triceps push-down Seated DB arm curl Standing calf raise WUD Flat bench press Incline bench press Flat bench DB fly Back squat Lat pull-down front Cable machine row DB shoulder press Upright cable row Leg extension Leg curl Triceps push-down Seated DB arm curl Standing calf raise

10–12 3 4 10–12 3 4 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 4 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3

6–10 3 5 6–10 3 5 8–10 3 4 6–10 3 5 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4

6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2

4–10 3 5 4–10 3 5 6–10 3 3 4–10 3 5 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3

4–10 3 6 4–10 3 6 6–10 3 4 4–10 3 6 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4

4–10 3 4 4–10 3 4 6–10 3 2 4–10 3 4 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2

4–10 3 5 4–10 3 5 6–10 3 3 4–10 3 5 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3

4–10 3 6 4–10 3 6 6–10 3 4 4–10 3 6 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4

10–12 3 4 10–12 3 4 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 4 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3 10–12 3 3

6–10 3 5 6–10 3 5 8–10 3 4 6–10 3 5 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4 8–10 3 4

4–10 3 6 4–10 3 6 6–10 3 4 4–10 3 6 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4

6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2

4–10 3 5 4–10 3 5 6–10 3 3 4–10 3 5 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3

4–10 3 6 4–10 3 6 6–10 3 4 4–10 3 6 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4 6–10 3 4

4–10 3 4 4–10 3 4 6–10 3 2 4–10 3 4 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2 6–10 3 2

4–10 3 5 4–10 3 5 6–10 3 3 4–10 3 5 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3

*DB = dumbbell.

3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3 3 6–10 3

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T ABLE 4. An example of a week 1 Monday workout session with fictitious loads.*

 
 

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

Exercises

Repetitions

Load

Repetitions

Load

Repetitions

Load

Flat bench press Back squat Lat pull-down front DB shoulder press Leg extension Leg curl Triceps push-down Seated DB arm curl Standing calf raise Abdominal crunches Swiss ball crunches

12

27

12

34

10

36

12

59

12

70

10

77

12

32

10

39

10

39

12

12

10

14

10

14

12

57

10

68

10

68

12

36

10

43

10

43

12

30

10

36

10

36

12

7

10

9

10

9

12

89

10

107

10

107

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

*Abdominal crunch and Swiss ball crunch exercises were not part of testing; the overload was progressed gradually at the discretion of each subject. The load used in this example training program is fictitious. Repetitions = repetitions to be completed on each exercises in each set; Load = the amount of weight, in kg, for each exercise in each set; DB = dumbel; NA = not applicable.

follows: (posttest mean 2 pretest mean)/(pretest mean) 3 100. A Levene’s test for homogeneity of variances was used on each dependent variable during the ANOVA, and

homogeneity of variance was found. Intraclass correlations (ICCs) between baseline and week 12 were conducted on the C group data to determine test-retest reliability (18).

T ABLE 5. Changes in muscular strength.*

Baseline (mean 6 SD )

Week 8 (mean 6 SD)

Week 12 (mean 6 SD)

Back squat (kg)

TD

79.5 (15.0)

108.8 (17.3) 99.9 (18.9) Nt

122.1 (15.6) § k 109.4 (16.7) 78.2 (24.3)

WUD

81.8 (19.0)

C

75.0 (25.9)

Flat bench press (kg)

TD

66.1 (11.1)

74.6 (10.9) 70.3 (11.6) Nt

81.9 (10.7) § k 73.8 (11.1)

WUD

62.2 (12.3)

C

61.4 (15.5)

33.33

Leg extension (kg)

TD

55.7 (15.9)

71.9 (16.2) 71.3 (15.1) Nt

77.6 (14.7) 75.6 (14.1) 64.6 (13.2)

WUD

59.5 (14.3)

C

61.6 (12.3)

Lat pull-down (kg)

TD

60.0 (9.7)

69.9 (8.8) 63.1 (9.1) Nt

77.3 (8.6) § k 67.1 (8.9) 63.5 (8.7)

WUD

56.2 (9.5)

C

61.6 (8.9)

DB shoulder press (kg)

TD

17.0 (5.4)

20.9 (4.5) 19.8 (4.7) Nt

25.1 (4.7) § 22.5 (4.5) 17.2 (4.9)

WUD

16.5 (5.2)

C

15.4 (4.5)

*TD = traditional periodized training group ( n = 14); WUD = weekly undulating periodized training group ( n = 14); C = control group ( n = 14); Nt = no test was completed at that time point; DB = dumbbell. The TD and WUD periodized training groups were significantly ( p # 0.05) stronger than the C group at week 12 on all strength tests except lat pull-down. Indicates a significant ( p # 0.05) increase in strength within group from baseline to week 8. Indicates a significant ( p # 0.05) increase in strength within group from baseline to week 12. §Indicates a significant ( p # 0.05) increases in strength within group from week 8 to week 12. k Indicates a significant ( p # 0.05) difference between TD and WUD periodized training groups at week 12.

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R ESULTS

Within-Group Muscular Strength

The ICC conducted on the C group data (baseline and week 12) indicated a mean of 0.92 for test-retest reliability on squat, bench press, leg extension, lat pull-down, and DB shoulder press exercises. Initially, significant ( p # 0.05) increases in muscular strength (i.e., back squat, flat bench press, leg extension, lat pull-down, and DB shoulder press) were noted from baseline to week 8 in both the TD and WUD groups (Table 5). The C group was not measured at week 8 and did not show a significant ( p # 0.05) change in muscular strength from baseline to week 12 (Table 5). Both the TD and WUD groups showed significant ( p # 0.05) improvements in muscular strength for back squat (TD = 54%; WUD = 34%), flat bench press (TD = 24%; WUD = 19%), leg extension (TD = 47%; WUD = 34%), lat pull-down (TD = 28%; WUD = 19%), and DB shoulder press from (TD = 28%; WUD = 19%) baseline to week 12 (Table 5). Interestingly, the TD group showed a significant (p # 0.05) increase in muscular strength from week 8 to week 12 for back squat, flat bench press, lat pull-down, and DB shoulder press but not for leg extension (Table 5). Moreover, the WUD group did not show a significant (p # 0.05) improvement in muscular strength over the same period on any exercise. In summary, when within-group comparisons were con- ducted, it became evident that the TD group made many significant (p # 0.05) improvements from week 8 to week 12, whereas the WUD group’s improvements were marginal.

Between-Group Muscular Strength

No significant (p # 0.05) differences in muscular strength were noted at baseline among any of the groups (TD, WUD, and C). Similar strength gains were found at week 8 between TD and WUD groups (Table 5). As expected, at week 12, both TD and WUD training groups were significantly ( p # 0.05) stronger than the C group on all strength tests. However, on 3 of 5 strength tests, the TD periodized strength training group had greater increases in strength at week 12 than the WUD training group (Table 5). The TD group showed a significantly (p # 0.05) greater improvement in strength as compared with the WUD group for back squat, flat bench press, and lat pull-down but not for the leg extension or DB shoulder press. However, the TD group was stronger than the WUD group on the leg extension and DB shoulder press exercises. Accordingly, the TD group demonstrated significantly (p # 0.05) greater improvements in strength by week 12 as compared with the WUD group. The primary finding was that both TD and WUD groups showed similar increases in strength at week 8, but by week 12, the TD group had made larger strength gains than the WUD group.

D ISCUSSION

The purpose of this study was to determine whether TD or WUD periodized strength training would elicit greater

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strength gains over 12 weeks of training on previously weight- trained ( $6 months) men. The independent variable was the order of weekly intensity (i.e., heavy load) for TD vs. WUD periodized programs. Total volume and intensity were equated between the groups to establish if any difference in training effect were the result of the order of intensity used by the different training groups (TD vs. WUD). The present study is one of a few to use a 4 d wk 2 1 (from week 3 to week 11) training schedule because most studies have used a3d wk 2 1 schedule. The 4 d wk 2 1 schedule is more similar to that used by athletes (e.g., football players) in their development of strength and provides a higher number of training min wk 2 1 (approximately 180 min wk 2 1 in weeks 4211). The most important finding of this study was that there were no significant (p # 0.05) differences in strength between the TD and WUD groups between week 1 and week 8, but by week 12, the TD group was significantly (p # 0.05) stronger than the WUD group. The TD group increased strength by an average of 38.6% from baseline to week 12, whereas the WUD group increased strength by an average of 26.9%. Thus, TD periodized strength training was more successful at increasing muscular strength by week 12 than was WUD periodized program. Moreover, comparing the current study with other periodized strength training studies is not straightforward. More specifically, 4 studies compared TD (linear) periodized strength training with that of undulating periodized strength training (2,3,7,13). Baker et al. (2), Buford et al. (3), and Hoffman et al. (7) found no significant ( p # 0.05) differences between the periodization models in the development of strength. In contrast, Rhea et al. (13) found that undulating periodization was significantly ( p # 0.05) more effective at developing muscular strength than was linear periodization, whereas the present study found that TD periodization was more effective than undulating periodization in the development of strength. Baker et al. (2), Buford et al. (3), and the present study all equated the training volume between the groups. It was believed that equating the training volume was the best way to fairly compare the training regimes. However, Rhea et al. (13) and Hoffman et al. (7) did not equate training volume, indicating that under real training conditions, the training volume would not be the same between the TD linear and undulating programs. Which is a more appropriate method of comparison is up to the reader, but all of the studies provide important information. Another important difference among these studies pertains to the undulating periodized program. The studies of Buford et al. (3), Hoffman et al. (7), and Rhea et al. (13) used daily undulating periodization, meaning that within each week, there were large changes in intensity from workout to workout (e.g., from Rhea et al.: day 1 = 3 sets 8RM, day 2 = 3 sets 6RM, and day 3 = 3 sets 4RM). The current study and one of the groups in the Buford et al. (3) study used WUD periodization. Weekly undulating specifies that within a week,

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the intensity (percent 1RM) was relatively consistent from workout to workout, but the intensity changed (undulated)

dramatically from week to week and not in a progressively increasing manner. The Buford et al. (3) and Rhea et al. (13) studies used 3 d wk 2 1 training schedule, whereas the current study and Hoffman et al. (7) used a 4 d wk 2 1 training schedule. The present study and the Rhea et al. (13) studies used subjects with previous strength training experience (. 6 months), whereas Hoffman et al. (7) used well-trained National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division

III college football players. Based on the array of similarities

and differences between the undulating periodized strength programs, caution must be used when comparing the results from these various studies. Thus, the variation in results among these studies is likely related to some combination of total training volume (e.g., days per week), weight training experience, or weekly vs. daily undulating models or all. The current study used a 4 d wk 2 1 schedule and found that TD periodization was superior in the development of strength to that of WUD periodization,

whereas Baker et al. (2) and Buford et al. (3) used a 3 d . wk 2 1 training schedule and found no significant (p # 0.05) difference between the different forms of periodization (including WUD). Rhea et al. (13) found that daily undulating periodization was more effective than linear periodization using a 3 d wk 2 1 schedule, which is opposite

to the results of the present study. Rhea et al. (13) and

the current study both used subjects with similar levels of

weight training experience, with the difference between the studies being that of training volume and weekly vs. daily undulation. The difference in the results may lie in the weekly vs. daily undulation of the periodized program and number

of training days per week or both.

The present study’s results propose that from baseline

to week 8, both TD and WUD periodized groups showed

significant increases in muscular strength for all strength tests, with no significant (p # 0.05) difference in strength noted between the groups. Similar increases in strength from

baseline to approximately week 8 using various forms of periodization have been found (2,3,7,10). Interestingly, other studies comparing periodized with nonperiodized strength training have also found similar results, indicating no significant difference in strength between periodized and nonperiodized groups up to week 8 (4,19). Although the present study used recreationally active men with $6-month resistance training experience, many other studies have shown similar conclusions using a variety of subjects. Previous studies have used competitive athletes (2,7), people with no prior strength training experience (12), women (3,10,12), and a variety of ages (12). Regardless of these differences among the studies, the results indicate that in the initial weeks of strength training (up to approximately 8 weeks), the type of strength training program (e.g., TD periodized, undulating periodized, or nonperiodized) may not be an important factor in inducing strength gains

for a variety of populations (e.g., moderately trained or detrained). The initial strength improvements are likely attributable to neural adaptation, which is the predominant cause of increased strength during the first few weeks of strength training (1–8 weeks), especially in persons with low to moderate training experience (2,4,7,10). However, in the present study, by week 12, the TD group had significantly ( p # 0.05) greater strength than the WUD group on 3 (i.e., back squat, flat bench press, and lat pull-down) of 5 tests. Therefore, TD periodized training outperformed WUD periodized training between week 8 and week 12. Keep in mind that the single difference between the TD and WUD programs was the ordering of intensity (e.g., of heavy workouts). The week-to-week order of intensity is known to influence muscular strength via neural adaptation (5,8,14). This suggests that to elicit strength increases, the choice of training model may become important at some point after week 8, and it may be related to the week-to-week order of intensity. It should be noted that after the early weeks of strength training (approximately 8 weeks), gradual increases in hypertrophic factors are believed to be associated with increases in strength (2–5,10,15). However, hypertrophy could not be verified in the present study because there were no significant (p # 0.05) changes in body composition (i.e., bioelectrical impedance analysis) in either the TD or WUD group from week 8 to week 12 or from baseline to week 12. The inability to substantiate hypertrophic changes may have been related to the assessment method and might have been detectible with other more sensitive assessment methods (15). Another factor that may have influenced the findings of the present study was that subjects in the WUD group reported higher levels of extended DOMS and fatigue throughout the 12-week study than did the TD group. The increase in DOMS was also noted in weeks 10–12 of the daily undulating groups in the study by Rhea et al. (13). Interestingly, during this period (weeks 6–12), there were no differences in strength gains between the groups, in contrast to the initial 6 weeks where the daily undulating group demonstrated greater strength gains than the TD periodized strength training group (13). Examining why DOMS was associated more with the undulating programs was beyond the scope of these studies, but heightened DOMS may have interfered with both training and testing and thus overall strength gains in the WUD group. Similar to the present study, Hoffman et al. (7) examined the effects of 4 d wk 2 1 nonperiodized, TD periodized, and undulating periodized strength training schedules on highly trained NCAA football players. In contrast, Hoffman et al. (7) reported no DOMS in their article and found that there was no significant difference in strength gains among the different training models. Given that the training schedules (4 d k 2 1 ) were similar to the present study, the difference in results

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Comparison of Periodization Models

might be attributable to differences in level of training of the subjects. The highly trained athletes in the study by Hoffman et al. (7) may have been accustomed to the rigors of a4d wk 2 1 undulating training schedule and, as such, did not experience any significant DOMS. Consequently, the training experience of the athletes may to some extent dictate the threshold for training volume with undulating program but not for TD linear program. In conclusion, the present study’s findings indicate that both TD and WUD periodized training groups made similar strength gains from baseline to week 8. However, between week 8 and week 12, the TD group outperformed the WUD group making significantly larger improvements in strength. The fact that the WUD group experienced more extended DOMS and fatigue than the TD group may have negatively affected the WUD group’s ability to perform strength training and testing, resulting in reduced strength gains by week 12. Also, some variance in the results of this study vs. previous periodized strength training research may have resulted from the increased training time (min wk 2 1 ), frequency (d wk 2 1 ), and background (i.e., training experience) of the subjects. Therefore, comparison of results across periodized strength training studies must be conducted carefully.

P RACTICAL A PPLICATIONS

Subjects who underwent periodization strength training did not show significant changes in body mass or composition over the 12-week study, but strength significantly increased over the same period. Thus, the use of periodized strength training, more so the TD model, may be effective at improving strength while maintaining body mass. If strength can be improved while body mass is maintained, strength relative to body mass (relative strength) should be increased. In weight class sports such as wrestling and boxing, it is beneficial to have high relative strength because it generally increases the likelihood of being stronger than an opponent, which is a competitive advantage.

A CKNOWLEDGMENTS

We would like to thank the Fitness and Lifestyle Centre at the University of Regina for their support of this research project, in particular Mrs. Karen Fahlman, Manager.

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