Linear or Undulating Periodization for Maximal Strength & Size Gains? Latest Study Shows Both Work, Differences Between the Two Exist, But May Eventually Be Negligible
|Box squats and bench presses were the "core" exercises the trainees periodized differently in the linear and undulating periodization group.|
Harries, Lubans and Callister are now the first to compare the differential effects of these types of periodization on strength and size gains in 26 adolescent male sub-elite rugby players (aged 14 to 18 years). And what they found is... well, interesting to say the least.
Participants were randomly assigned to two different training progression models. A linear periodization program (LP) an undulating periodization program (DUP) for 12 weeks (see Table 1).
|Table 1: Core exercise (back squat + bench press) progression for LP and DUP programs (Harries. 2015).|
Does it make a difference that the trainees were adolescents? Obviously it could, but if you look at the studies in adult subjects, the results are similarly ambiguous. As of now, it seems as if both types of periodization work and whether one is more effective than another may depend on (a) unknown individual variables and/or (b) rarely tested previous training experience. What I would like to know is whether someone who has always been using a classic linear periodization scheme may see greater strength and size gains if he / she switches to an undulating scheme.When performing the core strength exercises, the back squat and bench press, the heaviest load used during each training session (daily max load) was prescribed using percentages of the maximum training weight. Participants were instructed to incrementally increase the load on the barbell to achieve this daily maxload by commencement of the third set. Sets one and two of each core strength exercise during each training session were considered warm up sets and participants were instructed to use 60–70% of the daily max load on the first set, and 70–80% on the second set. For the third and all subsequent sets participants used 100% ofthe daily max load (the loading pattern for each training group is described in detail in Table 1).
|Figure 1: Comparison of the increases in 1-RM box squat & bench press performance (Harries. 2015).|
|Figure 1: Comparison of the changes in muscle mass and body fat (Harries. 2015).|
- Harries, Simon K., David R. Lubans, and Robin Callister. "Comparison of resistance training progression models on maximal strength in sub-elite adolescent rugby union players." Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (2015).
- Hoffman, Jay R., et al. "Comparison between linear and nonlinear in-season training programs in freshman football players." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 17.3 (2003): 561-565.
- Hoffman, Jay R., et al. "Comparison between different off-season resistance training programs in Division III American college football players." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 23.1 (2009): 11-19.
- Rhea, Matthew R., et al. "A comparison of linear and daily undulating periodized programs with equated volume and intensity for strength." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 16.2 (2002): 250-255.