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Periodization and Programming in Sports

Faculty of Sport, Health and Social Sciences, Solent University, E Park Terrace, Southampton SO14 0YN, UK
Strength and Conditioning Society, Via del Fontanile Anagnino 159, 00118 Rome, Italy
Research Unit for Orthopaedic Sports Medicine and Injury Prevention, ISAG, UMIT Tirol, Eduard-Wallnöfer-Zentrum 1, 6060 Hall, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sports 2021, 9(2), 13;
Submission received: 3 January 2021 / Accepted: 17 January 2021 / Published: 20 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Periodization and Programming in Sports)
Periodization is a generally accepted approach to manage athletic performance by the sub-division of training programs into sequential, specifically focused training periods. Periodization implements structured variability into the training process, with the aim of maximizing performance in the most critical phases of the competitive season and/or improving long-term development. A recent review specifically compared periodized and non-periodized resistance training practices for strength and hypertrophy adaptations [1]. This prompted a series of responses considering the SAID principle (specific adaptations to imposed demands) and the use of heavier-loads close to testing time-points [2], and, often overlooked, confounding variables which appear to impact strength and hypertrophy adaptations (e.g., exercise selection, supervision, etc.) [3].
The construct of periodization in strength and conditioning for athletes appears to originate from the general adaptation syndrome (GAS) proposed by Hans Selye [4]. However, Selye’s original work was based on a series of rodent studies testing the stress response to sub-lethal doses of different drugs (e.g., morphine, atropine), and stimuli (e.g., temperature, exercise, etc.), so results may not be readily applicable to the field of strength and conditioning [5]. In debate, the GAS model has been defended in its framework for periodization for the management of stress and fatigue to adaptation during sports training [6]. Whilst the views of the Strength and Conditioning Society (SCS) are to support and promote effective methods in enhancing athletic performance, of which periodization is a generally accepted practice, it is also an academic organization priding itself in the search for the scientific truth in exercise physiology, health, and human performance. As such, Drs. Jeremy Loenneke and Greg Haff presented a point: counterpoint discussion of periodization at the 2019 Strength and Conditioning Society conference in Madrid. This special issue stems from this interesting and exciting debate and pursues the aim to collate scientific evidence relating to periodization and programming in sports.
Within this special issue we have published articles concerning male and female elite soccer players [7,8], more specifically relating to how the use of detraining periods [7], and seasonal transitions and coaching influence [8] affect physiological performance markers. In addition, there are publications looking at the extension of nonlinearity programming into periodization [9]—certainly a topical as to how programming and periodization relate. Further publications include consideration of strength and power adaptations resulting from block periodization across persons of different training status [10], and training organization in bodybuilders [11]. To conclude, the final contributions to this special issue include a review of tapering and peaking practices for maximal strength adaptations for powerlifting performance [12], the effects of concurrent training and prolonged neuromuscular performance even after cessation of explosive strength training [13], and lastly, power profiling of professional U23 cyclists through periods of a competitive season—notable for the large sample size in this calibre of athlete [14].
Importantly, all the published articles within this special issue provide sensible, evidence-based information that practitioners and athletes can use to inform their own methods. Furthermore, there is important application to the layperson looking to improve their strength, health, and wellbeing.
As guest editors, and on behalf of the Strength and Conditioning Society (SCS), we would like to thank the editorial staff at Sports for supporting this special issue, as well as the authors for their submissions, and the reviewers for their time and commitment to academic and scientific progress—without peer-review, these publications would not be possible.

Author Contributions

Writing—original draft preparation, J.P.F.; writing—review and editing, R.C. Both authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


The authors of this editorial wish to acknowledge the work of the board of directors and the members of the Strength and Conditioning Society for their support in the Special Issue: Periodization and Programming in Sports.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest. James Fisher and Robert Csapo did not receive any funding in support of this editorial piece or special issue.


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  2. Nunes, J.P.; Ribeiro, A.S.; Schoenfeld, B.J.; Cyrino, E.S. Comment on “Comparison of periodized and non-periodized resistance training on maximal strength: A meta-analysis”. Sports Med. 2018, 48, 491–494. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
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  4. Selye, H. Experimental evidence supporting the conception of adaptation energy. Am. J. Physiol. 1938, 123, 758–765. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
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  6. Cunanan, A.J.; DeWeese, B.H.; Wagle, J.P.; Carroll, K.M.; Sausaman, R.; Hornsby, G.W.; Haff, G.G.; Travis Triplett, N.; Pierce, K.C.; Stone, M.H. The general adaptation syndrome: A foundation for the concept of periodization. Sports Med. 2018, 48, 1751–1753. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. Periera, L.A.; Freitas, T.T.; Pivetti, B.; Alcaraz, P.E.; Jeffreys, I.; Loturco, I. Short-term detraining does not impair strength, speed, and power performance in elite young soccer players. Sports 2020, 8, 141. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  8. Purdom, T.M.; Levers, K.S.; McPherson, C.S.; Giles, J.; Brown, L. A longitudinal prospective study: The effect of annual season transition and coaching influence on aerobic capacity and body composition in division I female soccer players. Sports 2020, 8, 107. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  9. Afonso, J.; Clemente, F.M.; Ribeiro, J.; Ferreira, M.; Fernandes, R.J. Towards a de facto nonlinear periodization: Extending nonlinearity from programming to periodizing. Sports 2020, 8, 110. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  10. Wetmore, A.B.; Moquin, P.A.; Carroll, K.M.; Fry, A.C.; Hornsby, W.G.; Stone, M.H. The effect of training status on adaptations to 11 weeks of block periodization training. Sports 2020, 8, 145. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  11. Alves, R.C.; Prestes, J.; Enes, A.; de Moraes, W.M.A.; Trindade, T.B.; de Salles, B.E.; Aragon, A.A.; Souza-Junior, T.P. Training programs designed for muscle hypertrophy in bodybuilders: A narrative review. Sports 2020, 8, 149. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  12. Travis, S.K.; Mujika, I.; Gentles, J.A.; Stone, M.H.; Bazyler, C.D. Tapering and peaking maximal strength for powerlifting performance: A review. Sports 2020, 8, 125. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  13. Berryman, N.; Mujika, I.; Bosquet, L. Effects of Short-Term Concurrent Training Cessation on the Energy Cost of Running and Neuromuscular Performances in Middle-Distance Runners. Sports 2021, 9, 1. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  14. Leo, P.; Spragg, J.; Simon, D.; Lawley, J.S.; Mujika, I. Training Characteristics and Power Profile of Professional U23 Cyclists throughout a Competitive Season. Sports 2020, 8, 167. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
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Fisher, J.P.; Csapo, R. Periodization and Programming in Sports. Sports 2021, 9, 13.

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Fisher JP, Csapo R. Periodization and Programming in Sports. Sports. 2021; 9(2):13.

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Fisher, James P., and Robert Csapo. 2021. "Periodization and Programming in Sports" Sports 9, no. 2: 13.

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