T Nation

Block Periodization Insight Needed

I’ve been using the same type of programming for over a year now (with some minor changes). My templates change but 90% of my training on the big lifts is for 3-10 sets for 2-8 reps. I do back off sets of 10+ and all assistance is 10+ reps per set.

I’ve never really done block periodization, but I think I’m at a point strength wise where it would wise to my body to incorporate this type of training. Being forced to switch up rep changes from 10’s to 8’s to 6’s to 4’s or whatever the recipe I think would start the process of prolonging my lifting career.

For everyone that uses block periodization, what favorite program/template do you follow? What has worked for you?

The idea is that you will resensitise your muscles to particular stimulus by varying it.

  1. If what is working then no need to do anything
  2. There are infinite models but the general principle is higher volume/lower intensity to lowet volume/higher intensity
  3. The simplest way to do this is to simply shift the rep ranges and keep everything else the same. For example, your main movement may go from 2x4 to 1x2, your supplemental movements from 2x8 to 2x4, then your assistance might go from the 10-20 range to 6-8.
  4. More traditional models will have all your work in a particular rep range.
  5. You may get all the benefits of this type of block work through exercise variations if you choose right.

The basic idea is to alternate phases of high volume/lower intensity with phases of lower volume/high intensity. How high or low or how long each phase or block is going to be will depend on a number of things, and the difference between that and linear periodization is smaller than you might think. Basically, start off light with lots of volume and gradually go heavier and reduce volume until you can’t go much heavier then start back at the beginning with more weight.

Wow! The heavens moved into alignment and we have the Perfect 3 guys to think our way through this!

At the risk of stereo typing, 1 guy is a ninja warrior athlete, one a strongman and one a powerlifter.

Classic western or linear periodization goes from high volume/low intensity to low volume/high intensity. Lots of light work to less heavier work. As chris mentioned, block periodization is often just like that. This works for powerlifting. Tons of volume for muscles then later get good at heavy lifts.

Louie and the conjugate guys call this a De Training system. You do less work over time. This won’t work for the ninja warrior. It would be silly to cut volume of the skill work just to lift heavier weights.

A strongman can’t get stronger and do less work as the event get close. Ideally they would start out strong enough, and then get more reps or go faster Or last longer.

If you need more skills or more power/speed/endurance you can’t do less work and less volume. Westside dudes keep the volume and intensity and work load super, super consistent week after week. They also keep it continuously creeping up week after week after week. Like strongman goals mentioned, they accomplish this with exercise variation. Strongman and athletes are always inadvertently changing exercises as the competitions/events/conditions change. More variety makes them more skilled.

Dave Tate talked about this way back in the first TNation article I ever read.


If you were going to use a form of linear periodization for a sport that doesn’t involve lifting weights then you would cut down on the weight training when you are approaching the competition period and increase sport-specific training. Just like you would cut down assistance work when you are close to a PL meet.

The main difference between linear and block periodization is that linear has a beginning and an end, with block you can go back and forth between volume and intensity blocks until it is time to peak. If you are going to do volume-intensity-peaking in that order then it can end up looking a lot like linear periodization.