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Conjugate Sequence System


#1

Hey Everyone,

There has been a lot of confusion regarding the topic of conjugate periodization.

Many define Westside as a conjugate system, while others disagree, as it is contrary to Siff, Verks, or Zat's definition.

Louie, has in a sense, condensed the original 4-6 week model into a 7 day one, and is aiming to develop 3 qualities simultanouesly.

The original model, on the other hand demonstrates that a specific quality should be focused on while other motor abilites are maintained in a give mesocycle. You would then switch "Emphasis" and focus on another ability that was maintained.

1)How would one incorporate this type of periodization? (Rotating emphasis on a certain quality while maintaing the other 2?

Siff has proposed that the concurrent loading, utilized by westside is sub optimal to concentrated loading.

2) Which do you find more effective, Concurrent Loading (Westside), or Concentrated loading (Origial Conjugate)?

Feel free to give your thoughts/info/sources on this subject, as I am sure many of the readers will be quite interested in learning more about the original Conjugate periodization, and differienting it between Westside's periodization.

I would like to, in a sense, put this topic to rest.

(Man My eyes hurt from reading too much!)

Anway, MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! (yeah, im a loser posting here on christmas night..haha)

-The Truth


#2

 You're exactly right about how Verkhoshansky defined the COnjugate Sequence System.  And, as a matter of fact, the Westside method is not "conjugate sequence" but a comples method, a method Verkhoshanky recommends for novice athletes (incorporating a multi-sided approach into a single training session or microcycle).  It doesn't provide enough "displacement of the functional state" to be a good training method for high caliber athletes, which is why he suggests intensification by unidirectional loading for a series of phases.  So, Louie may have misinterpreted some of the science and semantics.

 However, if you've read about the success of Jim Wendler on Elite, I think they have begun to incorporate periods of unidirectional loading while maintaining the other aspects.  He has said he took the approach of "going heavy" while he just maintained his speed, gpp, etc.  Also, Louie has created circa maximal phases for certain lifters, also a form of unidirectional loading.

 I believe that the standard Westside template is very good for a beginner or intermediate athlete as it is, assuming that the technique for the lifts is good (that should be addressed separately as a phase for a beginner before Westside methods are used, in my opinion).  One shold then go to a standard Westside template for awhile, until they are an advanced athlete (totalling one class under elite, perhaps, though this is a guess used for  an example only).  Then intensity could be increased through several conjugately sequenced periods of loading, each with an emphasis that provides a positive effect on the next.

 Once an athlete becomes advaced (perhaps an elite total, etc.) unidirectional loading should be the main focus of training, while all other aspects are only maintained during each phase in order to provide the maximum training effect for each aspect.

 That was long winded, but I think it explains the two approaches pretty well.

#3

Damnit son.

Yoda my man that is one of the best explanations of the Westside method I have ever seen.

I gotta go back and reread that.

Thanks for the info my friend.


#4

Hey Yoda, Thanks for your response. I was hoping for more tune ins, but your answer was great.

1)Would you mind explaining, "he suggests intensification by unidirectional loading for a series of phases."

I guess Louie's system could be a conjugate method, since he is training 3 qualities simultaneously.

2) Isn't concentrated loading and other way of saying Unidirectional loading?

I agree with you, a multi sided approach would be great for beginners, but in my opinion, its better to spread it over a microcycle, instead of cramaming it into 1 session. What do you think?

1)"Then intensity could be increased through several conjugately sequenced periods of loading, each with an emphasis that provides a positive effect on the next."

Sorta like, Focus on ME, maintain others, focus on REP, then Focus on DE?
Haha, again, would you mind elaborating on that? Or that apply to this statement? "
Once an athlete becomes advaced (perhaps an elite total, etc.) unidirectional loading should be the main focus of training, while all other aspects are only maintained during each phase in order to provide the maximum training effect for each aspect"

Sorry for the load of questions, But thanks.

-The Truth


#5

According to Verkhoshansky, Louie's method is not "conjugate sequence" but it is the "conjugate method," where you work different motor qualities in one microcycle (or training session). Verkhoshansky suggests training in a series of phases, such as his example for sprinters: aerobic,mixed, alactric-anaerobic,anaerobic-glycolyitic. There is a slight overlap between phases.

 Now, let's say we have an advanced powerlifter.  He may do bodybuilding type work, then max effort work, then regular DE work, then ME plus DE, then plyometric DE plus ME (with plyometric DE being something like dropping the bar in bench and catching it just off the chest, then propelling it back up).

 Yes

yes, this would be precisely the "beginner" Westside protocol, as outlined in "The Eight Keys" or other Westside-like programs. However, in principle, it is ok to do mixed training sessions for a beginner.

Basically, as you progress, you move the training of each quality further apart so you get a "pure" and concentrated training effect. You might go: mixed sessions, Westside conjugate sessions, one week long sessions (one motor quality per week, similar to the "Athletic Pendulum"), to full-blown 4-6 week phases of unidirectional loading.

You've got the right idea, but for a powerlifter you'd probably do something more like what I mentioned above, with the focus always being on max effort.

Now, taking someone who's never done DE before, but always used ME, you might go: ME plus DE, DE, plyo-DE, ME plus plyo-DE, ME(short phase, 2 weeks max with slight DE maintenance), then a meet.

That way, you progress into dynamic effort, replace it with plyometric DE (which has a higher training effect), then re-introduce ME (the primary motor quality) while maintaining your newly acquired DE skills, then finally end with a short ME phase to shake off any rust.

Because motor qualities (especially newly acquired ones) don't last long, some (but not much) maintenance would be required in the last 2 week phase.

 Now, you want to introduce each quality in the right order.  In the case of powerlifting, most guys who have been doing ME all their lives are probably super slow, so the DE will have a positive effect on their strength.

Going ME to DE would not be appropriate because the ME would not leave a positive after effect that would help the speed (and speed isn't what you're after, it's strength. Speed is a means to an end).

 Just like it says, once your very advanced, most of your training should be unidirectional.  If you're really far from competition then a more multi-sided approach is good to rest and maintain, but an advanced athlete needs the unidirectional loading to provide a significant training effect.

 My pleasure.  Sorry for the long-winded responses.

#6

Yoda, Thanks again for your insight. I actually really like the "long-winded responses", sometimes a little technical tho =).

[quote]Yoda-x wrote:
Hey Yoda, Thanks for your response. I was hoping for more tune ins, but your answer was great.

1)Would you mind explaining, "he suggests intensification by unidirectional loading for a series of phases."

I guess Louie's system could be a conjugate method, since he is training 3 qualities simultaneously.

According to Verkhoshansky, Louie's method is not "conjugate sequence" but it is the "conjugate method," where you work different motor qualities in one microcycle (or training session). Verkhoshansky suggests training in a series of phases, such as his example for sprinters: aerobic,mixed, alactric-anaerobic,anaerobic-glycolyitic. There is a slight overlap between phases.

 Now, let's say we have an advanced powerlifter.  He may do bodybuilding type work, then max effort work, then regular DE work, then ME plus DE, then plyometric DE plus ME (with plyometric DE being something like dropping the bar in bench and catching it just off the chest, then propelling it back up).

When you say he does bodybuilding type work, then regular de work, then ME PLUS DE...and etc. What type of "loading" or periodization are we talking about here? iS HE PERFORMING a structural workout 1 week, then etc. Would you mind "showing" this in a sample?

2) Isn't concentrated loading and other way of saying Unidirectional loading?

 Yes

I agree with you, a multi sided approach would be great for beginners, but in my opinion, its better to spread it over a microcycle, instead of cramaming it into 1 session. What do you think?

yes, this would be precisely the "beginner" Westside protocol, as outlined in "The Eight Keys" or other Westside-like programs. However, in principle, it is ok to do mixed training sessions for a beginner.

Basically, as you progress, you move the training of each quality further apart so you get a "pure" and concentrated training effect. You might go: mixed sessions, Westside conjugate sessions, one week long sessions (one motor quality per week, similar to the "Athletic Pendulum"), to full-blown 4-6 week phases of unidirectional loading.

Hmm..Very interesting. However, how would you train 1 motor ability a week? Doesn't that pose a burnout threat? If not, how many times should the quality be trained a week?

When you say "pure concentrated effect", by spreading out the qualities trained over time, you gave me the impression of a linear type periodization as each "quality" is focused on for 4-5 weeks. Forgive me if Im wrong.

1)"Then intensity could be increased through several conjugately sequenced periods of loading, each with an emphasis that provides a positive effect on the next."

Sorta like, Focus on ME, maintain others, focus on REP, then Focus on DE?
Haha, again, would you mind elaborating on that?

You've got the right idea, but for a powerlifter you'd probably do something more like what I mentioned above, with the focus always being on max effort.

Now, taking someone who's never done DE before, but always used ME, you might go: ME plus DE, DE, plyo-DE, ME plus plyo-DE, ME(short phase, 2 weeks max with slight DE maintenance), then a meet.

That way, you progress into dynamic effort, replace it with plyometric DE (which has a higher training effect), then re-introduce ME (the primary motor quality) while maintaining your newly acquired DE skills, then finally end with a short ME phase to shake off any rust.

Because motor qualities (especially newly acquired ones) don't last long, some (but not much) maintenance would be required in the last 2 week phase.

Sorry, lost me there!

 Now, you want to introduce each quality in the right order.  In the case of powerlifting, most guys who have been doing ME all their lives are probably super slow, so the DE will have a positive effect on their strength.

Going ME to DE would not be appropriate because the ME would not leave a positive after effect that would help the speed (and speed isn't what you're after, it's strength. Speed is a means to an end).

Wow, you just threw a whole bunch of info at me! Say we are training an athelete rather than a powerlifter. How would you utilized a "conjugate sequence system?

If you only did ME+DE, wouldn't you let hypertrophy suffer?

CT mentioned in previous threads, that he incorporated "conjugate blocks system", in which emphasis was divided by volume. (E.G ME EMPHASIS= 50% total volume strength, 25% total volume size, 25% total volume speed), switching emphasis in the order of ME,RE,DE.

Right now I am not very interested in plyos, and am focused on bringing up size and strength like every other t-man. Would you mind giving a sample of how you would utilize a conjugate sequence system for an athelete in the off season?

Or that apply to this statement? "Once an athlete becomes advaced (perhaps an elite total, etc.) unidirectional loading should be the main focus of training, while all other aspects are only maintained during each phase in order to provide the maximum training effect for each aspect"

 Just like it says, once your very advanced, most of your training should be unidirectional.  If you're really far from competition then a more multi-sided approach is good to rest and maintain, but an advanced athlete needs the unidirectional loading to provide a significant training effect.

Thanks Yoda. 1 final question. I have only been reading these russian translated text from online. If you had to choose between "Supertraining and "The Science and practice of strength training", which one would you favor, in terms of learning more about periodization, and overall training means.

-The Truth

Sorry for the load of questions, But thanks.

-The Truth


#7

Let's see if I can jump in and add anything to this discussion.

By Siff's definition, and what's already been said here, the Westside system would not appear to be a conjugate method of periodisation. I did like the line about shrinking the 4-6 week cycle down into 7 days. Personally, I honestly don't feel like I can render an opinion on which is more effective- I haven't been training long enough. I'll take this quote from Supertraining though:

"The above research has shown that concentration of the volume of uni-directional loading produces more extensive functional changes and greater improvement in the athlete's physical fitness. The regular use of training with distributed loading which is dispersed over a prolonged period evokes only a transient functional reaction which does not enhance the development of long-term adaptation. Distributed loading initially can yield some rise in functional level but its training potential soon drops because of rapid adaptation of the body to the training stimuli." (Siff)

It sounds like Siff is in favor of the "true" method of conjugate sequencing to me. In the short term, "complex" training is superior because all qualities are being addressed. However, the body will soon adapt to that stimulus. If I had to label Westside, my first instinct would be to label it "concurrent", because all qualities are not being addressed in one session (which I believe would be complex), but all training qualities are stressed equally throughout a mesocycle. However, if you think about it, it kind of is a conjugate sequence, where the loading is always concentrated on Maximal Strength. In 4 weeks a typical lifter will do 8 upper body days. If 4 of these are ME, 2 are DE and 2 are RE, then wouldn't it be concentrated loading of maximal strength and with maintenance volumes of speed-strength and strength-endurance? Therefore, I would have to say that Westside could be considered Conjugate Sequencing in the true sense of the word. Certainly there are many other means that could be subsituted besides ME, RE and DE. It could easily be set up to concentrate loading on other qualities. Using 4/8 days on DE, 2/8 on ME and 2/8 on RE would make it concentrated loading with a speed-strength emphasis. In my opinion it seems like the Westside template is Conjugate Sequencing, optimized and tinkered with to make it more specific to powerlifting.

Any thoughts?


#8

 If you look at the "standard" template of Westside you see that you get one ME day and one DE day each week for upper and lower body.  After that you do assistance work with RE.  You could change it to be one week DE one week RE if you wanted I guess, but that doesn't mean that it's concentrated loading for ME.  Verkhoshanky said that the way to increase the intensity of a particular aspect is to increase the frequency, so if you wanted a concentrated ME cycle you'd do ME more than once a week (similar to a circa max phase, where on DE day you use tons of band tension so the force is near your max, esentially maxing you have 2 ME days per week).

#9

Yoda,

That makes sense. As I said I'm not to familiar with Westside, I learned most of it through DeFranco and WS4SB, which is already a modified version. I should have thought about that first.

One other question, I have yet to read Verkhoshansky (still trying to finish Supertraining), but couldn't concentrated loading be done in a "block" periodisation, where volume is waved throughout the block , but modality and intensity remain constant. For instance:

"ME" Block
Week 1- ME and DE (Moderate volume)
Week 2- ME and RE (High volume)
Week 3- ME and RE (Moderate volume)
Week 4- ME and DE (High volume)
Week 5- Active recovery

To stay a little more true to the conjugate sequencing, only ME work would be done on ME day, only DE on DE day and only high-rep assistance on RE.

This is really more out of curiosity, but does that make sense?


#10

Yoda, Thanks again for your insight. I actually really like the "long-winded responses", sometimes a little technical tho =).

(Would you mind reading this whole post, some of it is yours, but I kinda fucked up on it, my responses are in here. Thanks!

When you say he does bodybuilding type work, then regular de work, then ME PLUS DE...and etc. What type of "loading" or periodization are we talking about here? iS HE PERFORMING a structural workout 1 week, then etc. Would you mind "showing" this in a sample?

Hmm..Very interesting. However, how would you train 1 motor ability a week? Doesn't that pose a burnout threat? If not, how many times should the quality be trained a week?

When you say "pure concentrated effect", by spreading out the qualities trained over time, you gave me the impression of a linear type periodization as each "quality" is focused on for 4-5 weeks. Forgive me if Im wrong.

Sorry, lost me there!

Wow, you just threw a whole bunch of info at me! Say we are training an athelete rather than a powerlifter. How would you utilized a "conjugate sequence system?

If you only did ME+DE, wouldn't you let hypertrophy suffer?

CT mentioned in previous threads, that he incorporated "conjugate blocks system", in which emphasis was divided by volume. (E.G ME EMPHASIS= 50% total volume strength, 25% total volume size, 25% total volume speed), switching emphasis in the order of ME,RE,DE.

Right now I am not very interested in plyos, and am focused on bringing up size and strength like every other t-man. Would you mind giving a sample of how you would utilize a conjugate sequence system for an athelete in the off season?

Thanks Yoda. 1 final question. I have only been reading these russian translated text from online. If you had to choose between "Supertraining and "The Science and practice of strength training", which one would you favor, in terms of learning more about periodization, and overall training means.

-The Truth


#11

jtrinsey,

According to CT, Westside can be a form of conjugate periodization.(Training multi qualities simultaneouly). Like yoda said, maybe Louie interperated Siff's work inaccurately. I am not trying to bang Louie, as his condensed "microperiodization" has, in a sense, revolutionize training.

The quote you posted makes sense. Focusing on a certain quality for a prolonged amount of time 1) allows your body to really "solifiy" and develop that certain quality 2) put your body in a state in which supercompensation can occur. Equal distribution has its benefit also. (Westside).

I believe complex training, as CT has defined it, to be training 2 or more qualities in a single session. "complex" training is superior because all qualities are being addressed." Concurrent loading, also known as westside, all qualties are also being addressed, but over a microcycle, instead of a single session. IMO, it will not make a huge difference whether you train multiqualities in a session or in a give microcycle. (I believe beginner/intermediate would benifit more from the latter)

You stated that "In 4 weeks a typical lifter will do 8 upper body days. If 4 of these are ME, 2 are DE and 2 are RE, then wouldn't it be concentrated loading of maximal strength and with maintenance volumes of speed-strength and strength-endurance?"

Yes it would be considered concentrated loading if that was the case. But Westside does not call for a split like that. In a regular westside template. Over a 4 week span, there would be 8 upper body sessions, 4 ME, 4 DE, 8 RE. Its interesting because Christian talks about this slightly, which is referred to as "Conjugate Block system". He will utilize the 3 qualities, each being emphasized on a certain block. He divides emphasis by total weekly volume. E.G *50% volume devoted to strength 35% volume devoted to Size, 15% devoted to power. Emphasis would rotate each block.

Your "ME BLOCK" looks interesting. Couple questions though.

Week 1, If you were to do that, how would your split and workouts look like? I was thinking of taking your desired "weekly volume" and then take the percentages and tinker with it, so that in a give microcycle, there would be emphasis on 1 quality, while maintaing the other 2. (Remember, there is a carryover in the rep zones)

Please elaborate more on this ME BLOCK. Again, sounds interesting.

-The Truth


#12

Go to a gym and lift weights.


#13

I believe that the more advanced you are, the more you need to focus on a given quality, that is, the more deviation you need from the norm. When structuring training, you need to consider the level of the trainee. The less experienced the trainee, the quicker they will decondition. Therefore, complex or concurrent training works best for them. The more advanced trainees (especially at the olympic levels) need "block" style training because:

a.) They need a further deviation from the norm to stimulate adaptation.
b.) They can retain previous conditioning better. Therefore, block-style periodisation, in which only maitenence volume is paid towards other qualities is best.

The only problem with complex training is that training multiple qualities in one session can lead to confusion in adaptation and development of different motor qualities.

I kind of came up with that ME BLOCK off the top of my head, that seems like a pretty good idea how your structured it. Just take the volume and divide it into different rep/intensity zones.


#14

jtrinsey,

your idea sounds good too. I think Christian classified your idea as "wavelike conjugate blocks".

Like Yoda said, maybe by having a primarily focused ME block, one could do an ME Lift twice a week for each.

Say you were to use the bench press as your max effort lift. You would steadily workup to your max. Post, you could do rep work in the functional hypertrophy zone (3-5 reps) which would also have a strength carryover effect while producing hypertrophy correct? I am just trying to toss around ideas.

Now I'm kinda confused!

Well let me know what you think. Feel free to toss some ideas of your own.
(Joel's article has raised an interesting idea, integrating periodizations, maybe training methods also, I think this can be an advantage to learn how to structure such a conjugate sequence system".

-The Truth


#15

Yeah, I am pretty much taking what I said earlier straight from Siff and CT. As far as your schemes go, I think that does sound fine. However, I think there should be an attempt to autoregulate volume. I think this is where a lot of periodisation schemes break down, they all basically attempt to predict what an athlete's needs will be and what their preparedness will be on a given day.

This is one thing I like about DB Hammer's methods, a big part of it is autoregulation and patterning workouts around the preparedness of the athlete. James Smith over on Elite FTS is also a proponent of regulating the volume. You can also see this in some of the logs of the lifters, they will change their workout if they are feeling better/worse. This is an attempt to intuitively autoregulate their volume.

As far as periodisation goes, I like some of the things that DB Hammer has to say, namely, start with assessing your needs. Say you are a powerlifter, then your ultimate goal will be maximal strength. However, you may determine you are lacking overall muscle mass. So you get on a hypertrophy template for a little and only do limited work in the maximal stength and strength-speed areas. After a while you switch to a template focusing on maximal strength and keep pushing up your numbers until you start to plateau. At this point you determine you need more strength-speed, so you switch to a template based on that, and so on and so on. Evaluate your needs and design your training to maintain your strong points while bringing up your weaknesses.


#16


Yoda,

I recently asked CT's opinion and got a couple answers.

At first, I thought that Concentrated loading was merely "concentrating" on a certain quality while maintaining the rest. Thus, I classified his "conjugate block system" as concentrated loading, as there is an emphasis rotation on each quality for each block.

CT stated that "No, concentrated means unidirectional training. My conjugate block system trains several different capacities and use different means at the same time, it is thus a conjugate approach. Conjugate doesn't necessarily mean that all capacities are trained with equal emphasis."

I thought that conjugated periodization was also concentrated loading? Would you mind elaborating on that?

It seems that unidirectional loading is "using only one training method during a certain time frame, but using a very high workload." Which means that they train for only 1 object for each block, and just sequence it in a fasion, that the previously developped capacities will not be detrained too much.

Please correct me if Im wrong.
1) Conjugate sequence loading is unidirectional loading also known as concentrated loading

2) Unidirectional loading is focusing on only 1 quality in a given block

I am pretty confused now. It would be appreciated if you could classify and sort out these terms.
1)unidirectional loading
2)concentrated loading
3) concurrent loading
4) conjugate periodization
5) conjugate method
6) conjugate sequence system

I have attached a graph that shows Zat's form of periodization, which looks quite similar to CT's conjugate block, and doesnt seem remotely anything like what Verkhonsky describes.

Your time and help is appreciated.

-The Truth


#17

Yoda,

My new post to CT if your interested. I too would love your thoughts/answers to the those questions.

-The Truth
(Kind of a long read)

Hey Christian,

Late merry christmas and happy new year. I hope you had a good one.

Now for some training Bizzness! =)

(1)At first, I thought that Concentrated loading was merely "concentrating" on a certain quality while maintaining the rest. Thus, I classified your "conjugate block system" as concentrated loading, as there is an emphasis rotation on each quality for each block. But you say otherwise.

(2)It seems to me then, that conjugate periodization is superior to unidirectional loading. As conjugate works on all qualities simulatenously, unidirectional/concentrated loading focuses on 1 quality, hoping for a carryover on the following block, also hoping that there will be little detraining. Am I correct?

(3) Do you incorporate unidirectional loading?

(4) In the graph that I have attached, by your definition, I would likely classify it as a conjugate sequence system. This graph looks very similar to the graph you provided to explain your conjugate block system. Is there a connection?

(5) So there is no correlation between a Conjugate Sequence system, and unidirectional loading?

(6) It seems to me, then that concentrated loading flat out sucks in it's purest form. Have you found a way to tweak it or refine it into something useful?

It seems wierd because this is what Siff describes as concentrated loading,
"It is in this scenario that a concentrated loading scheme may be utilized. Here, a concentrated loading influence is applied to the body with a high volume of unidirectional loading for the given primary emphasis (Siff, 2000). During the training block, all previously targeted traits are retained with maintenance loads. The duration of each training block is dependant upon individual sport demands, but for the purpose of this paper may be operationally defined as a period of 3-6 weeks. It would certainly not be unreasonable to construct a training block upwards of 2-months in duration, given the demands of acquiring sport form require such a duration. Figures 6 and 7 illustrate an adapted concentrated loading scheme during 2 mesocycles, respectively.

Training utilizing the repetitive method is the primary focus during the first mesocycle. As such, it yields the largest contribution to sport form following a brief unloading period. Note that maximal effort and dynamic effort are maintained with maintenance loading. The training focus is shifted to maximal effort. In addition, dynamic effort receives more training focus than repetitive effort. The large repetitive effort training effect from the first mesocycle is maintained and built upon via the training effect of maximal effort. This sequencing of training effects functions to further contribute to sport form."

Haha, well Ill let you absorb that before I piss you off with more questions. But thoughts would be greatly appreciated though. My planned major in college will likely be in the fields studying these type of the things.

-The Truth


#18

Agreed, I have no idea why its necessary to know all this if you want to squat 1000 lbs.


#19

What's wrong with trying to learn and study a topic that interests you? I mean, last I checked, I can't lift at 2 in the morning. I realize that many people get stuck into the paralysis by analysis deal, but I don't think you can argue against trying to learn more about strength training.

Also, powerlifting is different than training for athletics. For a powerlifter, weight training is specific means. For an athlete, most weight training is just general means, so changing the training means more often is neccessary I think.

Also, as an athlete, just getting stronger is not always the answer. In fact, getting stronger can actually be detrimental to an athlete's speed at a certain point. Lord knows I am far from the point, but maybe I will be there soon haha.


#20

I would just like to learn about it also, as I find it interesting. Look at all the writers here on T-Nation, they all need to "know all this", to provide great info for us to get to "squat 1000 lbs". Think about it.