Chuck Wolf: Periodized Program Hybrid Models

by Chuck Wolf
This an excerpt from Insights into Functional Training, pages 163-167

Periodized Program Hybrid Models

Tudor Bompa, a leader in periodization strategies, states:

“Periodization of strength is structured into phases to maximize sport-specific strength. These phases include muscle endurance, hypertrophy, maximum strength, anatomical adaptation, and reactive training, which incorporate power and explosiveness.”

 In his book Periodization: Training For Sports, he discusses five basic laws of strength training.

Law One: Develop joint flexibility.

This coincides with the principle reminding us not to build stability on top of stability. The joints and tissues must have the eccentric loading capability to allow motion from the big movement rocks in three planes of motion. This reduces overuse issues in the regions that require a greater degree of stability. This law is a principle addressed in the function layer of the Action Pyramid.

Law Two: Develop tendon strength.

Muscle strength is gained more quickly than tendon and ligament strength. Tendons and ligaments adapt through the anatomical adaptation phase of Bompa’s model. Without the progressive adaptation of systematic strength training, the connective tissue is at greater risk for injury.

This second law falls in the transition between the function layer to the fitness layer of the pyramid, as it is crucial that the proper motion derives from adequate actions of the big movement rocks. When this is achieved, these tri-plane motions allow soft tissue to efficiently and effectively load with reduced risk of injury.

When conditions are not conducive for proper motion in these regions, not only do compensatory patterns develop, but also the risk of injury to the tendons and ligaments increases, often at compensatory regions as well.

The fitness layer is where we achieve strength gains and anatomical adaptation.

Law Three: Develop core strength.

The connotation of the core is always an ongoing and interesting discussion. Most interpretations of the core are of the torso, while some suggest the torso and hips. These ideas are true to an extent. However, the core also includes the extremities, the feet, especially the great toe. Even the skin is part of the core, as all tissue has a fascial connection from top to bottom, side to side, and in depth when we think three dimensionally.

Picture an orange and peel it in your mind. The pithy white material connects the rind to the fruit. Now, envision the entire fruit intact. The membrane attaches the slices to one another to hold the slices of fruit together.

Now, imagine taking a slice of the orange, and notice the membrane enveloping the fruit on the inside. Break open the slice and the individual cells are connected by another membrane.

We can correlate the human body and its fascial attachments to the connectivity of an orange. No matter where in the system of either organism, everything is connected. Based on the movement principles we have discussed throughout this book, to allow optimal function of the central core, the big movement rocks must move freely, yet with stability.

The layers of the Action Pyramid involve core strength, especially on the function and fitness layers.

Law Four: Develop the stabilizers.

In human movement, all muscle and fascial tissue stabilizes joints. As we understand the contemporary research on fascia, we know the skeleton would fall apart without the fascial system.

Bone segments of joints are held in space and position by the fascial system. Bones do not touch under normal, healthy conditions, and when they do, degeneration develops over time.

All movement includes stability. Traditional concepts of stabilizers have commonly referred to the ankle, low back, and shoulder. We want to strengthen the stabilizers by working them in isolated, concentric actions, and often in one plane of motion.

Soon after performing these isolated exercises, you should have your clients do an integrated, tri-plane, eccentrically loaded movement pattern. Often, especially when people have progressed with strength and local tissue endurance, we move to a complementary movement pattern.

For example, if reconditioning a weak or injured rotator cuff of a thrower, you might have the athlete do traditional Jobe and Hughston shoulder stabilizing exercises. These are effective in establishing strength and stability. Dr. Frank Jobe, a well-known pioneer in shoulder surgery, created the Jobe exercises, which include the forward raise, lateral raise, reverse fly, internal rotation, external rotation, empty can, and upward rotation, all designed to improve shoulder stability.

Hughston exercises are performed when lying prone on a table to execute the following shoulder stability movements.

When lying in a prone or face-down position, remember that “upward” is still toward the head as if in a standing position. The fact that the client is in a prone position does not change the direction of movement. The Hughston exercises are performed in the following manner:

  1. The client will be lying with the thumb pointed toward the head, arm at the side. Instruct the person to lift the arm to 90 degrees abduction to form the letter “T” if possible. Hold for two seconds and then lower the arm to the start position.
  2. Lying with the thumb pointed toward the head, the client’s arm will be at the side. The person will then lift the arm past 90 degrees abduction to form the letter “Y” if possible. Hold for two seconds and then lower to the start position.
  3. Here the client will lie with the palm of the hand flat against the table and the thumb pointed out, and then will lift the arm into extension. Pause for two seconds and then lower.
  4. With the elbow bent at 90 degrees and the shoulder abducted to 90 degrees, tell the person to externally rotate the humerus, bringing the hand as high as possible. Pause for two seconds and then lower.

These are isolated movements, predominantly on one plane of motion, with a concentric contraction done first. After the set or sets of these exercises, you could have the person do an integrated rotator cuff series of patterns in each of the three planes of motion.

Tri-plane rotator cuff patterns are integrated and involve hip action because of how the hip impacts the shoulder girdle in functional movements such as throwing. You will find a listing of our shoulder reconditioning exercises in Appendix Three.

Figure 10.1 The Action Pyramid

In this case with a higher-level goal, we use these exercises in the technique layer of the Action Pyramid. However, the preparation for the more dynamic pattern is done in the function and fitness layers.

Law Five: Train movements, not individual muscles.

This concept permeates throughout this book and with those who study human movement. The technique and skill layers of the pyramid scream for this law, as it is here where sport or task specificity requires us to overcome the challenges of gravity, ground-reaction forces, mass, momentum, change of body angles, different surfaces, and various loads under tension.

A single muscle working in isolation accomplishes nothing efficient or effective. The brain and body work through a symphony of motion. In Muscle Energy Techniques by Leon Chaitow, Dr. Irwin M. Korr stated:

“The spinal cord is the keyboard on which the brain plays when it calls for activity. But each ‘key’ in the console sounds not an individual ‘tone’ such as the contraction of a particular group of muscle fibers, but a whole ‘symphony’ of motion…The brain thinks in terms of whole motions, not individual muscles. It calls, selectively, for the preprogrammed patterns in the cord and brain stem, modifying them in countless ways and combining them in an infinite variety in still more complex patterns. Each activity is subject to further modulation refinement, and adjustment by the feedback…from the muscles, tendon, and joints.”

With contemporary research, we can add the fascial system to his description.

The Modern-Day Concept of Periodization

The phases of a comprehensive periodized program include endurance, anatomical adaptation, hypertrophy, maximum strength, power, and reactive training.

These phases can be implemented in a multitude of ways with various training techniques, tools, and scientific study. The success of a well-formulated periodization program is greatly dependent upon the planning of variables such as the load (intensity), number of sets (volume), speed of movement, and rest intervals, among others.

You should definitely consider these factors. However, let’s add another extremely important component: movement variability.

In the NIH Public Access “The Bliss of Motor Abundance,” Experimental Brain Research, March, 2012; 217 (1): 1-5, Mark Latash contends:

“Motor control is an area of natural science exploring how the nervous system interacts with other body parts and the environment to produce purposeful, coordinated actions.”

The article refers to overuse or repetitive patterns as “redundancy,” and random patterns as “abundancy.” Good variance helps an abundant system manage tasks and unexpected external forces upon the body. Some of the research has summarized movement variability as “receptions without repletion.” It is the random, tri-plane action that creates a motor engram, allowing a person to hone a skill, technique, or task.

The concept of movement variability is a primary objective in the technique and skill layers of the Action Pyramid. When creating a program for a client, we should think beyond the traditional model of classic periodization. Within the fabric of the periodized model, try to blend the Action Pyramid as the foundation on which to plan your goals and objectives.

This foundation is centered around the wants and needs of the client. Weave the Action Pyramid into the classic periodization model, but include the modalities through the use of Dalcourt’s Four Quadrant model that intersects movement goals against loaded goals, or what has become known as “loaded movement training.”

The 4Q model is a variant of the Four Quadrant model created by Michol Dalcourt of Institute of Motion in Solana Beach, California. Michol is the developer of ViPR™, and is an international presenter with a tremendous understanding of human movement. He also coined the concept of “loaded movement training” based on his observation of linear training, similar to traditional strength training versus three-dimensional training as found in physical efforts such as work in warehouses, on docks, or on the farm.

As Michol states:

“Loaded movement training combines task-oriented movement patterning with resistance training. Agility and strength come from moving the body in a multitude of purposeful tasks with load, just like back on the farm.”

Using a few of the same concepts on which the idea of Flexibility Highways is based, loaded movement training and functional, integrated training are superior methods of strengthening the fascial system, as these eccentrically load the fascia, load in a tri-plane manner, and remodel the tissue through various angles, paces, and loads.

In the 4Q Model, the y-axis represents the resistance or loads, with low resistance toward the bottom and heavier resistance at the top. The x-axis shows static, uniplanar movement on the left, and movement-based modalities on the right.

Figure 10.2 The 4Q Model

Most people you work with will probably start in the lower left quadrant, as this quad represents neuromuscular re-education, regressive movement patterns to gain both mobility and stability in the big movement rocks, strengthening the weak links in the entire kinetic chain, and gaining core strength. All this will improve coordination, movement efficiency, cardiovascular conditioning, and postural modification for better task development and performance.

Generally speaking, this is a more controlled, often-static activity typically used in sub-acute rehabilitation, post-rehab, and includes corrective techniques.

The upper-left quadrant, characterized by heavier resistance in a static or uniplane mode, contains the traditional methods of training and is beneficial for gains in muscle hypertrophy, increased strength in muscle, connective tissue, and fascia, stability, and the foundation necessary to build power and explosiveness. This quad usually uses slower movements to improve the tolerance of time under tension. In this quad, you can develop a micro-phase by commencing with a muscle-endurance phase, and then gradually building to the hypertrophy and anatomical-adaptation phases.

The upper-right quadrant represents heavy resistance in a movement-based, tri-plane environment. The objective in this quad is to develop the form and function that leads to the “real life” loads clients, patients, and athletes will face in the lower-right quad.

Modalities most commonly used in this quarter are Sled Dawgs, ViPR™, SandBells®, weighted vests, ActivMotion Bars, and weighted plyometrics. Using these tools increases strength and explosiveness to meet the challenges people will see in their environments.

Do not expect clients to perform a task at the pace needed in live situations. However, they should become conscious of the proper form, technique, and angles required for the task, occupation, or sport.

In this phase, stop the repetitions if technique or angles are not performed with the precision necessary to produce the greatest efficiency. In this teaching or coaching quadrant, you must be cognizant of the person’s style of learning and acceptance of constructive criticism, as precise technical learning starts taking place in this quadrant.

The lower-right quadrant is characterized as tri-plane movement in a lighter-resistance environment. This compartment runs parallel with the skill and technique layers of the Action Pyramid. Pay attention to technique, body and joint angles, and overall form. Attend to the quality of movement in the big movement rocks of the foot and ankle complex, hips, and thoracic spine, so the person can achieve a high level of competency and efficiency.

In this quad, the motor learning from the lower-left quadrant, strength from the upper-left quadrant, and explosive movement variability from the upper-right quadrant all converge to produce the highest possible performance outcome.

This is a hybrid visual of the Action Pyramid, the periodization model, and the 4Q model. The variables can change based on the person’s needs and wants, the gait and motion analysis, goals, task specificity, or sport. The components of each may vary depending on the tools and equipment you have in your facility.

By no means are any of these written in stone. They should be a living model that changes with the conditions of the client, events the athlete may have on the schedule, the changing of tasks a client must achieve, and any unforeseen event that may transpire. These are just guidelines and are limited only by your creativity.

Program design is an art based on science that should be modulated depending upon the issues at hand.

This was an excerpt from Chuck Wolf’s Insights into Functional Training, pages 151–153

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