With so many training protocols out there, it’s hard to separate the strength-builders from the time-wasters. And while it’s important to note that each program has its own specific benefit, and that no one approach is perfect for everyone, it’s vital to stay consistent rather than “program hopping.”
Searching for a new technique? One tried-and-true programming method is called block training.
Block training periodization is very similar in nature to the Western model in that the training is broken down into a series of phases geared towards improving one specific element of performance. The major difference is the component of each block or phase. In the Western periodization model, the training is very similar from person to person. The athlete progresses from hypertrophy to strength to power in a systematized fashion. With block training, each phase of training is geared towards the respective lifter and his or her strengths or weaknesses.
There are three phases in block training”
Accumulation: A period of high volume and low intensity when the lifter develops more muscle size and forms the foundation for the rest of his or her training.
Transmutation: The intensity increases while volume decreases. This phase focuses more on the specific abilities the lifter wishes to develop. For instance, someone looking to gain size may incorporate areas to build up weaker parts of the body. Powerlifters gear this block towards improving their three main lifts. The components of this phase are completely dependent on the lifter.
Realization: The peaking phase when the athlete reaches top performance or conditioning. The volume is low to allow the body to recover, but the intensity is high to get the body into the highest level of fitness possible. For athletes, this phase would lead right upto the playoffs and ultimately a championship game. For bodybuilders, this would be the few weeks leading up to a show. For the average lifter, this phase could be used to hit a high point of training before a vacation or a planned off week.
The benefits of block training
Similar to the Western model, block training offers the lifter a set method of progression to improve any aspect of performance. The main benefit is the workouts can be tailored to fit two completely different goals.
Two lifters can follow the block training model yet have very different workouts. By laying out the three phases of training, the block training method lays the groundwork but still allows ample room for training manipulations.