Modern Trends in Periodization

Last week I began to analyze and compare different periodization methods by looking at the pros and cons of both Matveyev’s traditional periodization and Verkhoshansky’s block periodization. To finish this discussion I take a look at two more modern approaches: complex periodization and Bondarchuk’s periodization.


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8 replies
  1. Jeff Boele
    Jeff Boele says:

    Derek (and anyone else),

    Fantastic read! I really appreciate you putting this information out there in an easily digestible format.

    I work with a variety of track and field athletes – speed/power to endurance – at a variety of abilities – beginner to elite junior. I have recently begun evaluating the merits of different “systems” as I found myself somewhat stuck in certain methods. This has become problematic, as you article somewhat eludes to, for athletes that shade to the elite side of the spectrum where competition can be more frequent or a surprise (making a national team). Because of these issues and a desire to have a diverse approach to developing athletes, I appreciate you pointing out the pros and cons for these concepts.

    A question:

    I am wondering if you have heard or seen the Bondarchuk system employed for an endurance athlete? I am just starting to understand the concepts (your article here is greatly helping the process), but with my limited understanding it seems there may be more difficulty in administering the Bondarchuk model to endurance athletes. This due to lack of “technical” work and the ability to really diversify the daily structure due to certain metabolic demands. I may be limiting myself with my understanding, but from a surface presentation, that is my perception.

    Thanks again for sharing and any insight you can offer is appreciated.


    • Martin Bingisser
      Martin Bingisser says:

      I’ll chime in here and start with a few general comments on periodization. I wrote last week about Nick Bourne’s dissertation which actually focused mostly on middle-distance and distance training. Matveyev’s model is seen as integral in the evolution of periodization there and in general periodization concepts up until recently were seen to apply the same to all sports with narrow tailoring required. Lydiard’s training was around before Matveyev had a big influence on western training, but has many common elements: it proceeds through stages that are increasingly more specific. Rather than moving from general to specific exercises, the training goes from specific to more specific. For example with Lydiard you start with base conditioning, do hill training, then bring it all together. All are fairly specific work in the grand scheme of things. There is no phase without running, for example, while among throwers at the time many would not throw during the offseason.

      In regards to Bondarchuk, to my knowledge he has not coached any elite endurance athletes and I do not know of anyone adapting the ideas currently. However he has thought about the topic and written about it and I think it could be applicable. His transfer of training book discusses transfer for endurance events and he has looked at the topic in his periodization books too. In the end all periodization comes back to transfer of training. You want to have an annual plan that will transfer the most to your results on the track or field. In some sports this means that the workload includes year-round specific training (complex/Bondarchuk method described above) since there is less transfer from general work/traditional approach. The Bondarchuk method outlined here is a high-level overview of his most common method for throwers and power athletes, but like power athletes endurance athletes need specific work year round and it could be applied in that sense. This is also the simplest description of it, the same method can easily be implemented in different ways for different events (i.e. rather than repeating the same session, you can alternate two sessions which would allow for some changes in volume and intensity and exercises). Also, other methods can be used for other sports…he is not tied to his own method. How you would periodize throwing vs. gymnastics vs. weightlifting vs. running would be different. He would even recommend the other methods outlined here in certain sports and has written about them. As an outsider I think year-round loads of all types of exercises makes sense in distance running too, but I don’t have experience there and would have to defer to those more knowledgable in distance training.

      But the common theme of what he would use in a sport comes down to two points: (1) analyze the sport to see what works best, and (2) the individual adaptation process is at the center of it all. Different exercises, different volumes, and different intensities may be used, but these are focused on the particular sport and the time at which things are changed is individualized. These rules of adaptation don’t change and I don’t think many people would argue with that.

  2. Derek Evely
    Derek Evely says:

    Hi Jeff. thanks for the kind words re: the post. People ask me this all of the time. To start, let’s not forget that both the Tschiene model and the Bondarchuk model will work for endurance athletes, so you have a choice. but your question is regarding the Bondarchuk model so I will answer that specifically.

    The Bondarchuk model can be done for endurance athletes and in fact it works quite well, but you have to get your head around a few things first. One, your micros are not going to look like a thrower’s (i.e. you are not going to do specific work 10x per week). You are going to do probably 2-3 specific sessions in a micro.

    Second, if you have flexibility around your micro set up then you are at an advantage. By this I mean “can you work off of a 3, 4, or 5 day micro?” If so, the structure makes it easier to accommodate loads and reach peak condition faster. 7 day micros are fine, but I find smaller ones easier to manage.

    so, let’s say you are an 800m runner and you work off a 4 day micro. and you want to hit 2 specific sessions in that micro (you could hit 3 if you trained 2x per day). Then you could set it up as follows (assuming training 1x / per day):

    Day 1:
    SDE: low volume hill running session over short distances.
    CE: Speed Endurance session.
    SPE: 1 “global” weight room exercise (squat / step up”, etc…)
    GPE: MB circuit, followed by easy 20min run.

    Day 2:
    SDE: extensive bounding routine.
    CE: extensive tempo session (for recovery)
    SPE: upper body weight room exercise (e.g. bench press)
    GPE: general strength circuit, followed by 15 min easy run

    Day 3:
    SDE: low volume accelerations with light sleds
    CE: specific endurance workout
    SPE: 1 “global” lift (olympic variation, different from exercise chosen for day 1
    GPE: 30min easy run

    Day 4:
    Off or easy run.

    you just keep rolling this exact cycle over and over again and track measurables (workout times). when the athlete has hit peak condition it is time to change. In my estimation this would take 1.5 – 2 months. Then you would prescribe a similar cycle structure but change the exercises and workouts. In the next cycle the focus of the specific work might be maximal speed or another form of special endurance…. up to you and dependant upon where you are in your yearly calendar and you metabolic needs.

    I hope this helps.

  3. Jeff Boele
    Jeff Boele says:

    Martin and Derek,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond with thoughts and examples. That helps me start to wrap my mind around the method and potential application. It looks like a book purchase will be in order… I’m just going to wait a bit as I have a stack that I am working through after a trip to the WAC in Phoenix.

    Thanks again,



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