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A COMPARISON OF TRADITIONAL AND WEEKLY

UNDULATING PERIODIZED STRENGTH TRAINING


PROGRAMS WITH TOTAL VOLUME AND
INTENSITY EQUATED
JYTTE M. APEL,1 RYAN M. LACEY,2

AND

ROBERT T. KELL1

Augustana Faculty, Department of Social Sciences, University of Alberta, Augustana Campus, Camrose,
Alberta T4V 2R3, Canada; and 2Results Training & Fitness, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

ABSTRACT
Apel, JM, Lacy, RM, and Kell, RT. A comparison of traditional
and weekly undulating periodized strength training programs
with total volume and intensity equated. J Strength Cond Res
24(x): 000000, 2010The purpose of this study was to
compare the training adaptations attained during 12 weeks
of traditional (TD) and weekly undulating (WUD) periodized
strength training. Forty-two recreationally active men (age =
22 6 2.3 years) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups:
control (C) (n = 14), TD (n = 14), or WUD (n = 14). Tenrepetition maximum (10RM) laboratory testing was carried out
for the free weight back squat and the free weight flat bench
press at baseline, week 8, and week 12. The subjects trained
3 dwk21 (approximately 135 minwk21) from weeks 1 to 2
and 4 dwk21 from week 3 to week 12 (approximately 180
minwk21). The TD and WUD groups trained using a periodized
strength program with all program variables controlled (e.g.,
volume and intensity). The independent variable was the manipulation of intensity. The TD group used a linear increase in
intensity, whereas the WUD group had a varied intensity.
The results showed that both the TD and WUD groups made
significant (p # 0.05) increases in strength at weeks 8 and 12,
but by week 12, the TD group was significantly (p # 0.05)
stronger than the WUD group. These results indicate that
TD periodization with a linear increase in intensity was more
effective at eliciting strength gains than WUD periodization with
a varied intensity. The differences in strength gains between the
TD and WUD groups may be related to extended periods of
muscle soreness and fatigue that were present in the WUD
group but not in the TD group. Thus, during long-term training,
individuals may benefit more from TD periodized programs

Address correspondence to Dr. Robert Kell, rob.kell@ualberta.ca.


0(0)/110
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
2010 National Strength and Conditioning Association

because there may be less muscle soreness and fatigue to


disrupt practice and training.

KEY WORDS weight training, linear, progressive resistance

INTRODUCTION

urrently, no consensus exists as to the ideal


strength training program design, but it typically
involves resistance training exercises, which include free weight and machine exercises, and it
is widely accepted that some form of periodization is most
effective (3,4,9,12,17). Periodization is a training scheme
where planned variations in training variables (e.g., number
of sets and repetitions, exercise order, load, and rest) are
manipulated in a manner that increases the ability of a
person to achieve specific performance goals (e.g., strength)
(4,12,13,16). It is based on the overload principle and attempts
to maximize the use of physical stress and recovery time by
manipulating volume and intensity to facilitate important
neuromuscular adaptations (10,13). Our study compares
2 primary models of periodization: (a) traditional (TD) periodization and (b) weekly undulating (WUD) periodization.
Traditional periodization (also known as linear periodization) is divided into 3 cycles. Generally, within each cycle,
there is a large initial training volume at a moderate intensity
progressing to an increase in intensity and a decrease in
volume (10,13,19). In contrast, undulating periodization relies
more on irregular manipulation of volume and intensity
across the training cycle. This type of training has short
periods of high-volume training alternated with short periods
of high-intensity training, all potentially within 1 week
(2,7,13).
Studies have compared periodized and nonperiodized
training programs, and this research has been reviewed by
Rhea and Alderman (12). However, fewer studies have
directly compared TD periodization with WUD periodization. Currently, there is debate as to which form of
periodization (TD or WUD) yields greater strength gains.
Rhea et al. (13) compared TD with daily undulating
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Comparison of Periodization Models


periodization over 12 weeks. They found that daily undulating periodization elicited a greater percentage of strength
gains. This result was attributed to the more severe alterations between volume and intensity in the daily undulating
program. A study by Buford et al. (3) compared TD periodization, daily undulating periodization, and WUD periodization. No differences in percent strength gain were noted
among the training regimes after 9 weeks of training. Finally,
Hoffman et al. (7) compared nonperiodized training, TD
periodization, and undulating periodization over 15 weeks.
The study by Hoffman et al. (7) was one of the first to use a
training frequency of 4 dwk21 rather than 3 dwk21.
Additionally, this study also used highly trained college
football athletes as participants and found no significant
difference in strength gains among groups.
The purpose of this study was to compare the training
adaptations after 12 weeks of TD and WUD periodized
strength training, thus adding to the work of Baker et al. (2),
Rhea et al. (13), Buford et al. (3), and Hoffman et al. (7). Our
study used a strength training frequency of 4 dwk21 to
provide more information regarding real world training
schedules used by moderately to highly trained athletes. In
contrast to the study by Hoffman et al. (7), our study
employed recreationally strength-trained men. This led to
larger and more significant differences between the groups
because the principle of diminishing return states that less
trained individuals will yield larger physiological gains after
shorter periods of training (6). Our hypothesis was that with
all training variables being equal, except the order of
intensity, the TD periodized weight training group would
demonstrate significantly (p # 0.05) larger strength gains
than the WUD periodization group.

METHODS
Experimental Approach to the Problem

The purpose of the study was to compare TD periodized


strength training (linear increase in intensity) with that of
WUD periodized strength training (varied intensity) in men
with previous strength training experience (17). Strength
training took the form of both free weight and machineloaded exercise movements (e.g., barbell bench press). This
study operationally defined training volume as the total
number of repetitions performed, whereas training intensity
was the amount (load in kg) lifted or repetition maximum
(RM) load used to perform a certain number of repetitions
(4). The TD and WUD groups were equated on all training
variables (e.g., sets, repetitions, and rest time), except order of
intensity. More specifically, any variation in training effect
(i.e., change in strength) associated with TD and WUD
programs would be attributable to the schedule of intensity
and not to other training variables. Also, to date, Hoffman
et al. (7) applied a 4 dwk21 periodized training regimen to
high-performance athletes, whereas Buford et al. (3) and
Rhea et al. (13) applied a 3 dwk21 periodized resistance
training regimen to detrained and resistance-trained (at least

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12 months of weight training experience) subjects, respectively. The current study added to the research of Rhea
et al. (13), Buford et al. (3), and Hoffman et al. (7) by
employing a training frequency of 4 dwk21, similar to that of
Hoffman et al. (7) but used subjects with a training status
($6-month weightlifting experience), which is between that
of Rhea et al. (13) (12-month weightlifting experience) and
Buford et al. (3) (detrained). The objective was to determine
which model of periodization was most effective at
improving strength in moderately active men with approximately 6 months of weight training experience.
Subjects

Forty-two healthy recreationally active men were recruited


from the university setting via an informational lecture to
classes and advertisements. The investigation was approved
through the Research Ethics Board University of the
University of Regina for use of human subjects. Before the
start of the study, subjects received a group orientation
consisting of a presentation outlining the reasons and goals
of the study. The subjects were informed of the possible
risks and benefits of periodized strength training and were
given the opportunity to ask questions. After the presentation, subjects read the study information letter; completed
a health screening form, the Physical Activity Readiness
Questionnaire; and signed an informed consent form. Thus,
all subjects gave their free and signed informed consent.
Potential subjects were excluded from participation if they
had a known history of metabolic, cardiovascular, or respiratory disorders. On exiting the study, the subjects results
were explained to them individually. Also, at the conclusion
of the 12-week study, the control (C) group was offered
a 12-week TD training program so that they could experience
the benefits of periodized training.
All subjects had previous weightlifting experience ($6
months [range 611 months]) using free weight and machine
resistance before the start of the study but had never been
involved in formalized periodized strength training of any
type (e.g., TD or undulating). After baseline testing, the
subjects (n = 42) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: (a)
C (n = 14): age = 22 6 2.3 years, standing height = 1.77 6
0.05 m, body mass = 75.7 6 7.1 kg, and percent body fat =
18.3 6 4.2%; (b) TD (n = 14): age = 23 6 2.8 years, standing
height = 1.78 6 0.06 m, body mass = 77.0 6 7.9 kg, and
percent body fat = 17.1 6 4.5%; and (c) WUD (n = 14): age =
22 6 1.9 years, height = 1.77 6 0.06 m, body mass = 81.8 6
9.7 kg, and percent body fat = 20.2 6 6.1%. No significant
(p # 0.05) differences in the physical characteristics were
noted among the groups at baseline. Also, there were no
significant (p # 0.05) changes in body composition (i.e., body
mass or percent body fat) found in any of the groups across
time (baseline, week 8, and week 12). Five subjects withdrew
from the study before completion (12 weeks); their data were
excluded. The subjects assigned to the C group were allowed
to maintain their current recreational activity (e.g., floor

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hockey). The WUD and TD groups were asked not to
participate in any form of prolonged ($20 minutes) aerobic
activity (i.e., cross-country skiing or running) (11). However,
the TD and WUD groups were encouraged to warm-up with
15 minutes of aerobic activity (i.e., gym cardio-equipment)
before starting their strength training sessions. This was used
to reduce the risk of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
and injury.
Procedures

General. The study consisted of 12 weeks of periodized


strength training via the use of both free weight and machine
resistance exercises. Figure shows an overview of the study
timeline. Instructions outlining proper and safe exercise technique (and illustrations) for all exercises were provided before
testing and training. The sequence of exercises was maintained throughout the study, with the first (e.g., Monday) and
third (e.g., Thursday) training sessions of each week focusing
on chest, back, triceps, and abdominal muscle groups, and
the second (e.g., Tuesday) and fourth (e.g., Friday) training
sessions focusing on leg, shoulder, biceps, and abdominal
muscle groups (Table 1). All laboratory testing sessions were
supervised and conducted by the same researchers.
Testing Sessions. There were 2 forms of testing: (a) laboratory
testing (supervised), which took place in the Exercise
Physiology Laboratory, University of Regina, at baseline,
week 8, and week 12 and (b) field testing (unsupervised),
which took place in the Fitness and Lifestyle Centre of the

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University of Regina at baseline, week 4, week 8, and week 12.


The Fitness and Lifestyle Centre is where the TD and WUD
subjects performed their workouts throughout the study.
During strength training, strength gains made before week 8
are believed to be chiefly neurological (2,4). For this reason,
our laboratory testing took place at baseline, week 8, and
week 12 to use data that reflected a combination of both
neuromuscular (2) and contractile protein remodeling
(hypertrophy) strength changes (15). The field testing
sessions were used to determine the loads (kg) for the
subjects strength training programs throughout the 12
weeks. The initial load for each exercise (Table 1) was
determined at baseline, and then, in subsequent weeks (weeks
4 and 8), the load was manipulated according to the subjects
10RM field testing results. This established new loads for the
exercises, which enabled the subjects bodies in the TD and
WUD groups to be progressively overloaded throughout
the 12 weeks. Of note, no RM testing was conducted on
abdominal exercises. The abdominal and Swiss ball crunch
exercises initially used body weight as the load; once the
subjects could complete 30 consecutive crunches, the
subjects were free to add an external load by holding
a free weight on their chest. In weeks when laboratory and
field testings occurred simultaneously (baseline, week 8, and
week 12), supervised laboratory testing was completed 2 days
before unsupervised field testing. The subjects received their
updated strength training programs on Sunday, 12 days
before starting their next strength training session.

TABLE 1. Exercise specifics.*


Exercise

Equipment

Category

3 dwk21

4 dwk21

Percent 1RM

Rest time

Flat bench press


Incline bench press
Flat bench DB fly
Back squat
Lat pull-down front
Cable machine row
DB shoulder press
Upright cable row
Leg extension
Leg curl
Triceps push-down
Seated DB arm curl
Standing calf raise
Abdominal crunches
Swiss ball crunches

Free weight
Free weight
Free weight
Free weight
Machine
Machine
Free weight
Machine
Machine
Machine
Machine
Free weight
Body weight
Body weight
Body weight

Primary
Primary
Assistance
Primary
Assistance
Assistance
Assistance
Assistance
Assistance
Assistance
Assistance
Assistance
Assistance
Core
Core

1
NA
NA
2
3
NA
4
NA
5
6
7
8
9
10
11

1, 3
1, 3
1, 3
2, 4
1, 3
1, 3
2, 4
2, 4
2, 4
2, 4
1, 3
2, 4
2, 4
14
14

5590
5590
5577
5590
5585
5585
5585
5585
5577
5577
5577
5577
5577
NA
NA

2
2
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1

*Equipment = the type of exercise equipment used for each exercise; Primary = the primary muscle recruited for each exercise
movement; 1RM = 1 repetition maximum; DB = dumbbell; Category = exercise classification: primary (multijoint or large muscle mass),
assistance (single joint or small muscle mass), or core (abdominal exercises); 3 dwk21 = a 3 day per week strength training schedule,
with the numbers indicating the order the exercises were performed in; 4 dwk21 = a 4 day per week strength training schedule; Rest =
rest time in minutes; ni = indicates the exercise was not included during the 3 day per week training schedule; NA = not applicable.

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The laboratory testing sessions were supervised and used
the same test order, equipment, warm-up, and standardized
time (between 6:00 and 9:30 PM). Anthropometric and body
composition measures included standing height, body
mass, and percent body fat. Standing height was measured
in meters using a wall mounted Stadiometer (Stadiometer.com,
Snoqualmie, WA, USA). Body mass and composition were
measured using the Tanita TBF-300 (Tanita Corp., Arlingthon
Heights, IL, USA) (bioelectric impedance) body composition
scale to the nearest 0.1 kg and 1% body fat. After the body
composition measurements, the subjects warmed up for 10
minutes on a Monark cycle ergometer (HealthCare Int.,
Seattle, WA, USA) and then proceeded to the other tests (i.e.,
back squat and bench press). The laboratory tests consisted of
10RMs on the following exercises: (a) free weight back squat to
parallel using an Olympic bar and weights and (b) free weight
flat bench press using an Olympic bar and weights. Each
10RM was determined within 4 sets, with a 3- to 4-minute rest
time between all sets and tests (1).
The researcher provided encouragement to all subjects
during the laboratory testing, in an attempt to elicit a maximal
effort. The first test was the free weight back squat to parallel,
to determine lower body strength. The subjects were taught
to perform the squat in a slow and controlled manner.
Subjects maintained a flat back, high elbows, and chest in the
up and out position. The bar was placed at the base of the neck
resting on the trapezius muscle and hands gripped the bar in
a closed overhand grip. Heels were in contact with the floor at
all times, and knees were aligned over the feet throughout the
movement. Subjects moved downward until their thighs were
parallel to the floor and then pushed back up into a standing
position, which would be considered 1 repetition.
The second test was the free weight flat bench press, to
determine upper body strength. The subjects were positioned
supine on the bench. The subjects grasped the bar with hands
approximately shoulder-width apart (or slightly wider) and
extended arms at the elbow removing the bar from the
supports. One repetition occurred when the bar was lowered
(under control) to the chest and then in a smooth motion
pushed back to the starting position by extending the elbows.
Training Programs. The duration of the study was 12 weeks
(Figure), with the specific exercises, rest time, dwk21,
intensity (percent 1RM), repetitionsset21, setsexercise21,

and weekly duration of training all listed in Tables 13.


Training weeks were 13, 57, and 911, with testing
occurring on weeks 4, 8, and 12 (as discussed previously).
Note that the program variables (e.g., rest time, exercises,
total volume, and total intensity) were the same for both
the TD and WUD groups. Both groups were exposed to
the same number of heavy workouts in each training phase,
but order of the heavy workouts was different (Table 2). The
difference between the TD and WUD training groups is
the weekly change (variation) in training intensity (percent
1RM), with the exception being the initial 3 weeks of
training, which were the same for both groups.
The initial 3 weeks (phase 1) of both the TD and WUD
periodized programs were identical and used as an anatomical
adaptation and familiarization phase, with intensity and
volume being moderate. The third week was marked by
a small increase in intensity and a larger increase in training
time (approximately 175 minwk21). Phase 2 included weeks
57 and 911 and was considered the strength phase with
intensity ranging between 73 and 90% of 1RM and training
time ranging between 165 and 195 minwk21. It is in this
strength phase that the TD and WUD programs varied in
the order (or schedule) of weekly intensity, but the average
volume and intensity were equivalent between the TD and
WUD groups (Table 2).
The TD periodized program used a gradual linear increase
in intensity from weeks 5 to 8 followed by testing in week 8
and then a gradual increase in intensity from weeks 9 to 11,
and testing in week 12 (Table 2). In contrast, the WUD
periodized program used a fixed sequence that was applied
to all WUD subjects (Table 2). Weeks 5 and 9 contained the
greatest average intensity (79 and 80% 1RM, respectively)
with the lowest average intensity found in weeks 6 and 11
(73 and 75% 1RM, respectively) and the moderate average
intensity found in weeks 7 and 11 (76 and 78% 1RM,
respectively). Also, neither the TD nor WUD periodized
program altered the training intensity within the week
(e.g., Monday 80% and Tuesday 75%); the change in intensity
was made from week to week (Table 2). For example, in
week 5, the average training intensity for each TD training
group workout was 73% 1RM, whereas the average training
intensity for the WUD training group workout was 79% 1RM
(Table 2). In week 6, the average training intensity for each
TD training group workout was 76% 1RM, whereas the

Figure. Study timeline. The study began with a briefing session and completion of the necessary paper work (e.g., signed informed consent). Baseline laboratory
testing and randomization of subjects into groups (traditional [TD], n = 14; undulating [UD], n = 14; and control [C], n = 14) followed. Training programs were
designed and provided to both training groups after baseline laboratory and field testings. Subsequent laboratory testing (body composition, bench press, and
back squat) occurred at weeks 8 and 12, whereas field testing (all other strength program exercises) took place at baseline and weeks 4, 8, and 12. The study
ended with a debriefing session in which the subjects were informed of their individual results and were able to ask questions.

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TABLE 2. Average training values for the traditional and undulating periodized training programs.*
Phase 1
Training programs

Phase 2

Phase 3

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Average

Traditional periodized
3
dwk21
Intensity (percent 1RM)
57
Duration (minwk21)
;135
Weekly undulating periodization
dwk21
3
Intensity (percent 1RM)
57
Duration (minwk21)
;135

3
57
;135

4
62
;175

4
73
;168

4
76
;180

4
79
;195

4
75
;168

4
78
;180

4
80
;195

70.7
170.1

3
57
;135

4
62
;175

4
79
;195

4
73
;168

4
76
;180

4
80
;195

4
75
;168

4
78
;180

70.7
170.1

*dwk21 = the number of training days per week; ; = approximately; Intensity = the average intensity assessed in percent of 1
repetition maximum (RM) for each week; Duration = the approximate total workout time each resistance training session; Average = the
average intensity and duration for the traditional and weekly undulating groups over the course of the study.

average training intensity for the WUD training group


workout was 73% 1RM. Thus, the TD program used a linear
increase in intensity from week to week, whereas the WUD
program used a nonlinear format.
Strength training was 3 dwk21 (i.e., Monday, Wednesday,
and Friday) in weeks 1 and 2 and 4 dwk21 in weeks 3 to 11.
The exercise order for the 3 dwk21 program is outlined in
Table 1. At baseline, all exercises associated with the 3 dwk21
program were tested in the laboratory (back squat and bench
press) and field (all other exercises). The 4 dwk21 program
was a split routine, which exercised the chest, back, triceps,
and abdominal muscles 2 dwk21 (e.g., day 1 and day 3) and
legs, shoulders, biceps, and abdominal muscles 2 dwk21 (e.g.,
day 2 and day 4). The exercise order for the split routine was
as followsdays 1 and 3: flat bench press, incline bench press,
flat bench dumbbell (DB) fly, lat pull-down front, cable
machine row, triceps pushdown, abdominal crunches, and
Swiss ball crunches; and days 2 and 4: back squat, leg
extension, leg curl, standing calf raises, upright cable row,
DB shoulder press, seated DB arm curl, abdominal crunches,
and Swiss ball crunches. Note, in week 3, the 4 dwk21 splitroutine program began, and 4 new exercises (e.g., incline
bench press) were added to the program (Table 1). The
subjects tested (unsupervised) on these new exercises in the
third week, and the exercises were added to their routines.
While completing the 4 dwk21 routine, the subjects followed
1 of 2 possible training schedules: (a) Monday (day 1),
Tuesday (day 2), Thursday (day 3), and Friday (day 4) or (b)
Tuesday (day 1), Wednesday (day 2), Friday (day 3), and
Saturday (day 4). The strength training program for both
groups is shown in Table 3, with an example of a week 1
workout session presented in Table 4. Once the subjects
selected a training schedule to follow, they were not allowed
to change the schedule until the study was complete. The
approximate weekly duration of the strength training

sessions is listed in Table 2. The primary exercises were


exercises that activated a larger muscle mass (multijoint).
Assistance exercises activated a smaller muscle mass (single
joint). Core area exercises focused on the abdominal region.
The strength training sessions were carried out at the
Fitness and Lifestyle Centre of the University of Regina,
where 2 staff members were on the workout floor at all times,
and were familiarized with the research study exercises.
All strength training exercises were performed using smooth
and controlled concentric and eccentric muscle actions.
In each strength training session, the subjects completed
a specific number of repetitions and sets depending on the
intensity for that workout session (Table 2). Thus, the load
and the number of repetitions and sets for each exercise
were dictated to the subjects throughout the study. Rest
time between sets and exercises was dependent on the type
of exercise (Table 1). The resistance machines used were
products of Atlantis Strength Equipment (Laval, Quebec,
Canada), which allowed for full range of motion and pin
adjustment of the load.
Statistical Analyses

All values were reported as mean 6 SD and percent change.


The variables of interest were back squat, flat bench, leg
extension, lat pull-down, and DB shoulder press. The
between-group (TD, WUD, and C) comparison and withingroup (across time: baseline, week 8, and week 12) comparison were made via a general linear model repeated measures
analysis of variance (ANOVA). When a significant F ratio
was achieved, post hoc comparisons were completed using
a Fishers least significant difference. Statistical power was
determined as ranging from 0.77 to 0.82 for the sample size
used with the outcome measures in this study. All differences
were considered significant at an alpha of 0.05 (p # 0.05).
Where appropriate, percent change was calculated as
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Exercise

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TD
Flat bench press
Incline bench press
Flat bench DB fly
Back squat
Lat pull-down front
Cable machine row
DB shoulder press
Upright cable row
Leg extension
Leg curl
Triceps push-down
Seated DB arm curl
Standing calf raise
WUD
Flat bench press
Incline bench press
Flat bench DB fly
Back squat
Lat pull-down front
Cable machine row
DB shoulder press
Upright cable row
Leg extension
Leg curl
Triceps push-down
Seated DB arm curl
Standing calf raise
*DB = dumbbell.

Weeks 12
Week 3
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Repetitionsset21 Repetitionsset21 Repetitionsset21 Repetitionsset21 Repetitionsset21 Repetitionsset21Repetitionsset21Repetitionset21
1012 3 4
1012 3 4
1012 3 3
1012 3 4
1012 3 3
1012 3 3
1012 3 3
1012 3 3
1012 3 3
1012 3 3
1012 3 3
1012 3 3
1012 33

610
610
810
610
810
810
810
810
810
810
810
810
810

35
35
34
35
34
34
34
34
34
34
34
34
34

610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610

34
34
32
34
32
32
32
32
32
32
32
32
32

410
410
610
410
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610

35
35
33
35
33
33
33
33
33
33
33
33
33

410 3
410 3
610 3
410 3
610 3
610 3
610 3
610 3
610 3
610 3
610 3
610 3
610 3

6
6
4
6
4
4
4
4
4
4
4
4
4

410 3 4
410 3 4
610 3 2
410 3 4
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2

410 3 5
410 3 5
610 3 3
410 3 5
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3

410 3 6
410 3 6
610 3 4
410 3 6
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4

1012
1012
1012
1012
1012
1012
1012
1012
1012
1012
1012
1012
1012

610
610
810
610
810
810
810
810
810
810
810
810
810

35
35
34
35
34
34
34
34
34
34
34
34
34

410
410
610
410
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610

36
36
34
36
34
34
34
34
34
34
34
34
34

610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610

34
34
32
34
32
32
32
32
32
32
32
32
32

410 3
410 3
610 3
410 3
610 3
610 3
610 3
610 3
610 3
610 3
610 3
610 3
610 3

5
5
3
5
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3

410 3 6
410 3 6
610 3 4
410 3 6
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4
610 3 4

410 3 4
410 3 4
610 3 2
410 3 4
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2
610 3 2

410 3 5
410 3 5
610 3 3
410 3 5
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3
610 3 3

34
34
33
34
33
33
33
33
33
33
33
33
33

Comparison of Periodization Models

6
TABLE 3. Traditional and weekly undulating periodized training programs.*

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TABLE 4. An example of a week 1 Monday workout session with fictitious loads.*


Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

Exercises

Repetitions

Load

Repetitions

Load

Repetitions

Load

Flat bench press


Back squat
Lat pull-down front
DB shoulder press
Leg extension
Leg curl
Triceps push-down
Seated DB arm curl
Standing calf raise
Abdominal crunches
Swiss ball crunches

12
12
12
12
12
12
12
12
12
NA
NA

27
59
32
12
57
36
30
7
89
NA
NA

12
12
10
10
10
10
10
10
10
NA
NA

34
70
39
14
68
43
36
9
107
NA
NA

10
10
10
10
10
10
10
10
10
NA
NA

36
77
39
14
68
43
36
9
107
NA
NA

*Abdominal crunch and Swiss ball crunch exercises were not part of testing; the overload was progressed gradually at the discretion
of each subject. The load used in this example training program is fictitious. Repetitions = repetitions to be completed on each exercises
in each set; Load = the amount of weight, in kg, for each exercise in each set; DB = dumbel; NA = not applicable.

follows: (posttest mean 2 pretest mean)/(pretest mean) 3


100. A Levenes test for homogeneity of variances was
used on each dependent variable during the ANOVA, and

homogeneity of variance was found. Intraclass correlations


(ICCs) between baseline and week 12 were conducted on the
C group data to determine test-retest reliability (18).

TABLE 5. Changes in muscular strength.*


Baseline (mean 6 SD)
Back squat (kg)
TD
WUD
C
Flat bench press (kg)
TD
WUD
C
Leg extension (kg)
TD
WUD
C
Lat pull-down (kg)
TD
WUD
C
DB shoulder press (kg)
TD
WUD
C

Week 8 (mean 6 SD)

Week 12 (mean 6 SD)

79.5 (15.0)
81.8 (19.0)
75.0 (25.9)

108.8 (17.3)
99.9 (18.9)
Nt

122.1 (15.6)k
109.4 (16.7)
78.2 (24.3)

66.1 (11.1)
62.2 (12.3)
61.4 (15.5)

74.6 (10.9)
70.3 (11.6)
Nt

81.9 (10.7)k
73.8 (11.1)
33.33

55.7 (15.9)
59.5 (14.3)
61.6 (12.3)

71.9 (16.2)
71.3 (15.1)
Nt

77.6 (14.7)
75.6 (14.1)
64.6 (13.2)

60.0 (9.7)
56.2 (9.5)
61.6 (8.9)

69.9 (8.8)
63.1 (9.1)
Nt

77.3 (8.6)k
67.1 (8.9)
63.5 (8.7)

17.0 (5.4)
16.5 (5.2)
15.4 (4.5)

20.9 (4.5)
19.8 (4.7)
Nt

25.1 (4.7)
22.5 (4.5)
17.2 (4.9)

*TD = traditional periodized training group (n = 14); WUD = weekly undulating periodized training group (n = 14); C = control group
(n = 14); Nt = no test was completed at that time point; DB = dumbbell. The TD and WUD periodized training groups were significantly
(p # 0.05) stronger than the C group at week 12 on all strength tests except lat pull-down.
Indicates a significant (p # 0.05) increase in strength within group from baseline to week 8.
Indicates a significant (p # 0.05) increase in strength within group from baseline to week 12.
Indicates a significant (p # 0.05) increases in strength within group from week 8 to week 12.
k
Indicates a significant (p # 0.05) difference between TD and WUD periodized training groups at week 12.

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Comparison of Periodization Models


RESULTS
Within-Group Muscular Strength

The ICC conducted on the C group data (baseline and week


12) indicated a mean of 0.92 for test-retest reliability on squat,
bench press, leg extension, lat pull-down, and DB shoulder
press exercises. Initially, significant (p # 0.05) increases in
muscular strength (i.e., back squat, flat bench press, leg
extension, lat pull-down, and DB shoulder press) were noted
from baseline to week 8 in both the TD and WUD groups
(Table 5). The C group was not measured at week 8 and did
not show a significant (p # 0.05) change in muscular strength
from baseline to week 12 (Table 5). Both the TD and WUD
groups showed significant (p # 0.05) improvements in
muscular strength for back squat (TD = 54%; WUD = 34%),
flat bench press (TD = 24%; WUD = 19%), leg extension
(TD = 47%; WUD = 34%), lat pull-down (TD = 28%;
WUD = 19%), and DB shoulder press from (TD = 28%;
WUD = 19%) baseline to week 12 (Table 5). Interestingly,
the TD group showed a significant (p # 0.05) increase in
muscular strength from week 8 to week 12 for back squat,
flat bench press, lat pull-down, and DB shoulder press but
not for leg extension (Table 5). Moreover, the WUD group
did not show a significant (p # 0.05) improvement in
muscular strength over the same period on any exercise.
In summary, when within-group comparisons were conducted, it became evident that the TD group made many
significant (p # 0.05) improvements from week 8 to week 12,
whereas the WUD groups improvements were marginal.
Between-Group Muscular Strength

No significant (p # 0.05) differences in muscular strength


were noted at baseline among any of the groups (TD, WUD,
and C). Similar strength gains were found at week 8 between
TD and WUD groups (Table 5). As expected, at week 12,
both TD and WUD training groups were significantly (p #
0.05) stronger than the C group on all strength tests.
However, on 3 of 5 strength tests, the TD periodized strength
training group had greater increases in strength at week 12
than the WUD training group (Table 5). The TD group
showed a significantly (p # 0.05) greater improvement in
strength as compared with the WUD group for back squat,
flat bench press, and lat pull-down but not for the leg
extension or DB shoulder press. However, the TD group was
stronger than the WUD group on the leg extension and
DB shoulder press exercises. Accordingly, the TD group
demonstrated significantly (p # 0.05) greater improvements
in strength by week 12 as compared with the WUD group.
The primary finding was that both TD and WUD groups
showed similar increases in strength at week 8, but by week
12, the TD group had made larger strength gains than the
WUD group.

DISCUSSION
The purpose of this study was to determine whether TD
or WUD periodized strength training would elicit greater

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strength gains over 12 weeks of training on previously weighttrained ($6 months) men. The independent variable was the
order of weekly intensity (i.e., heavy load) for TD vs. WUD
periodized programs. Total volume and intensity were
equated between the groups to establish if any difference in
training effect were the result of the order of intensity used
by the different training groups (TD vs. WUD). The present
study is one of a few to use a 4 dwk21 (from week 3 to
week 11) training schedule because most studies have used
a 3 dwk21 schedule. The 4 dwk21 schedule is more similar
to that used by athletes (e.g., football players) in their
development of strength and provides a higher number of
training minwk21 (approximately 180 minwk21 in weeks
4211). The most important finding of this study was that
there were no significant (p # 0.05) differences in strength
between the TD and WUD groups between week 1 and
week 8, but by week 12, the TD group was significantly
(p # 0.05) stronger than the WUD group. The TD group
increased strength by an average of 38.6% from baseline to
week 12, whereas the WUD group increased strength by an
average of 26.9%. Thus, TD periodized strength training
was more successful at increasing muscular strength by
week 12 than was WUD periodized program.
Moreover, comparing the current study with other
periodized strength training studies is not straightforward.
More specifically, 4 studies compared TD (linear) periodized
strength training with that of undulating periodized strength
training (2,3,7,13). Baker et al. (2), Buford et al. (3), and
Hoffman et al. (7) found no significant (p # 0.05) differences
between the periodization models in the development of
strength. In contrast, Rhea et al. (13) found that undulating
periodization was significantly (p # 0.05) more effective at
developing muscular strength than was linear periodization,
whereas the present study found that TD periodization
was more effective than undulating periodization in the
development of strength.
Baker et al. (2), Buford et al. (3), and the present study all
equated the training volume between the groups. It was
believed that equating the training volume was the best way
to fairly compare the training regimes. However, Rhea et al.
(13) and Hoffman et al. (7) did not equate training volume,
indicating that under real training conditions, the training
volume would not be the same between the TD linear and
undulating programs. Which is a more appropriate method
of comparison is up to the reader, but all of the studies
provide important information.
Another important difference among these studies pertains
to the undulating periodized program. The studies of Buford
et al. (3), Hoffman et al. (7), and Rhea et al. (13) used daily
undulating periodization, meaning that within each week,
there were large changes in intensity from workout to
workout (e.g., from Rhea et al.: day 1 = 3 sets 8RM, day 2 = 3
sets 6RM, and day 3 = 3 sets 4RM). The current study and
one of the groups in the Buford et al. (3) study used WUD
periodization. Weekly undulating specifies that within a week,

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the intensity (percent 1RM) was relatively consistent from
workout to workout, but the intensity changed (undulated)
dramatically from week to week and not in a progressively
increasing manner. The Buford et al. (3) and Rhea et al. (13)
studies used 3 dwk21 training schedule, whereas the current
study and Hoffman et al. (7) used a 4 dwk21 training
schedule. The present study and the Rhea et al. (13) studies
used subjects with previous strength training experience
(.6 months), whereas Hoffman et al. (7) used well-trained
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division
III college football players. Based on the array of similarities
and differences between the undulating periodized strength
programs, caution must be used when comparing the results
from these various studies.
Thus, the variation in results among these studies is likely
related to some combination of total training volume (e.g.,
days per week), weight training experience, or weekly vs. daily
undulating models or all. The current study used a 4 dwk21
schedule and found that TD periodization was superior in
the development of strength to that of WUD periodization,
whereas Baker et al. (2) and Buford et al. (3) used a 3 d.wk21
training schedule and found no significant (p # 0.05)
difference between the different forms of periodization
(including WUD). Rhea et al. (13) found that daily
undulating periodization was more effective than linear
periodization using a 3 dwk21 schedule, which is opposite
to the results of the present study. Rhea et al. (13) and
the current study both used subjects with similar levels of
weight training experience, with the difference between the
studies being that of training volume and weekly vs. daily
undulation. The difference in the results may lie in the weekly
vs. daily undulation of the periodized program and number
of training days per week or both.
The present studys results propose that from baseline
to week 8, both TD and WUD periodized groups showed
significant increases in muscular strength for all strength tests,
with no significant (p # 0.05) difference in strength noted
between the groups. Similar increases in strength from
baseline to approximately week 8 using various forms of
periodization have been found (2,3,7,10). Interestingly, other
studies comparing periodized with nonperiodized strength
training have also found similar results, indicating no
significant difference in strength between periodized and
nonperiodized groups up to week 8 (4,19). Although the
present study used recreationally active men with $6-month
resistance training experience, many other studies have
shown similar conclusions using a variety of subjects.
Previous studies have used competitive athletes (2,7), people
with no prior strength training experience (12), women
(3,10,12), and a variety of ages (12). Regardless of these
differences among the studies, the results indicate that in
the initial weeks of strength training (up to approximately
8 weeks), the type of strength training program (e.g., TD
periodized, undulating periodized, or nonperiodized)
may not be an important factor in inducing strength gains

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for a variety of populations (e.g., moderately trained or


detrained).
The initial strength improvements are likely attributable
to neural adaptation, which is the predominant cause of
increased strength during the first few weeks of strength
training (18 weeks), especially in persons with low to
moderate training experience (2,4,7,10). However, in the
present study, by week 12, the TD group had significantly
(p # 0.05) greater strength than the WUD group on 3 (i.e.,
back squat, flat bench press, and lat pull-down) of 5 tests.
Therefore, TD periodized training outperformed WUD
periodized training between week 8 and week 12. Keep
in mind that the single difference between the TD and
WUD programs was the ordering of intensity (e.g., of heavy
workouts). The week-to-week order of intensity is known to
influence muscular strength via neural adaptation (5,8,14).
This suggests that to elicit strength increases, the choice of
training model may become important at some point after
week 8, and it may be related to the week-to-week order of
intensity.
It should be noted that after the early weeks of strength
training (approximately 8 weeks), gradual increases in
hypertrophic factors are believed to be associated with
increases in strength (25,10,15). However, hypertrophy
could not be verified in the present study because there
were no significant (p # 0.05) changes in body composition
(i.e., bioelectrical impedance analysis) in either the TD or
WUD group from week 8 to week 12 or from baseline to
week 12. The inability to substantiate hypertrophic changes
may have been related to the assessment method and might
have been detectible with other more sensitive assessment
methods (15).
Another factor that may have influenced the findings of the
present study was that subjects in the WUD group reported
higher levels of extended DOMS and fatigue throughout
the 12-week study than did the TD group. The increase in
DOMS was also noted in weeks 1012 of the daily undulating
groups in the study by Rhea et al. (13). Interestingly, during
this period (weeks 612), there were no differences in
strength gains between the groups, in contrast to the initial
6 weeks where the daily undulating group demonstrated
greater strength gains than the TD periodized strength
training group (13). Examining why DOMS was associated
more with the undulating programs was beyond the scope of
these studies, but heightened DOMS may have interfered
with both training and testing and thus overall strength gains
in the WUD group.
Similar to the present study, Hoffman et al. (7) examined
the effects of 4 dwk21 nonperiodized, TD periodized, and
undulating periodized strength training schedules on highly
trained NCAA football players. In contrast, Hoffman et al. (7)
reported no DOMS in their article and found that there was
no significant difference in strength gains among the different
training models. Given that the training schedules (4 dk21)
were similar to the present study, the difference in results
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might be attributable to differences in level of training of the
subjects. The highly trained athletes in the study by Hoffman
et al. (7) may have been accustomed to the rigors of
a 4 dwk21 undulating training schedule and, as such, did
not experience any significant DOMS. Consequently, the
training experience of the athletes may to some extent dictate
the threshold for training volume with undulating program
but not for TD linear program.
In conclusion, the present studys findings indicate that
both TD and WUD periodized training groups made similar
strength gains from baseline to week 8. However, between
week 8 and week 12, the TD group outperformed the WUD
group making significantly larger improvements in strength.
The fact that the WUD group experienced more extended
DOMS and fatigue than the TD group may have negatively
affected the WUD groups ability to perform strength training
and testing, resulting in reduced strength gains by week 12.
Also, some variance in the results of this study vs. previous
periodized strength training research may have resulted from
the increased training time (minwk21), frequency (dwk21),
and background (i.e., training experience) of the subjects.
Therefore, comparison of results across periodized strength
training studies must be conducted carefully.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
Subjects who underwent periodization strength training did
not show significant changes in body mass or composition
over the 12-week study, but strength significantly increased
over the same period. Thus, the use of periodized strength
training, more so the TD model, may be effective at
improving strength while maintaining body mass. If strength
can be improved while body mass is maintained, strength
relative to body mass (relative strength) should be increased.
In weight class sports such as wrestling and boxing, it is
beneficial to have high relative strength because it generally
increases the likelihood of being stronger than an opponent,
which is a competitive advantage.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We would like to thank the Fitness and Lifestyle Centre at the
University of Regina for their support of this research project,
in particular Mrs. Karen Fahlman, Manager.

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