In season strength and power training is crucial for preventing reductions in performance variables such as sprinting and jumping as the season trudges on. Traditional periodization models typically progress from a volume-phase (accumulation) to a strength phase (transmutation) and concluding with a power phase (realization). More recently, some research suggests that non-periodized training that uses exercise’s (e.g., jump squats) fixed at the optimum power load may be equal to or superior to periodized training for enhancing performance. The optimum power load is the load that maximizes power output and is measured with a tool capable of measuring barbell velocity such as a linear position transducer. However, at present, it is unclear how training exclusively at the optimal power load compares with traditional periodization schemes for maintaining or improving performance in professional team-sport athletes.
A new study published ahead of print in the International Journal of Sports Medicine tested the performance effects of each of the above mentioned training models in 23 professional soccer players throughout a 6-week in-season phase. The players were randomly allocated to a traditional periodization group or an optimum power load group. Both groups trained 3 times per week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The traditional periodization group progressed training intensity and reduced volume for the back squat in the first 4 weeks (i.e., hypertrophy and strength training) and then performed jump squats with 30% of 1RM through weeks 5 and 6 (i.e., power training). The optimum power load group performed 6 sets of 6 in the jump squat at each session. Before and after the training intervention, all players were tested in 1RM back squat, countermovement jump height, change of direction speed, maximum mean propulsive velocity in the jump squat and sprinting speed.
Statistical analysis showed that both training interventions resulted in similar significant improvements in 1RM squat, countermovement jump height and change of direction speed. While both groups significantly improved sprinting speed, the optimum power load group saw greater increases in 10 and 20 m split times. Additionally, the optimum power load group saw larger improvements in mean propulsive power during the jump squat. Therefore, it would appear that in-season training focusing on jump-squats performed at the optimum power load provides similar (and in some cases superior) results to traditional periodization regimens.
Loturco, I., Nakamura, F. Y., Kobal, R., Gil, S., Pivetti, B., Pereira, L. A., & Roschel, H. (2016). Traditional Periodization versus Optimum Training Load Applied to Soccer Players: Effects on Neuromuscular Abilities. International Journal of Sports Medicine.