Background: Periodization is a logical method of organizing training into sequential phases and cyclical time periods in order to increase the potential for achieving specific performance goals while minimizing the potential for overtraining. Periodized resistance training plans are proposed to be superior to non-periodized training plans for enhancing maximal strength.
Objective: The primary aim of this study was to examine the previous literature comparing periodized resistance training plans to non-periodized resistance training plans and determine a quantitative estimate of effect on maximal strength.
Methods: All studies included in the meta-analysis met the following inclusion criteria: (1) peer-reviewed publication; (2) published in English; (3) comparison of a periodized resistance training group to a non-periodized resistance training group; (4) maximal strength measured by 1-repetition maximum (1RM) squat, bench press, or leg press. Data were extracted and independently coded by two authors. Random-effects models were used to aggregate a mean effect size (ES), 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and potential moderators.
Results: The cumulative results of 81 effects gathered from 18 studies published between 1988 and 2015 indicated that the magnitude of improvement in 1RM following periodized resistance training was greater than non-periodized resistance training (ES = 0.43, 95% CI 0.27-0.58; P < 0.001). Periodization model (β = 0.51; P = 0.0010), training status (β = -0.59; P = 0.0305), study length (β = 0.03; P = 0.0067), and training frequency (β = 0.46; P = 0.0123) were associated with a change in 1RM. These results indicate that undulating programs were more favorable for strength gains. Improvements in 1RM were greater among untrained participants. Additionally, higher training frequency and longer study length were associated with larger improvements in 1RM.
Conclusion: These results suggest that periodized resistance training plans have a moderate effect on 1RM compared to non-periodized training plans. Variation in training stimuli appears to be vital for increasing maximal strength, and longer periods of higher training frequency may be preferred.
Keywords: Bench Press; Maximal Strength; Resistance Training; Training Volume; Untrained Individual.