Its been a while!! 

Ok, for my first blog post of my postgraduate career........ here's a little review of the linear approach to training vs conjugate, two training styles found in fitness and bodybuilding...... take a look!! 


Although there are several differing views of the ‘perfect’ training strategy in regards to periodised training vs non periodised training, Linear Periodization has been long regarded as the quintessential approach to any strength training plan and in many researches , significantly more effective than non-periodization plans in increasing strength and power in both genders (Kraemer et al. 2003.; Marx et al. 2001.; Rhea & Alderman 2004.; Willoughby 1993.), with studies also indicating that periodised programs can often  result in increased lean body mass , general motor performance and greater decreases in percent body fat (Fleck 1999). 

This has also been met with criticisms however, with several authors noting that there are no added advantages compared with other training strategies (Strohacker et al 2015; Harries, Lubans and Callister 2016) and that abilities after linear can diminish in as little as four weeks (Rhea et al 2003). Therefore, the main argument against linear periodization is that athletes can respond to stimulus regardless of linear periodization or non-linear. Coaches also argue that the concepts of linear periodization are best suited to novice athletes, and that differing approaches such as the conjugate method could suit more advanced athletes.

The conjugate style approach of training differs from that of linear periodization, with the development of one specific ability whilst maintaining other abilities with maintenance loads, allowing for adaptation whilst preventing fatigue (Abbott 2016). Ideally the conjugate approach to training would achieve a super compensation effect, strengthening functional potentials and motor abilities and to actively recover (Ozolin 1971). This model of periodization also involves shocking the body out of a state of stagnation (Siff 2002). This model of periodisation involves phases of sharp or concentrated loading to achieve a specific training purpose or to shock the body out of a state of stagnation or habituation. The scientists advocating this method understand sudden increases in the rate of loading are potentially riskier, but they never recommend such regimes without careful considerations of the state of preparedness of each individual athlete.

Criticisms of the conjugate system are that of the dangers of overtraining if the correct exercise selection and sequence are not met, these levels of fatigue could necessitate an unloading period that the coach must consider. Also, coaches must consider the wellbeing and preparedness of his athlete, as increasing the loading could be potentially riskier to the athlete’s health (Siff 2003).

It must be said however that there is no absolute right answer in the best approach, but using the principles within linear and conjugate methods can be helped to adapt an athlete to their training goals (Abbott 2016). The author would also like to recommend that due to review of both linear and non-linear, the body of research suggests that linear periodisation would be best suited to novices who have only been exposed to strength training for a short time, whilst other training styles such as the conjugate method are best suited to intermediate or advanced athletes, building on Bompa’s (1993) ideology of simplistic training for novices and introducing heavier cycles on the more advanced athlete.  Both styles should consider athletes age, career length, principles of current training, sport, strengths and weaknesses and goals that the athlete would like to achieve.




Abbott, C. Application of periodisation models for athletes of different standards, a practical approach Aust. Strength Cond. 24(1)80-91. 2016.

Bompa, T. Power training for sport. Coaching association of Canada, 1993.

Fleck, S.J. Periodised Strength Training: A Critical Review, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 13(1) 82-89, 1999.

Harries, Simon K., David R. Lubans and Robin Callister. Comparison of resistance training progression models on maximal strength in sub elite adolescent rugby union players. Journal of science and medicine in sport 19.2 (2016): 163-169.

Kraemer, W.J. A Series of Studies - The physiological basis for strength training in American football: Fact over philosophy. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 11:131-142, 1997

Ozolin, N.G. (1971). Athletes training  system for competition: A.P. Bondarchuk, et al. The role and sequence of using different training-load intensities. Fitness and Sports Review International. 202-204. 1994.

Rhea, M. W. Phillips, L. Burkett, W. Stone, S. Ball, B. Alvar and A. Thomas. A comparison of linear and daily undulating periodised programs with equated volume and intensity for local muscular endurance. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 82–87. 2003

Siff , M.C : Supertraining 6th ed. Supertraining Institute 2003.

Siff, M.C: Facts and fallacies of fitness 5th Ed. Supertraining Institute, 2002.

Strohacker, Kelley et al. The Use of Periodization in exercise prescriptions for inactive adults: A systematic review. Preventative medicine reports 2015 385-396.

Willoughby, D.S. The effect of meso-cycle length weight training programs involving periodisation and partially equated volumes on upper and lower body strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning 7:2-8, 1993.

Published by Nathan Barnes