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Block Periodization: Definition, Types, Uses, and Examples

What is Block Periodization?

Block periodization organizes an athlete’s long-term training into distinct blocks, each focusing on a specific objective. The three primary types of blocks are accumulation (more broadly focused on increasing fitness), transmutation (converting fitness into sport-specific abilities), and realization (maximizing performance for a specific event or competition).

A Deeper Look at Block Periodization

The basic premise behind block periodization is to segment a long-term training plan into individual phases. This allows coaches and their athletes to focus more effectively on fewer things and make more significant progress. 

When sequenced correctly, each block builds upon the previous one, allowing athletes to achieve peak performance at the right time, such as for a competition.

The three categories of blocks used in this type of periodization are:

1. Accumulation

This block aims to improve work capacity, build muscle, and help athletes develop a general base of strength, power, and endurance. This phase typically has higher training volumes and less emphasis on high-intensity work, such as lifting 80+% of 1RM.

For example, a powerlifter in this phase might train at a lower intensity (say, 55-70% of 1RM), do more reps, take shorter breaks, do more exercises, and not focus as much on the big three.

2. Transmutation

This phase builds on the previous one by allowing athletes to turn the fitness adaptations they’ve gained into sport-specific skills. Here, athletes move away from high-volume training and introduce more specific practices that help them perform better in their sport.

Using powerlifters as an example again, this would mean removing or limiting movements not directly related to the big three and primarily focusing on the squat, bench, deadlift, and close variations.

It also means training at a higher intensity (typically 75-90% of 1RM) and taking longer breaks between sets.

3. Realization

This is also known as the competition or peaking phase and is where athletes become even more specific with their training practices and pay more attention to fatigue management to peak for a specific event.

A realization phase is often called a taper because athletes must reduce their training volume and might even lower their intensity a bit. This reduces fatigue and helps create supercompensation, leading to peak performance.

For a powerlifter, that usually means reducing the number of total sets while continuing to lift heavy weights.

The realization block is typically shorter than the other two. It can be as short as 7-10 days (short taper if fatigue isn’t too high) or up to three weeks (long taper when fatigue is higher).

The Benefits of Block Periodization

The great thing about block periodization is that it segments training into distinct phases, allowing athletes to focus on fewer things. 

Doing so often leads to better results, and, apart from accumulation phases, trainees don’t spend much time on general activities that may not benefit their athletic performance when it matters.

Another benefit is that block periodization is quite flexible. Athletes can alternate between the accumulation and realization phases, and the duration of each can vary. 

The training variables can be adjusted based on the athlete’s performance and feedback and in response to unforeseen circumstances, such as an injury or changes in competition dates.

Plus, block periodization is an excellent model to use when planning resistance training protocols for sports players (e.g., basketball, football, or tennis). The individual mesocycles can be planned to align with the athlete’s sport-specific training.


1. Who is block periodization best for?

Block periodization is great for intermediate and advanced trainees looking to improve their performance. It can also be used to organize the training of athletes like swimmers, runners, cyclists, and those participating in team sports.

2. How long should individual blocks last?

Blocks should generally last between three and six weeks, but shorter or longer can also work depending on the context. Realization phases are typically shorter, ranging from one to three weeks.

Related Terms in Periodization and Planning Category