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Conjugate Block Periodization Periodization For Wushu Athletes

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Conjugate Block Periodization Periodization For Wushu Athletes

Strength and Conditioning Series for Wushu Athletes

A well-structured training plan is one of the most important tools necessary for the improvement of athletic development. One can ask, what makes an athlete successful? I strongly believe there are 3 major concepts that make an athlete be successful: (1) Technique, (2) the athlete’s physiology, and (3) the athletes psychological profile.  This is what I call the “Successful Athlete Triad” (Figure 1). In this series of articles I will try to explain to you a basic, yet very effective way plan and structure (periodize) your Wushu training sessions.

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The conjugate block periodization is a training plan developed by Olympic coach and the developer of the plyometric exercises Dr. Verkhoshansky. There many ways to develop a periodization plan, but I feel this is the easiest and most effective plan, at least the one I use a lot.

A training plan (Macrocycle) is divided into different phases or blocks (also called Mesocycles). Then each training block (Mesocycle) is divided into a training week (Microcycle). There are 3 primary blocks and 1 competitive or testing block. Each Block is also given a key biomotor ability (Maximal Strength, Power, or Speed) to develop while we maintain all of the other biomotor abilities (Specific endurance, flexibility, technique, etc.).

The 3 major training blocks used on this type of periodization are: (1) Accumulation, (2) Transmutation, and (3) Realization. In the first block “Accumulation”, we will accumulate physical stress through maximal strength exercises (maximal strength and hypertrophy) along with many technique (Wushu) repetitions (volume) while maintaining our other physical capabilities (Power, Speed, Endurance, etc.). This block can last between 2 to 6 weeks. As we move to the second block, our primary focus now shifts to “Power” development (i.e. Plyometric, Olympic lifts), while our secondary focus again is technique, maximal strength, speed, endurance, etc. This block lasts between 2-4 weeks. Lastly, in our last block we move into “Speed” development (sprints, fast movements with weapons, fast Wushu training sessions etc.), while we maintain our technique, maximal strength, power, endurance, etc.

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     If we take all the variables illustrated in figure 2, we can design a small 10-week training sample in figure 3. Block 1 (Accumulation) will last 4 weeks, but it could also last more or less, as long as we follow the guidelines provided in figure 2 we should be in the right track. Block (2) also lasts 4 weeks, and again could last a little bit lest (2, 3, or 4 weeks) Lastly our 3rd block is “realization” which lasts 2 weeks (it could last 1 week). Also Notice on Figure 3 that I add an extra block (Competition block) this serves as a deloading phase in where the athlete starts getting prepare and (in most cases) travels for a competition.

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We can modify our training periodization depending on the athlete’s need. Suppose we have a extremely strong athlete, but not so fast or powerful. We can then, shorten our 1st block, which is Maximal Strength, and increase our Power and Speed blocks. Figure 4 shows a 8-week training plan for a strong athlete that wants to increase mainly their power output.

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We could also modify this for a powerful athlete that needs strength development. Figure 5 shows an increased training microcycles of 6 weeks, followed by a shorter power and speed training blocks.

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     All this samples were for the “Off-season” or “Pre-Season” period of our macrocycle (Training plan). During the off-season we will focus a lot on developing our biomotor abilities (strength, power, speed). Now during the “IN SEASON” or “Competition period” we will focus more on developing our technical and tactical game (more Wushu specific), while we still maintain and make some progress in our biomotor abilities (strength, power, speed, endurance, etc.) (See figure 6).

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Figure 6. A 21-week training periodization with pre and competitive cycles.

            Keep in mind that these blocks can be customized depending on the athletes level. This type of periodization is suitable for intermediate to elite athletes. With beginners I would focus first on developing basic strength, mobility, flexibility, and developing a “SOLID” technical base in Wushu.  Remember that as long as you follow the guideless in figure 2, you can construct any type of training plan that can suit your needs.

In the next series of articles, which I intend to publish every 1-2 weeks, I will discuss and demonstrate the exercises that can be used in any of these training blocks, as well as how to construct a microcycle (training week).  I decided to start with the “BIG” picture on how a training plan looks like, rather than talk about individual cycles first and put them together at the end. I am a visual learner and if I don’t see the big picture at the end I loose interest in things, and I’m pretty sure a lot of us are this way. Now that you know what’s coming, keep tune for next Friday when I post the next article “Strength training and exercises for Wushu athletes”.

            If you have any questions, please post them here on jiayooowushu or send me a message through Facebook, Instagram, or twitter. Let me know what you think, and please share this article! Jiayo!

References:

Verkhoshansky Y., & Verkhoshansky N. (2011). Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches. Verkhoshansky TSM. Italy, Rome.

Samuel (Sam) Montalvo, has competed several times in International and World Wushu Competitions. Samuel is currently studying a PhD in Exercise Science (Health Science) from the University of Texas at El Paso. Samuel is also actively competing in open and international tournaments.