Have you ever wondered if linear periodization progression models are really best for physiological improvements?

According to a study published in the July issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2010; 24 [7], 1718–23), autoregulatory progressive resistance exercise may help athletes improve strength at faster rates. The study involved 23 Division I college football players who followed a self-paced or linear periodization resistance training program for 6 weeks. Each athlete performed the bench press (to measure 1-RM and muscular endurance) and weighted squat exercises. Participants in the self-paced group augmented resistance based on variations in performance and were instructed to work to fatigue. The linear group participants added resistance each week and worked within 75%–80% of their maximum capacity. At study completion, the self-paced group increased 1-RM bench press strength by an average of 93 pounds and 1-RM squat strength by 225 pounds. The linear group made little to no improvement in 1-RM bench press strength and increased their 1-RM squat strength by 37 pounds. Also, the self-paced group improved bench press muscular endurance, whereas the linear group did not. “Because individuals increase strength or respond to training stimuli at different rates, it is possible that use of autoregulation may maximize the amount of strength gained over a training cycle,” stated the study authors.

IDEA member Jade Teta, ND, CSCS, and co-owner of Metabolic Effect in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, suggests that a psychological component may also be in play when individuals autoregulate their exercise programs. “In psychology research, Self-Determination Theory posits that when people are given control and choice over their options, internal motivation automatically increases,” he says. “These factors not only serve to increase the quality of work within a session; they can also improve exercise adherence from session to session.”

What do you think? Are autoregulatory progressive resistance exercise programs more effective than linear periodization