Notes from Vladimir Issurin – Block Periodisation in Sport Training

This will be the first in a series of blogs where I post up my notes from the many lectures, seminars and continuous professional develeopment events that I have attended partly as a resource and partly (hopefully!) to stimulate some discussion.

These are the bullet point notes that I made during the lecture by Vladimir Issurin at the 2010 UKSCA Conference on Block Periodisation.  The slides from the lecture can be downloaded here –  Vladimir Issurin – Block Periodisation.

Vladimir Issurin is the scientific and professional coordinator of the Elite Sport Department at the Israeli Olympic Committee at the Wingate Institute.


  • How do you peak for week in, week out sport?
  • In order to achieve Elite status in most sports you need to be able to peak 7 or 8 times per season but the traditional model of periodisation from Matveyev only allows for 3 peaksMatveyev Periodisation
  • In the traditional model the peak occurs in mid-season and then tails off because of a lack of hypertrophy work and the accumulation of stress
  • Can many abilities be trained at once?  At higher performance levels this is harder to achieve
  • Simultaneous development of many abilities decreases the effectiveness of training as the body cannot adapt simultaneously to many stimuli
  • Post 1990 when the Berlin Wall fell training volumes were lowered significantly
  • Competitions increased post 1990 as there was financial stimulation to compete more
Past Present
Competitions Less More
Total Workload More Less
Pharmacology Liberal Limited
Development Simultaneous Consecutive
  • Contemporary coaching is more efficient as coaches are more educated and experienced
  • Limitations of the traditional model
    • Low stimulation from mixed training
    • Conflicting physiological responses – the major reason of overtraining
    • Excessive fatigue accumulation
    • Inability to take part in many competitions

    Traditional Periodisation

Blocks & Stages

  • A block is a training cycle of highly concentrated, specialised workloads
  • Bondarchuk for hammer throwing used the following system:
    • Development – General Physical Prep – 50% volume by comparison – 4 weeks
    • Competitive – Tapering – 4 weeks
    • Restoration – 2 weeks
  • Touretski in swimming used General, Specific and Competitive blocks
  • Issurin and Kaverin in Canoe/Kayak used
    • Accumulation – Generalised, high volume, strength, aerobic targets
    • Transformation – Specialised and intensive training
    • Realisation – tapering
  • Each block had very few targets
  • Total number of blocks were small – maximum of 3
  • Mesocycle block was 2 to 4 weeks
  • Single blocks combine to form the training stage
  • Training stages form the annual plan
  • Blocks allow multiple peaks as small blocks are easily manipulated
  • Traditional model – cumulative training effect
  • Block model – residual training effect

Block Periodisation



  • High load concentration – highly qualified athletes require concentrated loads for adequate stimulus – 60-70% of total training time is devoted to just a few targets
  • Residual Training Effects – retention of changes after cessation of training. These differ by:
    • Training age – older athletes retain for longer but gain more slowly
    • Motor quality – aerobic endurance and maximal strength last up to 30 days whereas speed lasts around 5 days
  • Consecutive Development – Simple and easy to remember mini annual plan
  1. Basic ability
  2. Sport specific ability
  3. Taper
  4. Competition

Overall this was a very interesting lecture that highlighted the need for coaches to be adaptable to the circumstances they face as competition events seem to be ever increasing in number and frequency and off season/training periods are ever diminishing.  The concept of residuals is very important in  the planning and periodisation process especially when dealing with highly qualified athletes who are at an advanced training age.

As with all systems you must take care to ensure it is appropriate for the sport/team/athletes you are working with. It would appear more suitable to highly qualified single event athletes such as Olympic level shot put and discus throwers rather than field sport type athletes who have such a broad range of biomotor abilities to work on for such a long period of time.  Having said that when I questioned him at the end of the lecture Issurin was confident it would work for rugby or football but time dictated that I couldn’t question him further. In his excellent video presentation on his work with Wasps Academy, Keir Wenham-Flatt discusses using block type periodisation in pre-season training and a vertical integration system in-season.

As an aside that whole lecture is worth a watch – its in 9 parts and Part One is here – the rest will be in the YouTube sidebar.

Please post any questions or comments in the box below or via Twitter



Simon Nainby is an Accredited Strength & Conditioning Coach and Tutor, Sports Massage Therapist, RFU Level II coach and an Assistant Athletics Coach. He has worked for a number of professional and semi-professional teams and he currently acts as a coaching consultant through Underground Athletics to a wide range of athletes from rugby players to Olympic Lifters. He provides physical preparation training and support in order to maximise sports performance. This consists of strength, speed and power training combined with recovery support to create a periodised programme which is essential for athletes to perform to their potential.

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