Episode # 50

The Great Periodization Debate! [Linear vs Conjugate]

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Released on February 11, 2016

In this weeks episode, Joe clears up any confusion regarding the true meaning of the word periodization. He also gives a straightforward, understandable overview of both “Linear” & “Conjugate” periodization models. He then explains the benefits and drawbacks of each, along with some common misconceptions. He provides real-world examples of when each model can be used, as well as his personal periodization preference during the past 15 years.

After listening to today’s show, you will undoubtedly possess the knowledge to make an educated decision regarding the periodization model that is best suited for YOUR personal situation.



00:07:20 – Joe shows some love to the audience and reads the best iTunes reviews of the week

00:15:05 – Joe begins to clear up the confusion regarding periodization by giving his easy-to-understand definition and shares the story of the 1st “periodized” program he ever wrote

00:21:55 – Joe explains what “Linear periodization” means

00:26:35 – Joe discusses some of the drawbacks of linear periodization

00:32:25 – Joe begins explaining what “Conjugate periodization” means

00:42:45 – The story of how Conjugate periodization recently played a role in Triple H being prepared for the Royal Rumble on less than 4 weeks notice

00:54:00 – Joe discusses the specific situations he feels are best suited for a Linear periodization model and which situations are best suited for a Conjugate periodization model

00:55:35 – Joe explains how he would organize a linear periodization model [if he had to] for a football team

00:59:40 – Joe reveals why the Conjugate method is better suited for his athletes most of the time

01:06:00 – How/Why Joe started using a Conjugate model for long-term success [The 11-year story of Dave Diehl that started with an 8-week program]

01:11:15 – Joe dispels the myth that Conjugate training is just for powerlifters [Learn the “tweaks” Joe has made to the “Westside Method” to better suit his athletes and prevent them from getting “beat up” in the gym]

01:24:50 – Joe gives his final summary of the most important concepts explained during today’s show


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  1. Joe: I have been a strength coach/football coach for 22 years now. I have worked at both the collegiate level and high school level. In our program we have exclusively been using the American Conjugate as described by Louie Simmons. We lift heavy year round and even through our football season. Our gains in our core lifts are astronomical. We have freshmen squatting over 500lbs seniors in the 600-700 range. So many benching 315 to 400+. While we d not speed training in the off season our 40 times get better and better because of the added leg/hip strengh. We had 35 kids running sub 4s 40’s this year and even a 4.37s 40. This type of training in my opinion is so much better for athletes in any sport.

  2. This podcast is the one and only about training, I look forward to this every week. It is to bad that you was not around when I started training for like 20-25 years ago. On that time it was only Arnold training and magazines like Flex that gave us our training tips.
    Your words are reaching all the way to Sweden and at least one meat head. 🙂

    I have one request on a topic, how about some training tips for Judo and other martial arts, you must have a lot of thoughts around that. It cant be so much different from the training for prowrestling.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Thanks, great episode.
    I would like to start experimenting with the conjugate style of training. Do you have any recommendations for books or sites where I can get more info on programming? Some of my clients train just once or twice a week with me (no sports on the side). Is it useful to incorporate it when it’s just so “little” training?

  4. Joe D.,

    I truly appreciate the years of honesty and practical experience you share with your fans and subscribers. That is what made me wanted to be a part of you CPPS program. I am a huge advocate of the conjugate method and was wondering if you and Smitty will come out with a new full blown conjugate program on the insider any time soon. I understand you guys have the new awesome SB911 which is both conjugate and linear in certain aspects. I think it would be awesome if you guys can come up with a full blown updated conjugate program for all the fans and washed up meatheads!! Keep up the awesome work and podcast!

  5. Thanks for another great episode, Joe. I like your common-sense approach: that most methods have their place, you just have to know when to apply which one.

    I first got given Bompa to read as a young soldier, with advice that I should use block periodization for my own training. Of course the biggest problem with that was I was a grunt, and the only time I spent more than three weeks without going out field was Christmas leave. I wouldn’t have even gotten through the anatomical adaptation phase before spending two or three weeks out field and then having to start the whole process again. When I first started CrossFit (yes, I know. I’ve learnt better now) that was actually one of the main pros: that it didn’t utilise linear periodization.

    Over the last four months I’ve had some great success using the conjugate method as the template for the off-season program for my footy players (our seasons are flipped down here). It’s worked wonders, and I’ve been really impressed.
    With my own lifting I’ve always been a bit leery of Westside, because of their rep as equipped-only lifters, but since you and Zach keep mentioning how useful it is when training athletes, I’ve started reading some of his books.
    The majority of my training over the last few years has been Texas Method (or varients thereof) but I’ve decided that if I want to talk intelligently about the pros and cons of a conjugate method then I need to have done it.
    So I’m currently four weeks into a basic Westside program. At the end of it, I’ll retest not only my lifts, but also a few athletic markers and see how they compare.

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