vertical jump training

Periodization Part 2: The Phases Explained

Written by Jack Woodrup for

In Periodization Part 1 we introduced you to the concept of splitting your training into distinct phases each with their own shorter term goals. In essence each of these phases is a stepping stone along the way to the ultimate goal.

In part 2 we will examine in more detail exactly what those phases are for improving your vertical jump. We will look at what the goals of each of these phases is, and how you should go about training in each phase to attain those goals.

The 5 Phases of a Periodized Training program

According to famed athletic coach Dr Tudor Bompa in his book Periodization Training for Sports (2005), there are 5 major training phases a power based athlete such as a vertical jumper should work through in order to maximize their performance. These are:

1. Anatomical Adaptation

2. Hypertrophy

3. Maximum Strength

4. Conversion

5. Competitive and Transition

As was mentioned in part 1, and as we will show you further along in this article, each of those phases develops the building blocks on which you progress your training towards your ultimate goal (in our case an improved vertical jump).

So without further ado lets get into them in detail.

Phase 1: Anatomical Adaptation

For a vertical jumper the goal of this first phase of periodization is to prepare the athlete for the future demands of their more focused training. During this phase you would work on your flexibility and co-ordination, rectifying any muscle and strength imbalance concerns between agonist and antagonist muscle groups, aerobic and anaerobic work capacity, strengthening ligaments and tendons, and also in the treatment and recovery of any injuries the athlete currently has.

The idea is to expose the athlete to a wide variety of exercises in order to have them functioning efficiently. This often takes the form of circuit training or a series of full body workouts.

The length of this phase will depend on a variety of factors including how long you have to devote to your total program, your level of experience in strength training, the level of importance of strength in your sport or activity, and your starting levels of general fitness.

Phase 2: Hypertrophy

The Hypertrophy phase of periodization is as the names suggests designed to increase muscle size and strength. In theory bigger muscles are stronger muscles. The reality is that bigger muscles have the potential to be stronger muscles. This is what we are aiming for here. To build muscle so that you have greater potential to gain strength in the next phase.

The training in this phase consists of weights with loads of approximately 65-85% of your 1RM for 6-15 reps per set. Rest periods are generally shorter at around 60 - 90 seconds between sets.

Once again the duration of this phase will depend on the experience of the athlete and the importance of strength for the activity. For vertical jump training strength is obviously very important, but also must be tempered against building too much size as this can have a negative impact on your jumping ability.

Phase 3; Maximum Strength

The goal of this phase of a periodized program is once again self explanatory - build maximum strength. This is obviously very important as power is a product of both your maximum strength and the speed at which you can apply it.

Strength is built by working with higher percentages of your 1RM (85-100%) for lower rep numbers (1-5), with several minutes rest between sets. Usually maximum strength training involves less number of exercises, instead focusing on the key maximum load capable lifts such as squats, deadlifts etc. The duration of this phase, as with them all will depend on the athlete and the demands of their sport.

See also: Strength Training

Phase 4: Conversion

Now we are starting to get to the good stuff. This is where you start turning some of that brute strength you have developed into explosive power, and consequently, into a huge vertical jump. You will however need to try and maintain your strength levels during this phase or your total power output may decline. Thats the bad news. The good news is that it is significantly easier to maintain your strength than it is to improve it.

For an athlete trying to convert strength to power such as a vertical jumper, this phase will generally last 4-5 weeks. It will be made up of plyometrics and ballistic weighted exercises such as jump squats (which don't necessarily have to be weighted but for stronger athletes it is advised), medicine ball throws, kettlebell swings, etc. For the speed component of this phase loads will be much lighter, if any, with the focus more on improving rate of force development and contraction times.

Phase 5: Competition and Transition

The competition phase of periodization is more commonly known as being in-season. The goal here is to try and maintain your strength throughout the season so as to minimize de-training. Often the sport itself provides enough stimulus to maintain the speed element of your power levels. For example a volleyballer in season will be doing plenty of jumping as they play their games. Any extra plyometric work for example could possibly over-tax the CNS and the bodies ability to recover.

The transition element of this phase occurs right after the season finishes. This period is used to just recover physically and mentally from the competition. Here you treat any injuries and just take a total break to refresh your body and mind. The longer the competitive season the longer you would require to recover. That said, an athlete doesn't want to rest totally for too long or they again risk de-training.

What To Do Once You Have Compelted All 5 Phases

Once you have been through a full cycle of periodization the obvious thing to do is work through it again. Depending on how well you maintained your strength during the season and how fatigued you are you might only have short adaptation and hyper trophy phases, preferring to get right into the maximum strength and conversion phases again.

However it is important to note that these phases also serve an important role in ensuring motivation levels are maintained so they should not be skipped altogether. Remember, each phase of periodization builds on the prior one in an effort to peak for the competition. By skipping or not doing sufficient work in certain areas you weaken your base and will limit your vertical gains.

It is for this reason that we would believe that all athletes when they start out vertical jump training should go through at least one, maybe two full cycles of a periodized program.


There you have periodization broken down into its main components. Some will be more relevant to you than others and as such you should spend more time focusing on them. Some may not be relevant to you at all.

For example, if you just play basketball socially on weekends then in reality your competition phase doesn't actually exist. On the other hand if you are playing and training several times a week, you clearly have a competition phase and need to plan your vertical jump program accordingly.

No matter what your situation, setting in place a good training plan is great way to ensure you make long term, consistent gains, whilst minimizing your chances of injury and over training. Periodization is one of the best ways to plan out your program that has been proven to be very successful for many years.

Back to Periodization Part 1

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