In Defence of Linear Periodisation: Part 1 of 3 – Common Mistakes of LP

This will be a 3 part series; I may release these weekly instead of fortnightly so if you want more let me know in the comments!

Linear periodisation: From Kirk to Coan, many have employed a simple progressive approach of increasing the weight and decreasing reps and volume as the competition approaches. Eg, a 10 week training cycle beginning at 10 reps and gradually decreasing to sets of 1. It’s simple, effective, time proven and tested. My goal in this post is to address the common mistakes that people make so that you can successfully run a training cycle.

Part 1 – Common mistakes in LP programs

  1. Choosing too high a target.

What derails LP programs is the lifter’s ego and the failure to choose realistic weights to peak to at the end of a cycle. The risk of missing lifts or complications is largely mitigated by taking a smart approach. Any good lifter that has used LP always makes the caveat, be conservative! If the correct target is chosen then a lifter does gain some degree of flexibility in that often a bad session will merely require hitting the prescribed volume, where as a good session can allow for upwards scaling or an increase in volume. So is LP rigid? Yes. Is that a bad thing? Depends on how you plan it. But plan realistically and prepare accordingly and there shouldn’t be any missing.


In part 2, I will address how to choose a target to work towards, and in part 3 I will address how to modulate volume if things are going good or bad.


  1. Failing to concurrently periodise your assistance work.

If you know there is an intimate relationship between your squat and your front squat, why the hell are you only front squatting 2 plates for some reps after your squats? As a coach I have found a consistent correlation between front squats and competition squats. So if the goal is to squat a certain weight, then I know exactly where the front squat needs to be and work towards that number in training. This applies to the big 3, each will have an assistance movement that drives the lift FOR YOU. So make sure that these weights are moving as well to address your weaknesses.

In part 2, I will detail some approaches in how to structure assistance work to keep all your main lifts moving, and when to drop them out to maximise your peak.



  1. Failing to prepare

This may seem obvious, but in a style of program where each subsequent week depends on the successful completion of the current week, this becomes paramount. I understand that ‘life happens’ and sometimes there are factors outside of your control, but if you know you’re squatting heavy on Tuesday why are you up late on Monday night screwing around on Facebook? Go to bed, foam roll, eat a solid meal, be prepared! This current trend of flexibility in training has been misinterpreted by many as an excuse for laziness and a loss of diligence. Be mentally prepared because you know what? Come meet day you don’t have the option of ‘feelings.’ It’s time to perform, and practicing how to fight in your training will teach you how to fight in your competition.

As always, ask any questions and keep an eye you for Parts 2 and 3!