Reverse Periodization


Mike Keeler sent in the following question: With your experience with swimming, how would you go about apply your reverse periodization to our sport? First let me start with a brief rant. I abhor the term ‘reverse periodization” it is either periodization straight forward and up and up or it is not. I have no idea where this stupid term started. Periodization to me refers to the timing and sequence of the training stimulus. As far as swimming dryland I approach it with basically the same concept as other sports with different application based on the distance and the stroke. Get strong first, build a good structural foundation for the greater volume of work to follow. Once you are strong you can get fast. Now once you are fast you can swim fast enough to get specifically fit. Then get specific, fine tune your racing and then compete. It is important to recognize that these are not each separate distinct phases, they all overlap. I also recognize that competition will begin for some teams as early as the end of the get strong phase. That is OK, because those meets do not count. It is also important to understand that all components are trained during all phases just in different proportions. All of this is highly individual. One of the biggest mistakes with the whole periodization issue is that people want to think of periodization as a model, when in reality it is a concept. It is a tool to help the coach predict adaptive response. I think Jim Richardson, the women’s swim coach at University of Michigan understands how all this fits better than anyone in American swimming at the present time. On the world scene I think Stephan Widmer really understands this. If you take a step back and look at the big picture this concept is not that revolutionary. Ultimately it is about swimming fast! Why spend a huge period of time learning to swim slow and then unlearn that to try to swim fast? It is not the heart and lungs, it is the brain. Read Tim Noakes ideas on the Central Governor Theory.
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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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