• By: Pedro Candeias
  • Date: 04/08/2017


Here we are with our 3rd article about Training Periodization for Karate!


The last two were dedicated to:

  1. Myths and Facts of Training Periodization
  2. The 4 Key Stones of Karate Periodization


We recommend you to read those articles so you can better understand what we are talking about in today’s article…


In this post, we’ll give you a 5th Key Stone of Training Periodization for Karate!


Besides that, we will see which are the best Periodization models so your students and athletes can achieve their goals with higher levels of motivation. How can you program your Karate sessions respecting and using the 4 Key Stones of Karate Periodization…

The 4 Key Stones of Periodization

At the end of this post, you’ll have not 4 but 5 Key Stones, right?!?


Yes, that’s right!


In Karate Science Academy we study all the articles, systematic reviews and meta-analysis of every given theme… So you can have the best knowledge and scientific-proven in your Dojo!


If you want to know more about what really is our mission, read  OUR DREAM IS OUR MISSION.





We already said that in previous articles…


But let’s see more arguments that prove this statement!


  1. When you look at scientific studies that compare several Periodization models you see that more varied training interventions have greater or at least the same results as more “static” and repetitive programs.


  1. Individuals subjectively perceive less effort during the training sessions, even though they have the same or greater results than groups that practice with more traditional and repeated Periodization strategies.


This effect is even greater in women… And this is very, very important if you want to motivate more girls and women to Karate’s practice.


  1. Increased Variability/Variation is less stressful on the neuromuscular system than traditional training formats


Wait a minute!!


Science shows us that greater strength gains, for example, can be achieved by training methods perceived as less exhausting?!?


Also, shows us that varied training may be an “easier” method to increase strength gains when compared to traditional training?!?


Yes, that’s right!! In Karate Science Academy we are also very happy to know this!!!!!


And your students will also be very happy and motivated! We believe your Dojo will grow in number of students when you dedicate your time planning training sessions like Science teaches you…


A possible explanation for this is that individuals who are less exhausted can be able to perform sets and exercises with greater neuromuscular activation and technical quality.


But don’t confuse “less exhausting perception” with “less training stimulus” or “laziest training programs”!!


The secret is in the way you organize each training session, each week, each month…


That’s why it will be very useful to know which are the best Periodization models to help you in your work as a Karate coach.





Please, don’t you ever forget this…




More than how you organize your training. More than how repetitive or varied are your Karate sessions. More than the type of Periodization model you use.


This means that if you have an adequate training Volume you can have more motivating and varied Karate classes with the same or even greater results when compared with boring and repetitive programs!!!


How do you measure Volume?


Volume is influenced by these factors:


  1. Number of Sets
  2. Number of Repetitions
  3. Training Load
  4. Duration of Training Sessions
  5. Frequency – number of sessions per week
  6. Time – how much time an exercise lasts
  7. Distance – how much distance your students cover in an exercise





You have 5 Key Stones that you much have in mind when you are planning your Karate sessions:


  1. Training Variation / Variability
  2. High-Intensity Periods
  3. Evaluation
  4. Flexibility
  5. Volume





We chose these models because Science shows us that they are effective in the improvement of sports and human movement performance.


These methods also allow a level of Variability that really boosts your Karate athletes and students’ motivation!!


It’s a true Win-Win scenario…


Of course, some Periodization models are more appropriated for some groups than others. We will that in the next articles of these series. First, you need to understand the characteristics of each one.


Let’s see the names that professional sports and exercise community gives to those models:


  1. Pendulum Model
  2. ATR Model (Issurin and Kaverin)
  3. Structural Model (Tschiene)
  4. Block Model (Verkhoshansky)
  5. Bondarchuck Model
  6. Tactical Periodization Model (Frade)
  7. Non-Linear Flexible Periodization


Do you want to know the specific characteristics of each one of these Periodization models?


Keep reading…




Pendulum Training it’s a way of structuring your Karate training to maximize the development of several physical capacities while avoiding overtraining and stagnation.


Basically, you start a new phase every week.


Each phase has different goals.


While Classic Periodization switches phases every four to eight weeks, Pendulum strategy does it every week.


These are the main principles behind Pendulum model:


  1. It pretends to prevent overtraining despite doing a lot of work (Volume). Remember what you read in this article: TRAINING EFFICACY DEPENDS, ABOVE ALL, ON VOLUME!


  1. Training Variation is achieved with switched stimulus between Central Nervous System vs Musculoskeletal System. This will help your Karate students and athletes to super-compensate and avoid stagnation.


Even the best training methods lead to diminished results when they are used for too long!


  1. Pendulum Training (as the other Periodization models we are going see) makes training fun! No matter how much your students like training Karate, there comes a point where they get bored… with Pendulum Training the training sessions are drastically different from week to week. Don’t you think your students will renew their motivation with every new phase?!?



Let’s see an example of Pendulum model for increasing of Power, Strength and Speed…


A Pendulum for Karate strength/power/speed performance should have 5 Phases:


Phase 1 – Structural Phase

The main purpose is to increase foundational strength and/or muscle mass, correct muscular imbalances and prepare the whole body to greater training loads.


Phase 2 – Functional Phase 1 (Strength)

You plan three Strength session during the week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for example. Each one of them will be dedicated to the concentric maximum effort, eccentric maximum effort, and isometric maximum effort, respectively.


If you want to use this method with recreational Karate students – those who train 2 or 3 times per week – you can organize the contraction stimulus in the explained order. One session focusing on concentric actions, one on eccentric actions and the last one on isometric actions.


Even if you don’t have the equipment to make them training strength traditional exercises you can stimulate your students using this strategy. There are several bodyweight exercises that will meet this purpose. And you can also increase resistance with the help of a partner.


If you are reading this to train Karate athletes and not only students you must assure that they lift big weights!


General lifts and basic Olympic lifts…


Phase 3 – Functional Phase 2 (Strength-Speed)

During this week you focus on high-power lifts or exercises more focused on strength dimesion of Power!


In other words, heavy loads with maximal speed of contraction…


Depending on your Karate recreational students strength levels you can easily achieve it only with body weight and the resistance of a partner.


With athletes or if you have a gym inside your Dojo/your Dojo inside a gym (loool) you can make Olympic lift variations and speed-lifts – like speed bench press or speed squat.


Phase 4 – Functional Phase 3 (Speed-Strength)

This time speed will be your training focus.


More emphasis on Plyometrics and Ballistic exercises.


For Ballistic exercises, you can easily use Medicine Balls, for example.


To know more about Plyometrics and Ballistic Training read:



If you are planning training sessions for Karate athletes or have access to a gym you can also make jump squats or bench press on the Smith machine.



Phase 5 – Active Recovery

This phase as the main goal of giving your Karateka’s body and central nervous system a rest from the previous training.


You’ll use lighter loads, a slow tempo and short rest intervals.


You want muscles to recover from the intensive work of the previous weeks.


This week will also help your students and athletes to prevent injuries and demotivation!


Regarding to the type of exercises, whenever it’s possible focus on multi-joint exercises, because a Karateka wants his or her body to be strong in complex and coordinated movements!



ATR Model is a variation of the original Block Periodization.


It’s name comes from Accumulation + Transmutation + Realization.


These are the 3 types of mesocycles used within this Periodization strategy.


Which are the basic principles of ATR Model?


  1. Emphasis on the necessity for Karateka to maintain a suitable fitness level during the entire year. In competitive contexts nowadays every Karate athlete participates in 8, 10, 12 tournaments per season.

And if we talk about non-competitive Karate students they are not concerned about working for a peak of performance once a year. What they want is to stay as fit and effective as they can all year, right?


  1. ATR Periodization has drastic variations in intensity between weeks and days of training.


  1. It presumes residual training effects by applying concentrated workloads in mesocycles/periods of 1 to 6 weeks. It focus on a smaller number of target abilities.


And which are the characteristics of the 3 Phases/Mesocycles of ATR?


Let’s look at the work of Carazo-Vargas (2015) and how he used ATR Periodization in Karate…


The goal of ACCUMULATION PHASE is to develop general strength, aerobic power, flexibility and a high volume of basic Karate technique and tactics – Kata and Kumite.


In this phase, you want to develop basic skills. Physical, technical and tactical skills.


Your Karateka should increase their technical repertoire and improve technical quality. The optimization and corrections of technical actions are emphasized during this period.


Aerobic capacity development should be trained in one major way: targeted technical and/or tactical sessions.


How do you do this?


During the technical sessions, you dedicate 30 minutes to train a large number of combinations of Kihon, Kata or Kumite skills with a high workload performed continuously. The intensity of effort should be moderate.


You can also achieve this goal with controlled and continuous Kumite, Kihon or Kata practice.


Overall strength is another goal of Accumulation phase.


Passive and Active stretching is performed in every sessions. This allows your Karateka to prevent injuries and to increase flexibiliy levels and range of motion so they can improve their performance.



During the TRANSMUTATION PHASE the goals are developing specific strength, power, specific flexibility and continuing the development of basic Karate technique and tactics.


This phase is designed to transforme the potential of the physical and technical skills into more specific preparation.


You want your Karateka to develop speed and power in their kicks, punches and body displacements.


Here, Plyometrics plays a very important role!


It’s a good phase to develop the ability to perform physical actions with muscle fatigue, for example.


The volume of techniques trained is reduced. Instead of that, the focus should be now on the actions classified as priority by your so you can have the best results in the next competition or grading exam.


The time for each exercise should be as similar as possible to the conditions of competition, gradings or self-defence situations.


Agility should be highly stimulated. To know what Agility really is and how you should train it in your Dojo, read What the hell is agility and why is so important to karate? and The 3 phases of agility training for young karateka!!


At last, during the REALIZATION PHASE there is a decrease in training volume.


The main goals are the development of reaction speed techniques, increase specific technique and tactics to the next competition or grading exame and increase Kumite and Kata simulations similar to the environment they will meet.


Realization Phase is the final phase before a tournament or a belt exam!


The training load is reduced and intensity and specificity of the Karate actions are increased to replicate the performance you want your students and athletes to achieve!


There is no reduction in the number of sessions. Instead of that you reduce training volume by decreasing density of the work. You make it by increasing rest periods between exercises.


The Realization mesocylce should have the most personalized training program for each student or athlete… Think about strategies that allow you to personalize your Karate classes as much as you can, in this phase.


If we are talking about Kumite or Kata competitive athletes give them more freedom to select their favourite techniques and tactics or Kata.


Simulate, as much as you can, the conditions your Karate groups will find in the next tournament or belt exam!



ATR Cycle can be made between every tournaments or gradings. Or you can define some priority events to mark the beginning and the ending of a cycle. If you opt for this strategy you can have intermediate tournaments, for example, that don’t interfere with the ATR cycle you’ve defined.




We’re done for now…


In the next article, you will receive more amazing practical advises so you can plan your Karate session in a more motivating, effective and healthier way.


Stay tuned and thank you for reading the articles of Karate Science Academy.



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P.S. – When you know all the Periodization models recommended by Karate Science Academy you’ll face an additional challenge… That challenge is knowing what’s the best strategy for Kids, Athletes, Recreational Karateka! And how you integrate two or more Periodization models in the same Karate group. Don’t worry, because that’s our mission: helping you with the best scientific answers to your doubts!!