Failing to plan is planning to fail. And when it comes to training and workout time, mapping out blocks that we will commit to our sport or fitness goals on weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual tracks optimizes our opportunity to succeed.
That’s why the concept of periodization training and approaching our goals as athletes makes all the sense in the world. With periodization, we plan out our training over an extended period of time, chunking them down and breaking them into smaller, manageable building blocks.
Periodization Training Road Map
So why is periodization training just as important to the elite athlete as it is to someone just starting to incorporate a walking program, swim training or strength workouts into their days?
- Periodization helps to establish an excellent road map for your training.
- Takes the guesswork out when it comes to training volume and intensity.
- Establishes enough time to see results.
- Avoids changing too often.
Periodization training is simply the organization and design of a training plan that is based on achieving the best results. This is an approach I use coaching athletes and one I would recommend to anyone who desires to pace a training program sensibly and reduce injury risk.
Let’s say you are now ready to start to work out. You see your doctor and he/she recommends that you start a walking program. Great! At the same time, you are considering getting back into the gym to re-establish some muscle strength. Where do you start? How much is too little? How much is too much?
Understanding Phases of Training
The phases of periodization training are broken down into physiologically sensible steps. It’s all about helping your body adapt and prepare before building new strength and skills.
- Preparation Phase: General preparation
- Base Phase: Building your endurance and functional strength
- Build Phase: Getting specific in your training
- Peak Phase: It’s go time! You’re ready and the training has paid off!
Watch for the Signs
Within the periodization of your training there are three stages your body will go through:
The macrocycle is generally your annual plan that includes all the phases of periodization: preparation, building and performance phase.
The mesocycle is the period of training generally that can span from 2-6 weeks. This is where you build your strength, endurance, mobility and flexibility with a number of workouts or training sessions.
The microcycle is generally a week long. Each microcycle provides a training map for each week, keeping you focused on exactly the workouts you need to do for that period.
Mapping Out a Plan
Let’s use Kathy as an example. Kathy is 60 years old and has not participated in organized workouts or fitness exercise in years. She is determined to lose some weight and get herself physically fit. This is the day she decided that she was going to make a change.
Kathy goes to her local bookstore and purchases a book on strength training and how to best start a walking/running routine. She lays out a six-month macrocycle plan that will include walking two miles, three days a week (mescocyle plan) for the next six weeks.
Six weeks into her program, Kathy is feeling stronger and is ready to enter the strength-building phase. She will now add a run/walk routine to slowly start to develop her running, one-minute run by one-minute walk for the next week (microcycle). Each week, as she feels stronger and builds her endurance, she can add more running and less walking.
Flexible, Scientific Approach to Fitness
The beauty of periodization schedules is they are flexible, can grow and expand as you develop, and are scientifically proven to be a superior approach to fitness training. By using periodization in your training, you will have a solid plan to follow, achieve your goals and see great results!