Periodization - Manitoba Physical Education Teachers Association

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					Periodization and Training: Train Smarter not Harder!
By Faralee Shipley BA

Are injuries, over-training, burnout and poor performances affecting you, your children, your students or your
athletes? Are you looking for a way to train smarter not harder?

Periodization is a method of training that involves progressive cycling of training program pieces over a period of
time. Cycles consist of overloading the body system that is to be trained (volume, intensity…), letting the system
rest and rebuild, and then stressing it again to a higher level.

Hans Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome Theory is the basis for this training philosophy as it explains our
biological responses to stress. This theory suggests that the body adapts to training in three different phases.
 Alarm Stage: involves the initial shock of the stimulus on the system. This is the introduction of a new activity
   where soreness and stiffness are experienced due to the ‘shock’ to the body.
 Resistance Stage: involves the adaptation to the stimulus by the system. The body adapts to the demands of
   an activity and becomes stronger.
 Exhaustion Stage: occurs when repairs are inadequate, resulting in a decrease in system function. This is
   usually caused by training too hard or too long without sufficient recovery.

The basis of periodization is to stay in the resistance stage without ever going into the exhaustion stage. By
incorporating cyclic training, the body will have enough time to recover from significant stress before more
training is added. Rest and recovery must be built into each daily, weekly, monthly and yearly cycle to counter
boredom, staleness, injuries and overtraining, which otherwise would lead to failure.

Remember that these suggestions, guidelines and samples will need to be tailored to different age groups,
sports and activities, competitive and recreational venues…

Periodization Planning: Generic
A generic, periodized annual training plan is classically divided into the following 8 phases:
 General Preparation
 Specific Preparation
 Pre-competition
 Competition
 Taper
 Peak
 Relax
 Off-season

Periodization Planning: Specific
1. Divide your training year into phases.
What your training year looks like? When does it start? When is your first competition? When is your most
important competition?

Now work out how many weeks there are between each of these dates, to calculate how many weeks are
available for each of the phases in your training plan.
 "Start date" to "first competition" includes General Preparation, Specific Preparation and Pre-competition
 "First competition" to "peak competition" includes Competition and Taper phases.
 "Peak competition" to year-end, includes Peak, Relax and Off-season phases.

2. Divide the phases into macro cycles, each with 1-5 micro cycles,
Macro cycles control the training load and the fatigue level generated by training. If the training load (volume of
training - hours, kilometers, weight lifted…). is increased continuously over a long phase, say 12 weeks, by the
end of the phase, the athlete will be so fatigued that he/she will not be able to train properly. Phases need to be
subdivided into macro cycles which includes weeks of increasing training load followed by a rest period, to
enhance performance.
Macro Cycle Samples
 1-1: High followed by low. Useful in competition phase, especially where athletes compete on weekends. A
  repeated pattern of 1-1 cycles gives a sequence of load and taper weeks. The 1-1 macro cycle is frequently
  used in taper phases for unloading.
 2-1: Two loading weeks, followed by a recovery week. Useful in phases where intensity is high, requiring
  more frequent rest and recovery such as pre-competition phases and anaerobic interval training
 3-1: Three loading weeks, followed by a recovery week. A utility macro cycle, most often used in preparatory
 4-1: Four loading weeks, followed by a recovery week. Used mainly in endurance sports in preparatory
  phases where high volumes of low intensity work are required for aerobic training.
 Macro cycles are rarely longer than 5 weeks, because 4 to 5 weeks of increasing training load without a rest
  can lead to injury and over training and certainly lead to debilitating residual fatigue levels. If a phase is
  longer than 5 weeks (such as the preparation phases), divide it into 2-3 macro cycles, so there is adequate
  rest incorporated.

Macro cycles can be further broken down into micro cycles, which usually are 1 week long. A 3-1 macro cycle
has four micro cycles (3+1) and is four weeks long. Micro cycles determine how the training load is laid out
during the week.
 Follow a heavy-volume day with a lighter volume day.
 Follow an overload activity with recovery activity.
 Avoid training that stresses the same energy system(s) on successive days.
 Allow sufficient time for recovery between workouts.
 Approximately 50% of training time should be recovery activity.
 Put one rest day in every micro cycle.

Micro Cycle Samples
 Low - high, no days off. Sometimes used in severe overload situations.
 High - low, Friday off. Typical for athletes who only have lots of time to train on weekends.
 Low - high, Sunday off. This pattern gives both the athlete and the coach a day off on the weekend.
 Race week/Pre-race week: Could be a race week for short duration events. Could be used in the last week of
   a taper phase in endurance sports, with races scheduled for the week afterwards.
 Mid-week rest: Used for high intensity low volume micro cycles, for example, just before a taper - peak

3. Allocate your training load into daily chunks within micro cycles and allocate your daily training hours to
particular training types.
This is what you do each day during every workout. There are a few general guidelines for daily training:
 Follow an intense practice session with a less intense session.
 Follow an overload activity with a recovery activity.
 Allow sufficient time for recovery between workouts.
 Avoid training that stresses the same energy system(s) on successive days.
 Avoid training that stresses the same mental system(s) on successive days.
 Approximately 50% of training time should be recovery activity.
 Avoid dehydration. If not, re-hydrate as soon as possible.
 Eat sufficient calories in a balanced diet.

Annual Training Plan
This is a sample of a yearly plan that would be applicable (with modifications) for all activities.

General           This is the first phase. Training focuses on developing overall fitness by establishing a solid
Preparation       foundation or a base in those systems that are slow to change (aerobic energy system,
(GP)              muscular strength/endurance/hypertrophy). Technical sports would also work on technique
                  changes or new equipment. Volume/load would be increasing throughout.
Specific          This is a continuation of the preparation phase, but has a transition into more sport specific
Preparation       training. For example, a cross-country skier who was mostly running and biking in the GP
(SP)              phase, would include more roller skiing during this phase. Work on the anaerobic energy
                  systems, speed and power would start. Volume/load would be increasing throughout, with peak
                 volume (hours/week) higher that in GP.
Pre-             This phase is when competition is prepared for. The peak volume (hours/week) may be less
competition      than in the previous phase, or it maybe more depending on the sport type, training history and
(PC)             the length of the CP. Generally, if the volume is less, the intensity of training will be increased.
                 A good rule of thumb is to try to keep the fatigue level constant as the volume goes down and
                 intensity goes up. Macro cycles will be shorter, tending to 3-1, 2-1 and sometimes 1-1.
Competition      To perform well, being relatively rested is crucial. To accomplish this, the total volume and the
(C)              fatigue levels are reduced significantly in this phase. Peak volume may be reduced to 50% of
                 the highest previous peak volume. In sports where the competition season is relatively long,
                 the early races will be treated as training races. Racing effort is counted in the training load.
                 Between races, training will focus on exercises and drills that keep the athlete ready for racing.
                 Significant effort will be put into recovery activities by including 1-1 or 2-1 micro cycles,
                 matched to the competition schedule.
Taper (T)        This phase is designed to lower the accumulated fatigue level to as low a value as possible,
                 while optimizing the race-readiness of the athlete. Volume is gradually lowered across the
                 phase while training focuses on short, intense training efforts followed by mental and physical
                 recovery activities. Taper length depends on the sport and on training age. Generally speaking,
                 the older the athlete, the longer the taper; young children and teens have relatively little
                 endurance, but recover quickly. Another rule of thumb is, the shorter the event, the shorter the
                 taper needed, probably reflecting the different residual fatigue levels experienced, for example,
                 by sprinters and marathon runners. A 2 week taper phase would use a 1-1 macro cycle, with a
                 decreasing volume. Volume would be about 25-30% of peak volume.
Peak (P)         This is the performance time. It may be only 1 competition lasting 2 days, or it maybe a week
                 or more of play-downs leading to a final competition. Emphasis is on mental preparation,
                 performance and recovery. Fatigue levels may go well above normal competition levels by the
                 end of a peak period if recovery is neglected.
Relax (R)        This is a de-tuning phase, in which the training load and intensity is gradually lowered from the
                 levels experienced in the competition phase. The volume of training at the peak of this phase
                 may be higher than in the competition phase, but the intensity will be lowered and the focus will
                 be on recovery. Volume decreases across the phase, which is generally only 1 macro cycle.
Off-season       Strictly speaking, this is not a training phase. It should be devoted to recovery and
(OF)             regeneration, particularly mental recovery. Hockey players get out their golf clubs, cross-
                 country skiers go hiking… It is the time to take care of chronic and repetitive strain injuries. No
                 particular volume constraints, although activity should not drop off suddenly, or fall too far
                 below the beginning levels anticipated for the first macro cycle of the next GP phase.

By incorporating a cyclic training program and emphasizing the stress-rest principles, you will optimize your
improvements and maximize the overall gains in your performance.

 The Scientific Method:
 Circuit Training vs. Periodized Resistance Training in Women by Ryan Overturf, B.S. and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.:
 Periodization: Latest Studies and Practical Applications by Christopher C. Frankel and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.:
 Periodization training with building blocks - calendaring the exercises:
 What Does 'Periodization' Mean and How Does It Work? by Mike Ricci:
 Periodization (or Periodized Training):

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