You may have heard of periodisation, but what is it?
It simply means varying the emphasis of your training to help you reach a particular goal, with speed, strength and endurance being important qualities of any successful sport.
Periodisation works by gradually manipulating the training variables of intensity, volume, sets, repetitions, exercises, training frequency and the amount of rest between sets as you progress towards your goals – depending what these are. The progressions generally fall under three headings – I feel these should be adhered to not matter what the goal is, as they keep programming simple and easy.
|Preparatory / off-season||Competitive / in-season||Transition / off-season|
Under these three main headings fall the mesocycles, which are the phase of strength being worked on – Anatomical Adaptation, Maximum Strength, Power, Power-Endurance and Muscle Endurance.
These are then split into microcycles – which is the weekly plan stating the repetitions and sets. This also works the aerobic and anaerobic systems – where we can work on our lactic acid, alactic and aerobic energy system.
Periodised plans can follow three methods of planning:
Linear – training follows a linear progression where not a lot varies. This generally works for a beginner or a sport where you have a season you need to maintain strength/speed/endurance for.
Undulating – looks to make changes weekly or daily – as opposed to monthly. So your Monday session could be 12-15 repetitions, Wednesday’s session 8-10 repetitions and Friday’s session 5-7 repetitions, for instance.
Conjugate – this looks to overlap various phases of training, so you don’t just work on one area at time the same time (as with linear and undulating). Using conjugate methods, you overlap various phases of training. For example, if you are working on a strength phase, and the next phase is power, you would perform two sessions a week on strength training and one session on power. Then, when you move into the power phase, you perform two power sessions and one strength session during the week.
* A study by Rhea et al. (2002) looked at Linear and daily undulating periodised programs on improved performance on the bench press and leg press. The mean percentage increase using the linear method was 14.37% for the bench and 25.61% for the leg press. The daily undulating groups reported mean percentage improvements of 28.78% improvements on the bench and 55.78% improvements in the leg press. This shows that it may be necessary to vary the periodised plan depending on the muscles being targeted as different muscles are made up from different fibre types and have different favorable loading patterns.
No matter what your goal, whether for a sport, for fat loss or for muscle building, periodisation is important, as it gives the training plan a structure for us to follow. It means we can build a training plan for the year, simply by using various blocks of training together.
Running plans always have a strong element of periodisation, as they progress as the plan goes on: you may run more hills sprints and the long run would be a mile further that the previous week, for example. All good plans, however, have a de-load week, where every third or fourth week the load/volume decreases to give the body time to rest and repair from the previous training load, and get it ready to push on for the next phase.
Building blocks you might want to consider when putting a training plan together include: