Periodization involves the long-term planning of the training process in order to achieve peak performance at a specified time. The traditional form of periodization involves the dividing of an annual plan into smaller more manageable phases and sub phases; however, this is not to say that periodization cannot be used for shorter timeframes and applied to the general population. A classic example of periodization would be a client wishing to fit into a specific dress size by a specific date.
In a non-periodized training program - which typifies the program most fitness enthusiasts subscribe to - all the physical parameters contributing to sporting performance/fitness gains receive equal attention throughout the year. This approach is less efficient than sensible periodization due to numerous factors including:
- The lack of time in a single week to fully attend to all the parameters that influence performance.
- The developments of some physiological parameters are interfered with by the concurrent development of others.
- Some components of performance can not be adequately developed before certain prerequisites are met.
THE ANNUAL PLAN
While the annual plan is a plan used by coaches to plot training schedules to ensure a specific period of peak performance (season or event), the same principles that will be discussed here can be applied to shorter time frames (as a final example will show).
To allow for easier control, monitoring and planning an annual plan is divided into smaller phases. Depending on the references used, these phases are also termed periods or training cycles. The three basic phases are listed at the top of Figure 1 below:
Two of these phases, the preparatory and the competitive, are again broken down in Figure 2 - the preparatory phrase into general preparation and specific preparation and the competitive phase into pre-competition and competitive.
These phases and sub phases are again broken down into smaller components called cycles. When it comes to the training cycles, there are various classifications used, and each has its own different time periods. Matveyev’s model (see Figure 3 below) utilizes macro-cycles of several months to a one-year (or more) duration; meso-cycles are a two- to six-week duration and micro-cycles are a seven-day duration.
Although maybe applicable for the longer term planning, it is commonly regarded that Bompa and Nadori’s adapted model (see Figure 4 below) is more practical. Here, training cycles in conjunction with the above phases and sub phases are divided into macro-cycles of a two- to six-week duration (Matveyev’s meso-cycle) and microcycles of a one-week duration.
Therefore, the breakdown of an annual training plan into the individual training session can be portrayed as in Figure 5 below.
General Preparation (Conditioning) Phase
- Lasts up to four months depending on athlete status (novice/elite). Generally novices will spend longer in this phase.
- Basic goal is to prepare the athlete for the high intensity training to follow.
- Increases are to volume of training with only slight increases in intensity.
- Train the entire organism (e.g., using major muscle groups/compound exercises).
- Training aims to develop the general physical performance characteristics (endurance, strength, flexibility, mobility etc.).
- Skill training should not be overlooked. For some athletes, skills work is dominant in this phase (e.g., novice weight trainers). However, with more experienced athletes, major faults are corrected and key components for new skills are introduced. Basic tactical skills are also introduced.
Specific Preparation Phase
- Lasts two to three months prior to the start of the competitive season.
- Progressive increases in intensity training and specificity.
- Volume reduced slightly or maintained (secondary concern compared to intensity).
- Emphasis is given to improving technique and/or team work.
- Development of max strength and conversion into power.
- Implementation of hard intervals and race pace training for endurance athletes.
Training (level) Age
- With each successive year, less general and more specific preparation is needed.
- Raw (novices) should spend as much time as possible in general and specific preparatory phases (important for long-term development).
- This phase is only generally applicable to individual sports; however, it can still be used in team sports.
- Generally lasts up to three months.
- Basic goal is the athletes' technical abilities.
- Volume decreases to allow recovery and prevent exhaustion.
- Intensity remains high (in the form of competitive situations).
- Any general training performed is used as a means of active recovery and maintenance of capacities developed in general conditioning phase.
- Base characteristics are not to drop. If they do, the load for strength training needs to increase.
- Final touches to skill development.
- Competitive experience developed through increasing levels of competition (e.g., "scratch" match). It is interesting to note that Gandelsman and Smirnov claim that the athlete should be exposed to around 7 to 10 competition situations in order to achieve high results.
- Psychological preparation established.
- Often separated by a recovery period to allow a physical and psychological rest in preparation for the final two to six weeks of the comp season.
- Intensity is high with low volume and should peak two to three weeks before competition.
- Recovery, both physiological and psychological, must be optimal to prevent "burn out." Both loading and unloading microcycles should be used, ratios dropping to a 1:1 (one heavy cycle, one light cycle) if required.
Transition or Recovery Phase
- Allows recovery before next cycle begins.
- Generally up to five weeks long depending on athlete’s condition. (If possible, the transition phase should not exceed five weeks unless contraindicated - e.g., injuries.)
- Release mental pressure of serious training and competition while preventing too great a loss of form.
- Recovery should be in an active form to prevent a large amount of detraining and should take the form of activities different to the usual training.
- General athletic principals should still be maintained, including diet and alcohol consumption.
It is important to remember that the transition phase is just that, and in order to be effective, the athlete should enter the oncoming season fitter than the start of the previous season.
ADAPTATION TO THE FITNESS INDUSTRY
While based on a concept of an "Annual Plan," the same process and idea can be applied to a general 12- to 24-week training program. For personal trainers, a full 24-week plan can be useful in providing the clients with not only short- and long-term goals but confidence in the integrity of their trainer.
- Aitken, D. (1996). Periodization. Quest for the ultimate training plan. Fitlink magazine. First Quarter 1996. Coorparoo, Bne: Fitlink. pp18 -23.
- Baker, D. (1995). The Effect Of Wave-Like Periodized Strength Training Cycles On Maximal Strength and Lean Body Mass. Strength and Conditioning Coach Vol 3 No. 3.pp 11 – 16.
- Bompa, T.O. (1987). Periodization as a key element in planning. Sports Coach July September 1987. Belconnen, ACT: Australian Coaching Council.
- Bompa, T.O. (1994). Theory and Methodology of Training. Third Edition. Dubuque, Iowa; Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
- Calder, A. Accelerated Adaptation to Training. Belconnen, ACT: Australian Coaching Council.
- Charniga, A., Gambetta, V., Kraemer, W., Newton, H., O’Bryant, H., Palmieri, G., Pedemonte, J., Pfaff, D., & Stone, M., (1993). Periodization Part 1&2. National Strength and Conditioning Association Journal. Vol 15, No1,1993. pp 57 - 76.
- Clarkson, P.M. (1990). Too Much Too Soon: The Aftermath of Overexertion. Sports Science Exchange. Chicago, IL: Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Vol 2(1990) Number 21.
- Damm, G. (1997) Overload. Sports Coach Summer 1997. Belconnen, ACT: Australian Coaching Council.
- Damm, G. (1996) Specificity. Sports Coach Spring 1996. Belconnen, ACT: Australian Coaching Council.
- Damm, G. (1996) Variety. Sports Coach Autumn 1997. Belconnen, ACT: Australian Coaching Council.
- de Vries, H.A., & Housh, T.J., (1994). Physiology of Exercise 5th Edition. Madison, Wisconsin: Brown and Benchmark.
- Ehrhard, T. (1998), "Periodizing Interval Training for Peak Performance Without Overtraining" Performance Conditioning for Cycling Vol.4 (5).
- Fleck, S.J., & Kraemer, W.J., (1997). Designing resistance training programs. 2nd Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.Hawley, C.J., & Schoene, R.B. (2003). Overtraining Syndrome: A Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention, The Physician and Sportsmedicine. Vol.31 (6), pg. 25Healy,D.,(1998). Strength Training Team UA Style. Olympic Coach. Vol 8 (2).
- Hawley, C.J, & Schoene, R.B., (2003). Overtraining Syndrome: A Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention, The Physician And Sportsmedicine, Vol 31 (6).
- Istvan, B. & Way, R. (1998). Long Term Athlete Development Model Macrocycle and Microcycle Planning of the Annual Plan. Strength and Conditioning Coach Vol 5 No. 3.pp 3 – 10.
- Istvan, B. & Hamilton, A.E. (1995). Long Term Planning of Athlete Development “The Training To Train Phase.” Strength and Conditioning Coach Vol 3 No. 3.pp 4 - 11
- Lemyre, P-N., Stray-Gundersen, J., Treasure, D.C., Matt, K., & Roberts, G., (2004). Physiological and psychological markers of overtraining and burnout in elite swimmers, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 36(5), Supplement abstract 1024.
- Mc Ardle, W.D., Katch, F.I. & Katch, V.I., (1996). Exercise Physiology: Energy, nutrition and human performance 4th Edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- Mackinnon, L.T. & Hooper,S. Overtraining. University of Qld. pp 79 - 84.
- Marieb, E.N., (2003). Human Anatomy and Fitness 7th Edition. Massachusetts, NW: Benjamin/Cummings.
- Meir, R., (1994) A Model for the Intergration of Macrocycle and Microcyle Structure in Professional Rugby League. Strength and Conditioning Coach Vol 2 No.3. pp 6 – 12.
- Plowman, S.A. & Smith, D., 2003. Exercise Physiology for Health, Fitness and Performance. 2nd Edition. Benjamin Cummings.
- Powers, S.K., & Howley, E.T., (1997). Exercise Physiology. 3rd Edition. Madison, Wisconsin: Brown and Benchmark.
- Pyke, F.S. & Woodman, L.R. (1991). "Principals of Sports Training" in "Better Coaching Advanced Coach’s Manual" ed. F. Pyke, Belconnen, ACT: Australian Coaching Council.
- Rushall, B.S. & Pyke, F.S. (1993). Training for Sports and Fitness. Crows Nest, NSW. Macmillian Education Publishers.
- Sharkey, B.J. (1990). Physiology of Fitness. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
- Sharkey, B.J. (1986). Coaches Guide to Sport Physiology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
- Shield, T. (1995). The Application of Overload. Fitlink magazine. First Quarter 95. Coorparoo, Bne: Fitlink. pp13 -16.
- Tschiene, P. (1997). Theory of Conditioning Training: Classification of Loads and Modelling of Methods from Adapted Aspects. Leistungssport (Germany) Vol 27, No 4 July 1997.
- Urhausen, A., Coen, B., & Kindermann, W. (2001). Intensive training vs. rest: Effects on ergometric, hormonal and psychological results. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33(5), Supplement abstract 755.
- Uusitalo, A.L.T. (2001). "Overtraining: Making a Difficult Diagnosis and Implementing Targeted Treatment," The Physician and Sportsmedicine, Vol.29(5), pg.35
- Wilks, R. (1995). Training Theory and Strength Training. Strength and Conditioning Coach Vol 3 No.1.pp 10 – 15.
- Wilmore, J.H. & Costill, D.L. (1988) Training for Sport and Activity. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
- Wilmore, J.H. & Costill, D.L. (2004) Physiology of Sport and Exercise. 3rd Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
- Woodman, L.R. & Jarver, J. (1995) "Planning the Training Program" in "Better Coaching Advanced Coach’s Manual" ed. F. Pyke, Belconnen, ACT: Australian Coaching Council.
- Zatsiorsky, V.M., (1995). Science and practice of strength training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.