What is periodization?

For some of us, including me, our first race is only 8 weeks away. It may not be a high priority race but a race you have chosen to blow the cobwebs out and sharpen your race skills. So what should we be doing differently in the next 8 weeks? That brings me to the topic of this blog…’periodization’.

Dr. Tudor Bompa is considered a world leader in the training of athletes across a number of sports. He took the ideas of Russian sports scientists conducting experiments on athletes in the 1940’s and developed his own theories about periodization in the 1960’s. Periodization involves breaking down a training plan into specific periods. Each period will have a different emphasis e.g. aerobic endurance or muscular strength. Periods of relative rest following periods of high training volumes are used to promote recovery so that the athlete becomes fitter, stronger and faster while minimising the risk of injury and overtraining.

An annual training plan can broken down into four or five periods or phases. These phases include the ‘preparation’ phase, the ‘base’ phase, the ‘build’ phase, the ‘peak/race’ phase and the ‘transition’ phase. The base and build phases may be broken down further into ‘blocks’. For example, if you have an 8 weeks build phase you might split this into two four weeks blocks. Within these blocks you might have three weeks of intense training followed by one week of relative rest with reduced training volumes.

The variables that change within each phase include: frequency (how ‘often’ you train), duration (how ‘long’ you train in a single session) and intensity (how ‘hard’ you train at any given time). These variables are manipulated to achieve a specific training response. The bottom line is the closer we get to a ‘priority race’ the more like the race your training must become.

There is more to come on periodization so stay tuned! Tim (LFTC Coach)