Periodization is a concept that can be viewed in a very simple fashion or at a very complex level. In theory it is the management of work, stress, volume, and intensity versus rest in a systematic fashion. The objective is to create a strategy for the training that produces the maximum amount of improvement allowing athletes and non-athletes to reap the greatest benefit from training in the least amount of time without suffering an injury. It also integrates training into the competitive calendar of an athlete during their competitive season.
As mentioned before one of the most important parts of a successful training program is the strategy developed around the training to reach a particular goal. The tactics are the day to day training modalities that support this strategy. If the strategy is weak then the tactics do not have as much of the intended effect and the athlete’s progression is slowed or reversed. Therefore, periodization should be a large part of the strategy for an athlete. From my experience you see endurance athletes or cyclic sports paying the most attention to periodization. I think that is because the volume of training time is typically greater. Also with cyclic sports, the training and the sport are often times the same. Think of cycling. In other sports or non-cyclic sports the strength and conditioning is usually much different than the sport; think tennis. However, non-cyclic sports would be well served to look closer at periodization to maximize training results. At Sirens and Titans Fitness www.sirensandtitansfitness.com we utilize periodization principles in the training of our athletes in both cyclic and non-cyclic sports as well as with personal training clients.
So in principal periodization is a well-planned, systematic, methodical training plan that maximizes the concept of overload and adaptation. This periodization should address the neuromuscular requirements of a sport, the metabolic requirements, and the cardio respiratory requirements.
I have found the most effective method to creating an effective periodization is to work backwards. The training should be based on an evaluation of the current fitness level and how these relate to the goal of training. The eastern bloc countries during the 1960s and 70s were structuring 10 year periodizations... I think the periodization should be long. Today’s fast food mentality makes this difficult for many and increases the risk for overloads that are too great and subsequently injure or over train the athlete. It is important that the long term perspective is evaluated even though many would state that 10 years from now is not that important today. That is a naive perspective that will hurt the progression of the athlete in the long run. By working backward and understanding the starting point, coupled with a goal, a periodization can be developed.
Overloads and regeneration must be monitored and managed through the periodization. This progression and regeneration both in the short run and long run must be monitored and measured. This also allows the strength coach to better understand total stress on the body, plus how athletes and individuals adapt and respond to training stress. Training stress is cumulative and must be measured both on a macro basis and a micro basis.
There are different periodization methods. Linear: Just regular increases in volume or intensity of different energy needs. Concurrent: No real focus, but work on all areas of fitness needed. Conjugated: Has a more focused approach to particular needs of the athletes and move from need to need, block periodization where you build different fitness needs and block them together over time. Endurance athletes have a tendency to lean toward block or concurrent. I like concurrent with less mature athletes as there are typically a number of areas that need attention. Personally I like the conjugated system. I try to have a primary objective in each workout so that I am walking away with an overload in a particular area of need. I determine the objectives by an initial evaluation and then ongoing monitoring of performance in and out of the gym. The last model, which is not included above, is the worst and the one used most. Random efforts without any thought to design. It is seat of the pants periodization. You may get lucky, but you will never realize your true potential and will hit plateaus for long periods of time and grow frustrated with your lack of progress.
The periodization is usually broken into micro cycles and macro cycles. The coach must understand the energy systems utilized by the athlete for a particular sport and the time it takes for the athlete to recover. Without this understanding training becomes a patchwork of stresses and recovery that does not maximize training time. The goal should be both physical and psychological. The psychological aspect is of even greater importance with an athlete.
So, What is your preferred method?
"Truth in Fitness"
Jacques DeVore, CSCS, Primal Health Coach