We all know that it is important to have an effective training programme. It has a whole host of long term perks by; improving our fitness, reducing risk of injury and overtraining, whilst also making sure we make an efficient use of our time (amongst a whole other range of benefits).
So we need to ensure we can plan and create a training programme that is best for ourselves as an individual. This article will introduce you to the concept of sports periodisation as a method of creating your training programme. It will help you to reach personal, aesthetic or even competitive goals by preparing your training properly.
First Steps | Setting your goals
The first thing you need to do is set your goals. Do this by gathering data that is relevant to your goals. This may be your weight, your speed, your max rep strength etc. Get these recorded and set yourselves some goals.
However, whilst you’re doing this, aim to split them into outcome, performance and process goals.
- Outcome goals are the end result after all of your training. An example may be to win an amateur body building competition, or to lose 10kg.
- Performance goals benchmark where you are at certain stages. For example; bench press 100kg by December.
- Process goals are things that you are going to do in order to achieve your outcome and performance goals, such as doing weight training 3 times a week.
Using these 3 goals really helps to separate your journey towards your ultimate goals and allows you to see things more clearly and realistically.
What is Periodisation?
Once you have set your goals, we can focus on the concept of periodisation. Periodisation is where you split your training into three cycles: macrocycles, mesocycles and microcycles.
Macrocycle = 1-4 years
Mesocycle = 4-8 weeks
Microcyle = 1-2 weeks
You use these cycles to base your training around. You train around a macrocycle (1-4 years) and you do this by working in micro (1-2 weeks)/mesocycles (4-8 weeks). By doing this, you can plan training for a specific time frame and complete it. Once you have finished that, you can either increase/decrease the volume/intensity of the training or move to a different phase of your training.
This may be pre-season of a football season where one mesocycle involves pre-season fitness of a high volume/intensity and then is reduced in the next cycle as more specific sessions occur to become finely tuned for the competitive season.
Step Loading Tip
When you are planning your different cycles, we encourage that you use the principle of step loading. This is where you increase your training load for a mesocycle and then keep it the same for the whole mesocycle before increasing the intensity again. This allows for a better and more effective adaptations by the body. Yes, you have to be patient to get the results!
Peaking and Tapering
If you are using periodisation for competitions and you want to peak at the right time, tapering should be included in your macro/mesocycles. This is where you progressively decrease the load of training 4-7 days to 4-6 weeks before an event. This ensures you have sufficient energy (preventing fatigue), do not over-train and do not increase the risk of injury. We advise any athlete to use this. By using periodisation in your training ensures you give yourself sufficient time to make the adaptations and taper your training.
Benefits of periodisation
There are many pros of using this method to plan your training.
- It improves your motivation as it is a more measurable form of planning which you can compare yourself against as you are progressing through your training.
- It prevents overtraining. Periodisation allows you to set a training load that is appropriate and gives time for your body to adapt by using the step loading principle. This will also help to prevent fatigue which can affect your training progression.
- Periodisation is also a time efficient method of planning. It allows you to set your training out in a long term format and can help you get the most out the time you have. Doing frequent but shorter sessions can be better than long and infrequent sessions, keep this in mind!
So now you know what periodisation is! A cyclical training programme that you can use to tailor to any goal. If you use this effectively, there should be no excuse for not being able to smash your training goals!
About the Author
Connor Stead and Andrew Triggs are Sport and Exercise Science students who write about training, nutrition and supplementation in exercise. Their background in sport comes mainly from football where they coach and compete at university level. More recently, they have started giving training and nutritional advice through Instagram (@trainingwithscience).