Periodization: Make the Most of Your Training Season


If you’re wondering what “periodization” is, don’t worry – many people don’t quite understand it. Periodization isn’t a new trend or buzzword (it’s actually been around for decades), but once you know what it actually means, it may dramatically change the way you train – and it will help transform your body as well!

So what is periodization? Periodization is a training style that helps you divide the year into different training periods. Previously, the training was to maintain the same constant stresses year round. Could you imagine doing the same workouts week in and week out? Periodization helps you create periods of training that are easier than others to promote rest and to let the body grow stronger.

Periodization involves many variables including frequency (how often you train), duration (how long you train for one session), volume (how much you train in a given week or cycle) and intensity (how hard you train at any given time). From these variables a recipe is created that will hopefully help you reach your peak for the key race(s) you are training for. Here are the periodization phases:

Phase How long Frequency Duration Intensity Volume
Prep 4-8 weeks High Short-Medium Very little Low
Base 12-24 weeks High Medium- High Moderate Moderate-High
Build 4-8 weeks Moderate-High High Heavy Moderate
Peak/Race 3-5 weeks Moderate Short Heavy Low

The Prep Phase is a period of time from four to eight weeks. It involves performing aerobic activities at a low heart rate and it helps your body adjust to the rigors of training again. This is also the time to work on your drills for swimming, strides in running, and isolated leg pedaling.

Base Phase lasts anywhere from twelve to twenty four weeks and the phase continues to focus on increasing your aerobic capacity and improving your efficiency with drills and skill workouts.

During the Build Phase, intensity increases and volume decreases during the four to eight weeks. The key to this phase is to become more efficient and faster. You can do this by adding intervals into your workouts.

The final phase right before the big race is called Peaking. This is hard to do because you want to prepare yourself to perform your best at the upcoming race.  But in order to peak for the race, you’ll want to taper down your training (let your body rest and restore).  The volume of workouts is low, intensity is high and duration is short.  Some athletes like to go for high frequency instead and others cut way back on frequency – it’s your personal choice.

Still not sure if you should add periodization into your fitness plan?  Here are a few benefits:

  • If you know your workouts are helping you work towards a specific goal, and if you know you have a reprieve from training in the future, you’ll be less likely to skip a workout.
  • Doing the same thing over and over again not only becomes boring; it also eventually guarantees that you will hit a fitness plateau. Nothing kills motivation more than boredom and a lack of results. Periodized training plans help you burst through a fitness plateau and beat the workout blues.
  • Structured training plans can result in long-term success because they help to ensure your goals are specific, appropriate, measurable and realistic.
  • Regularly repeating the same workout can lead to overuse injuries. If you always run, try dancing. If you always lift weights, try Pilates. Mix up the workouts to avoid injury.

Periodization is to ensure long term improvement, avoid plateaus, and make sure you are in peak condition at the appropriate time in your race season. Without periodization, you can achieve solid fitness, but reaching your “peak potential” at the time you want it to happen, will be unlikely. Contact me to see if periodization training is right for you. By incorporating it into your workout, you may just reach new fitness heights and meet your 2018 goals.


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