What is Periodization?
Periodization is the method of varying a training program at regular time intervals to bring about optimal gains in physical performance. Unfortunately, many people don't know about this essential training method. The body is very smart and adapts quickly to anything you "usually" do. Your body adapts to the same routine and you might hit a plateau. Periodization training is effective because it exploits the body's great potential for adaptation. The simplest and most effective forms of periodization are varying intensity, weight, types of exercises, and rest times during your workout program.
In order to see results, you need constantly challenge your muscles in different ways. Periodziation breaks the training program into three cycles (or periods) that build up toward specific goals. These three cycles are the macrocycle, mesocycle and the microcycle. Periodized training will ensure that you continue to make measurable progress, which will keep you energized and interested in reaching your goals.
A training plateau is a time when you are no longer progressing in your workouts. The human body is incredibly adaptive, and will always try to respond in a manner that requires less energy. Homeostasis is a condition our body is very comfortable with. The body will always want to remain in a happy homeostatic state and ultimately protect itself. To keep seeing results you have to keep finding new challenges for your body.
Periodization is the key to overcoming your fitness plateaus. It can also help to prevent boredom and overtraining. The key to periodization training is to always "mix up" your routine so you force your muscles to be "shocked" and confused into growing stronger and bigger. So don't forget to vary your workouts in order to keep your body surprised.
A periodized training schedule is broken down into cycles (or periods) that are a lot like setting short and long term goals. There are three types of cycles you need to know: Macro, Micro and Meso.
Macrocycle is the largest and usually involve an entire sport year, but can last up to 4 years for an Olympic athlete for example.
A Mesocycle lasts four weeks and focused on a specific training purpose. The varying of volume and intensity within each mesocycle helps to avoid fatigue and over-training. Each mesocycle is divided into microcycles that usually range from one to four weeks.
A Microcycle is the shortest training cycle, typically consisting of a single week or two and based on the purpose of the mesocycle. In other words, the microcycle is used to accomplish the larger goals of the mesocycle. The microcyles include daily and weekly training variations.
The amount of time in each cycle is decided based on the goals and needs of the individual. These cycles help you divide your training into manageable timeframes with your fitness goals. Periodization training can take some time at first, as you lay out a long-term schedule, but the benefits will be well worth the extra effort.
Periodization Training Tips
- Try to avoid overtraining.
- Make sure to take time for rest and recovery.
- Vary your workouts every 2 to 4 weeks to prevent your body from adapting to the same training stress.
- Always do warm up before every workout to avoid injuries and to prepare your body for workout.
- Don't forget to do stretching exercises.
- Start a training journal.
- Stick to your training plan.