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Periodization training is the division of a training year(s) into a cycle of of several phases, each phase devoted to different training methods and objectives.  In it’s most general form, a periodized training program will span 6 months to one year with the exception of Olympic athletes who plan for four years.  Each phase is divided up over the designated time period with each phase devoted to one aspect of training.

Conditioning Phase or Base Period

Training should begin easy and be followed by gradual increases in the time and intensity of an athlete’s training session.  It’s important to note that at the beginning, athletes will probably be sore for a minimum of three weeks as their bodies get used to the training program.  A good guideline to follow during the beginning stages of training is the “10% rule” – meaning that after the initial three weeks are over, the volume of training should not increase much greater than 10% from one week to the next.  During this phase, all aspects of the training program are introduced with the primary focus being on getting the athlete into better shape.

Pre-competition or Pre-season Phase

While this phase may include participation in a few competitions, this phase is used to help the athlete prepare physically and mentally for competitions.  Aerobic capacity should be continuously improved upon as well as time, distance, quality and quantity of training. This is the time where the athlete and coach need to have input in determining how the training is progressing and where it needs to go.

Competition Phase

During this part of training, the athlete starts focusing on their individual strengths with their coach helping them to train to use those strengths during competition.  Tactics become more important as athletes learns from their competition experiences. 

Transition Phase

Following the end of the competition season, it’s a good idea for athletes to take a complete break from their training.  Many athletes need 2-3 weeks for the mind and body to heal.  While some athletes may decide to do other forms of exercise during that time period, others just rest.  Aerobic capacity will decline a bit while the athlete is resting, but beginning the training again at an easy pace with the conditioning phase beginning for the next season.

The most important thing to consider before starting a periodization training schedule is the design of the program. When creating your program it is important to take into account the ability of the athlete, type of sport and goals the training schedule is designed to meet.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Fleck S. Non-Linear Periodization for General Fitness & Athletes. Journal Of Human Kinetics. December 2, 2011;:41-45.
2. Gamble P. Periodization of Training for Team Sports Athletes. Strength & Conditioning Journal (Allen Press). October 2006;28(5):56-66.
3. Kelly V, Coutts A. Planning and Monitoring Training Loads During the Competition Phase in Team Sports. Strength & Conditioning Journal (Allen Press). August 2007;29(4):32-37.
4. Kravitz L, Herrera L. Is There a Best Periodization Model?. IDEA Fitness Journal. April 2008;5(4):19-22.
5. Macaluso T. Periodization and Complex Training in a High School Summer Program. Strength & Conditioning Journal (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins). December 2010;32(6):95-98.
6. Painter K, Haff G, Stone M, et al. Strength Gains: Block Versus Daily Undulating Periodization Weight Training Among Track and Field Athletes. International Journal Of Sports Physiology & Performance. June 2012;7(2):161-169.

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