Training Periodization Part 1/2

I have heard from quite a few of my readers who are excited to learn more about training periodization when I first mentioned it in the very first article I wrote on training factors. You are going to love this article series! I finally start to tie it all together.

I may have confused some of my readers in the past as I have used the terms periodized training and structured training in the same articles. I use these frequently to describe what goes into an annual training plan.

Coaches will organize training in a manner to bring about the greatest physiological changes in there athletes leading up to an event/competition to develop their top form. If you remember from my most recent article, athletic form is optimal fitness and freshness brought about by completing several cycles of training and recovery.

What I did not cover in the previous article was the cycles of training. Periodized training consists of the following training cycles:

The Macrocycle refers to the phases of training that make up an annual training plan. Depending on the sport, coach or sports scientist you may have 3 or more phases of training. I will be sharing the phases that I use to train competitive cyclists in this article.

The Mesocycle refers to a phase of training that has a duration of 2-6 weeks. These phases are ordered and serve to help the athlete to create continuous physical adaptations.

The Microcycle refers to a weeks worth of training in any given Mesocycle. In a periodized annual training plan these Microcycles can look very repetitive in a training plan but if you look closely you will discover that while the work outs are very similar in a given Mesocycle the Microcycle will show changes in training volume but usually not intensity from week to week.

I don’t want new athletes to get to hung up on training cycles but instead have a greater understanding of what makes up an annual training plan and the subsequent phases. The phases of the annual training plan are where the rubber meets the road for athletes. As a coach and an athlete I have chosen to use 6-7 training phases.  These training phases are as follows: Base 1*, Base 2, Base 3, Build 1, Build 2, Race and Transition.

So where do the all of the training factors come into play from the last several articles? The training factors are spread across these training phases! Some training factors will have focus in 1-2 training phases and some will be present through out all of the training phases. Some training factors will have more focus than others depending on what an athlete and her or his coach thinks needs to be developed, such as improving a weakness or enhancing a strength.

For the rest of this article I will be covering the 2-3 phases of Base Training and what training factors are employed in each of the Base Training Phases.

Base Training sometimes called preparatory or even foundation training is the most important aspect of training for ALL ATHLETES! We do not skip base training but it’s cycle length maybe reduced. If you saw in the above listing of all training phases that I use I have an * after Base 1. I train athletes that practically race year round and in their case it simply isn’t possible to do 3 phases of base training. If you are a new endurance athlete in your first 2-3 years you should complete all 3 base phases. Base training is also the beginning of your annual training and is used to get your body ready for the harder more race/event specific training in the upcoming build phases. I have heard many an athlete talk about base training in reverence and sometimes fear. Why this reverence and fear? So the fear is If base training isn’t done or is only done half-heartedly you will not have a good season, The reverence comes from getting time away from hard intensity and riding what some call LSD riding. LSD riding refers to either Long Steady Distance or Long Slow Distance. In my coaching I refer to it as Long Steady Distance. Professional cyclists will often ride very easy for 6-8 hours at a time! Many of us die-hard amateurs don’t have time for this much training but we need to make time for some easy miles.

Base 1, training is a 3-4 week Mesocycle that starts most athletes’ off-season. Base 1 is meant to get your head and body back in the process of training. You will be working on cross training, strength training and of course endurance training. Experienced athletes that race almost year round will typically skip Base 1 but may incorporate some cross training in Base 2 where new riders would not. Each phase of base training should be thought of as preparation for harder training. In other words training to train. Training factors that are focused on in Base 1 will include endurance, strength, flexibility, and speed.

Base 2, training is a 3-4 week Mesocycle that may be the start of off season training for more experienced athletes or it may mean added development for new athletes. Cross training is usually removed in Base 2 so that athletes can begin to focus on their primary sport. Just as in Base 1, Base 2 will incorporate endurance, strength, flexibility, and speed and begin the introduction of force and muscle endurance. Base 2 will also see an increase in daily and weekly training volumes. It becomes imperative with the advent of Base 2 training that athletes get serious about their recovery in order to complete prescribed training volumes.

Base 3, training is the final 3-4 week Mesocycle for developing strength, force and muscle endurance. Why didn’t I mention speed, agility, flexibility and endurance? For one, all of your training for the year has the potential to improve your speed, agility, flexibility and endurance. While the training factors strength, force and muscle endurance will have been about as developed as they are going to be without potentially bringing about over training. I find that most often that strength, force and muscle endurance that are usually involved in an athletes weaknesses and will put an emphasis on these factors during the base period where training stress is low and training intensity is not a constant burden for the athlete. As mentioned above endurance development is a constant for an endurance athlete but is typically not focused on after the first 2-3 Base phases of training. When you move into Build 1 and 2 and begin to focus on anaerobic development you will also improve your endurance capacity. However the vast majority of your endurance development will occur in Base 1-3.

In the next article I will cover the last of the training phases Build 1, Build 2, Race and Transition.

I hope you found this article helpful and I welcome questions and feedback. Any questions you pose will be answered in the next article! If you need questions answered sooner you can contact me through my web site listed below.

Until then have a great week and start thinking how you can plan your off season training.


Coach Rob

Have a great ride


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