Periodisation Training

Periodisation Training

The Method

Periodisation is the athletic equivalent of an annual business plan. This method allows the athlete and trainer to create an organized yet flexible plan, or macrocycle, in order to reach a specific goal during a specific period of time. Personal trainers utilize this approach with athletes of all levels in order to effectively prepare for a competitive event or season.

The Macrocycle

The macrocycle itself represents the long-term plan the athlete and trainer create in order to train more effectively for the season or competitive goal. This plan is often a year in linear time to coordinate with the competitive season and societal rhythm, although this is flexible. The macrocycle can be dissected into three components or phases: preparation, competition, and transition.

Phases of the Macrocycle

As with most elements in life, the preparatory phase makes up the bulk of the macrocycle. During this portion of the training cycle, the athlete, under the professional guidance of a trainer, builds endurance and muscle while increasing competition-specific skills in an efficient way. The specifics of the preparation phase will vary based on the specific goals and needs of the athlete.

Flexibility is key during this phase of training as the specific needs and goals of the individual may wax and wane as the athlete grows and changes during training. For this reason, the personal trainer plays a vital role in recognizing where the athlete is in relation to his or her long-term goal and  how to customize the training plan in order to move the athlete through the phases of the macrocycle with efficiency and results.

The second portion of the macrocycle, or competitive phase, accounts for all of the activities immediately preceding and during the competition or athletic season itself. During this time, the trainer may engage the athlete in testing to ascertain specific performance levels. Other concerns during this time include checking and modifying competitive equipment and tweaking tactics or approaches to the competition itself.

The final phase of the macrocycle is transition. This portion represents a rest period. This vacation, which varies in length based on the individual athlete, allows the athlete to recover both physically and psychologically before beginning another macrocycle with new goals.

Mesocycles and Microcycles

As with all types of planning, a successful outcome requires breaking the overarching goals into smaller, more manageable pieces. In periodisation training, these smaller portions of the overall plan are referred to as mesocycles and  microcycles. A microcycle is a short, immediate goal. Generally, a microcycle correlates with a calendar week as this allows the trainer and athlete to coordinate training with daily life.

These small segments of training are strung together into groups of two to six microcycles to create a mesocycle. The number of microcycles in a specific mesocycle varies depending on the trainer, the athlete’s needs and goals, and the phase of the macrocycle. Mesocycles are generally longer during the preparation phase. The purpose of the mesocycle is to ensure that the athlete is making steady improvement in performance and skill level throughout the phases of the training plan.


The benefits of this type of training plan have been recorded in sports-specific literature since 1972. This approach disallows over-training while fostering improvement in the areas of performance, strength, endurance, and muscle hypertrophy, or increase in the size of the cells within the muscle fibers themselves. Periodisation allows an athlete, under the guidance of a trainer, to modify the training plan so that the athlete peaks during the competitive season or event.

This method is effective for professional athletes and weekend warriors alike.  Indeed, I utilize this method with my clients at my studio and also my many online clients to help them with their fitness goals, no matter how large or small and achieve those goals in a stream-lined way.

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