Periodization: The systematic application of overload through the pre-planned variation of program proponents to optimize gains in strength (or any specific component of fitness), while preventing overuse, staleness, overtraining, and plateaus. (Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals).
Basically, it’s alternating easy, moderate, and hard phases of training. Using periodization is probably the best way to avoid overtraining and help you get the most benefits out of your exercise program. Using the right periodization strategy will help boost fitness gains and will train your body to be in the best shape for a specific time frame, such as for a race.
This can be done over months or even within a single week depending on what you are wanting to accomplish. Using periodization can help you achieve your goals and help you develop a program that provides results.
- Doing the same workouts and same intensity all the time, you’re bound to hit a plateau. Many of us just keep doing the same things not knowing how to change up an exercise program or know the benefits of making changes. Switching the type of exercise, intensity, repetitions, rest intervals, or tempo, will enable you to alternate low and high intensity workouts. This will help your body get the proper recovery.
- Rotating periods of training with the focus on intensity, time, distance, and volume or workload lets your body rest and adjust which is a huge benefit. Consistently making changes to an exercise program is more effective and decreases risk of injury.
- Periodized training can be divided into cycles. A macrocycle is the overall time frame of a program or goal, usually 6-12 months. This long-range goal can be split into mesocycles that are typically 2 weeks to 3 months long and are designed to help move you toward the overall goal of the macrocycle. A microcycle is the shortest timeframe and helps to reach the goal of the mesocycle. For example: you may have a 6 month macrocycle that has 2 mesocycles of 3 months each and 12 microcycles of 2 weeks each.
- By alternating the intensity of exercise, you have more control of the physical stress put on the body. If intensity is low, volume can be high.
- Changing up your workouts every eight to twelve weeks will help you to continually make changes and avoid the dreaded plateau.
Periodization can be used for strength training programs, cardiovascular programs, and also nutrition. (Here is some information on Periodized Nutrition for Athletes ).
To get the most out of your training and increase fitness gains, using periodization will definitely be helpful. Cycling through days of low-intensity, high-intensity, and proper recovery is very beneficial and will make it easier to achieve your fitness goals!
Do you periodize your training?
What steps do you take if you hit a plateau?