Anyone who has a long history in training knows that after reaching a certain level of physical development results just stop improving. You keep doing right things, that have brought you results in the past, but now they just dont work. It's like there is an invisible wall that you cannot get through. To overcome this wall such thing as periodisation was invented.
An approach to training that splits time into cycles. Every cycle has its own programming, planning and goals.
The idea behind periodisation is to overcome plateaus when results do not improve over a long period of time.
Firstly, periodisation was linear, with gradual increase in workload and consisted of three phases:
- first phase, preparational, workloads are 75-85% of current maximum with increase in 2-4 weeks up to 90-95%.
- second phase, training, uses workloads 90-100% of current maximum.
- third phase, peak, increase of workload to 100% of new maximum.
To put it simply, the idea of linear periodisation is to step up gradually until you reach a new peak. After that you make several steps back and start over.
As time passed it became clear that there is a more effective way to periodise: wave periodisation, when workload increases and decreses alternate.
In wave periodisation, you, for example, do two steps forward and one step back. Thus you move ahead with each cycle and it makes your progress more efficient than in the case of linear periodisation.
Ways to change training volume:
- increase in the number of repetitions
- increase in the number of sets
- increase in training frequency
Ways to change training intensity:
- increase in weights
- decrease of rest period
- increase in tempo
It is also possible to look at periodisation more globally. There are 10 trainable physical qualities (according to CrossFit journal):
- speed of adaptation
- cardiovascular and respiratory systems
It is clear that some of them are opposite to each other and it is not possible to train them simultaneously. For instance, strength and balance or strength and accuracy. To improve strength, you need to increase load in one of exercises and this exercise should be performed with good technique and coordination. That is this exercise will not improve balance and coordination and so on. That is why these qualities are trained separately one after another during different periods throughout a training year.
Typically, when talking about periodisation these terms are used:
Training session: a single workout with a local goal to improve certain qualities like strength, hypertrophy or weight loss.
Microcycle: a row of workouts or training days, up to seven. It can target local goals like recovery or “shock”.
Mesocycle: a row of microcycles. A unit of a training programme that lasts for a couple of months and typically consists of eight microcycles. Its purpose is to improve one of the above-mentioned qualities.
Macrocycle: a sum of mesocycles. The macrocycle’s target is to reach the major goal of the whole training programme.