Strength & Conditioning Fundamentals: Periodization

In this post, we will discuss one of the pillars of modern strength and conditioning: periodization. 

Periodization simply is a term that refers to the pre-planning of different cycles of training. These cycles vary due to changing variables such as intensity, specificity, and volume (amongst others.) Periods vary from being general to complex. A generalized period might be perceived as simpler, non-specific to the individual sport, and often emphasizes volume. A complex period might be perceived as detailed, sport-specific, and often emphasizes intensity.

These cycles are also differentiated by length:
  • Macrocycles are several months to a year. Commonly referred to as an “annual” plan
  • Mesocycles are two to six weeks. Commonly referred to as a “block of training”
  • Microcycles are a few days to 2 weeks. Commonly a week in length.
Periodization should also coincide and be adapted based on the athlete’s specific sport season and/or competition. Let’s take for example a baseball athlete’s schedule:
  • Off-season: this training period should be a preparatory phase. This means that the athlete should establish their baseline exercise tolerance and begin to ramp up their training to higher intensities as the preseason draws nearer.
  • Pre-season: this training period should be a first transition phase. This is the link period between the preparatory phase and the competitive phase. This means that the athlete’s training should focus on developing near-peak strength and power as they ready themselves for the rigors of their season.
  • In-season: this training period should be a competition phase. This period should focus on maintaining the strength and endurance benefits from off-season and pre-season training periods. This means that the athlete should be at peak performance.
  • Post-season: this training period should be a second transition phase. This period should focus on active rest and recovery. This means that the athlete’s training should incorporate “unloading” and emphasize physical and mental refreshment.

Strength and conditioning can be a complex subject, but it doesn’t need to be! Use the information from this post to construct an individualized and specific periodization training regimen for yourself or others. Stay tuned for more Strength and Conditioning Fundamentals posts.

Blog Post Written by Dr. Nikky Gonzales PT, DPT, CSCS

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