Monday, June 9, 2008

Athletic Periodization Training...What Is It?

Periodization training? What is that? Well, it is a method of athletic training that helps you avoid injuries, avoid over-training and allows you to peak at the right time---during the season. The program should be tailored to the individual and her or his sport.

Periodization is not a new concept. The proper use of periodization training techniques will allow you to compete at a high level during the season.

In periodization, annual training is divided into different phases to allow you to progress to the next phase of training. In each phase, you will train to achieve certain goals.

Each phase prepares you for the next phase of training. If you don't reach the goals of a phase, you cannot move on to the next phase of training.

The periodization plan is usually broken up into four phases. Each phase may last anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months. The annual training plan can be divided into 2 major periods known as macro-cycles.

This typically indicates that there are two major seasons in the sport such as baseball (summer leagues and winter leagues) and basketball (winter leagues and summer leagues). The macro-cycle is divided into the meso-cycle (one or more months) and the micro-cycle (weekly).

The weekly cycle is very important because it allows the trainer to make adjustments as needed.

Here is a brief discussion of each phase of periodization training:

Phase 1 - General Physical Preparation

This phase of training prepares you for the more intense phases to follow. General strength and conditioning is accomplished by strengthening the core and all other major muscle groups and joint structures. The cardiovascular and nervous systems are also developed.

This phase of training is also used to rehabilitate injuries and correct any postural dysfunctions. Strength training is high volume and low intensity.

This means training with lighter weights and higher repetitions. All athletes need this phase of training. Elite athletes won't need as much time in this phase as a beginning or low-level athlete.

Phase 2 - Sport-Specific Training

This phase of training begins as the first phase is ending. This phase of training is sport-specific. The exercises mimic the actions made in your sport and strength is developed in the same range of motion used in the sport.

Running exercises also duplicate what you need to compete. For instance, football players would need starting speed, acceleration speed, speed endurance and power. Both training volume and intensity is high during this phase. This is a critical phase for the elite athlete.

Phase 3 - Training During The Season

During this phase of training, increases in strength and speed may still be needed (as in track and field). In other sports, such as baseball or football, strength and power needs to be maintained during the season.

Phase 4 - Post-Season Training

After the season, you need to recuperate physically and mentally. Active rest is often used for this purpose. For instance, a football player might enjoy playing basketball in the off-season.

This allows you to stay in relatively good shape and begin the next phase of training fresh and healthy. You can also make greater physical gains and have a better season the next year.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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