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Periodization is a common term to those who design strength training programs. It is an integral part of the planning process for athlete and team success. There are many different variations utilized in the United States. For the purpose of this article, I am focusing on the terminology and definitions that I was introduced to at the beginning of my career in the mid-80’s.

What is Periodization?

Periodization is based on scientific and theoretical principles. It helps organize the training year by breaking the calendar down into “periods” that can allow an individual or team to peak at designated points during the year.

Breaking the training calendar down into periods.
Periodization breaks the training calendar down into periods.

Cycles of Training

There are three phases that represent the training year:

1. Macrocycle

a. The Annual Plan

b. Entire training year

c. In team sports, usually begins at the completion of the competitive season

2. Mesocycle

a. Usually 4-12 weeks in duration

b. Implemented to create specific training effects during the designated time period

3. Microcycle

a. Weekly cycles

b. Used for variation

c. Weekly changes in volume and training intensity

Phases of Training

• Preparation Phase

- Off season (personal note – hate this term)

- Building phase

- Beginning training phase of the annual plan

- Follows active rest/transition stage

- Broad base of training exercises

• Pre-Competition Phase

- Second phase of the annual plan

- Usually will equal the total weeks of the competitive phase

- Exercises begin to become more specific to program goals

• Competitive Phase

- In season training phase

- Length depends on season, number of competitions

- Overall volume is decreased

- Frequency of off field training session decreased

- Exercises are highly specific to action s and movements of the sporting activity

• Active Rest/Transition

- Recovery period

- Rehabilitation of injuries

- Involvement in other activities

- Very low intensity and volume phase

Periodization is a must in planning the training of your athletes and teams. Proper planning will lead to success. Again, there are several variations of periodization that are available. Regardless of which one you chose, having a framework to begin the process with is a must for program design.


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