As we mentioned in our previous post, it is well worth planning your season in advance. The technical term for this is periodisation, and we are going to dive into this in a little more detail in this post.
Periodisation simply refers to breaking down your year, into periods of recovery, training and competition. This allows us to ensure we reach our physical peak at the right time, without hammering our body all year round and ending up in a chronically fatigued state. Before we go any further, here is a few technical terms to get your head around.
Macro cycle – This refers to the entire training period. This can be a single season, or in Olympic sports can be the entire Olympic cycle (4 years).
Mesocycle – This is a particular chunk of the training year, typically 1-3 months, which will have a specific focus.
Microcycle – this is the smallest phase of the training period, 1-2 weeks, and contains the nitty gritty details about how your training will look, eg. sets, reps and rest periods.
Mesocycles are broken down into 3 phases, an accumulation phase, a transmutation phase and a realisation phase. The microcycles fit into these different phases and will match up to the desired goal of that weeks training.
When it comes to planning the year I like to look at the big picture first, when will the athlete be competing, training and recovering and then work backwards from there, where I will then plan the mesocycles. As we mentioned mesocycles are a specific training period, where we may focus on creating a specific adaptation, or we may look to maintain a number of adaptations if we are in a competition phase. The microcycles then fit into the mesocycle, and involve all the details as to how we are going to achieve the aim of the mesocycle.
So why do all this? Planning your year this way firstly keeps coach and athlete on the same page with specific goals to work towards. This can help when motivation to train might be going through a bit of a lull. It also means we are building towards competition in a sequential way, with the main goal of peaking when competition starts. Exactly what this looks like will vary from athlete to athlete and sport to sport. With some sports such as weightlifting requiring a very specific peak, to CrossFit where a large number of components of fitness are required to peak at the same time for optimal performance.
Planning ahead also means that any particular weaknesses of the athlete are ironed out, or given the time to be improved, as early in the training cycle as possible. Training time is limited in all athletes, but particularly those of you who don’t have the luxury of training 4-5 hours per day. This means that you need to prioritise your time to your biggest weaknesses, which may mean some of your strengths will slide a little bit. By doing this as far away from competition as possible, it gives us time to bring your strengths back up and make you a better all round athlete.
Finally, planning ahead can help prevent you entering competition under cooked, or over fatigued. As you approach competition it is easy to get sucked into doing more and more intense training, however this is likely to lead to you being burnt out come game day. By planning and sequencing your training appropriately, we can make sure you have adapted to training and then recovered from the training enough to perform at your best.
Of course there may be a need to make adjustments to the plan as you progress through the year, but engaging in this process in advance and with your coach, can lead to you being as prepared as possible when it really counts. In the next blog post, I will discuss some of the different styles of periodisation, the pro's and con's and why/who I might use each style with and when.