Fall sports seasons are finally over – don’t be fooled by the 50 degree December weather – and that means it’s time to plan the off-season. I’ll be honest with you, folks; sitting down and figuring out a workout plan for myself for the next several months is low on my list of favorite activities. But it must be done so that I don’t end up as one of those people wandering aimlessly around the gym, doing a set here and there, hanging out on the bench and texting, etc, etc…. If you already ARE one of those people, put the magazine away, get off the stationary bike, and let’s talk about periodization.
Periodization can, at first, seem rather complex and, in the case of elite competitive athletes, be dizzyingly intricate. But the concept itself is actually simple: training for different physical goals during consecutive time frames throughout the year. This can be adapted for ANYONE with any goals!
The first steps are to nail down your ultimate goal(s) and determine the time frame for achieving the goal(s). For instance, you may be an athlete preparing for your next competitive season with specific weaknesses to hammer out, or someone preparing for an important life event who wants to fine tune their physique. Once you have the goals and time frame, you can plan your cycles.
Macrocycle: usually about a year’s time, but can be shorter
Mesocycles: anywhere from weeks to months long depending on how many different goals you have
Microcycles: usually a week for ease of planning workouts
The macrocycle usually has 3 parts: preparation, competition, and transition. Preparation will be general and specific and gets you ready for your main event. Competition can be a single event, a few events, or an entire season lasting several months. Transition is the rest period needed after all that time of training and competing. As this is cyclical, you then come back around again to preparation, where you evaluate a new set of goals and a new time frame!
The length of your preparation phase depends on whether you want to be at peak performance (or physique) at the beginning of the competition phase or at some point during the middle or end (ie. playoffs). Decide this and then you can split the preparation phase into its sections: general preparation and specific preparation.