Periodization: Latest Studies and Practical Applications
By Christopher C. Frankel and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.
Periodization is an organized approach to training that involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time.
Periodization is most widely used in resistance programs designed to avoid over-training and to systematically alternate high loads of training with decreased loading phases to improve components of muscular fitness (e.g. strength, strength-speed, and strength-endurance).
This system of training is typically divided up into three types of cycles: microcycle, mesocycle, and macrocycle. The microcycle is generally up to 7 days. The mesocycle may be anywhere from 2 weeks to a few months and can further be classified into preparation, competition, peaking, and transition phases. The macrocycle refers to the overall training period, usually representing a year.
Coaches and athletes have long been aware of the benefit of changing the training stimulus at regular, or even irregular intervals. Tapering training volume prior to competition, planned periods of active rest, and interspersing power and strength workouts to challenge different energy systems are all attempts to exploit the General Adaptation Syndrome.
There may be psychological factors that additionally influence the quality and quantity of work performed during training. While the body of research pertaining to periodization focuses on the effect of varying volume and exercise intensity, it should be clear that these are not the only variables that determine training adaptations.
Other influential components of any program include:
(1) choice of exercises
(2) order of exercises
(3) resistance or load
(4) number of sets per exercise
(5) number of exercises per muscle group
(6) repetition range
(7) type of contraction
(8) speed of movement
(9) rest periods between sets
(10) rest periods between training sessions, and
(11) nutritional status
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