By Joe Friel

Periodization is a training concept in which the year is divided into distinct periods, with each having a particular purpose in preparing the athlete for the stresses of racing.  As the training year progresses, a properly periodized program gradually causes the athlete to adapt to the specific conditions of the targeted races.

The basic premise of Periodization is that training should progress from creating general fitness to producing fitness that exactly matches the demands of the most important races of the year…In the annual training plan you create…the season will be divided into six distinct periods;

In the late fall or early winter, following a break from training, fitness development is the most general of the entire season.  Cross-training with weights and aerobic activities such as running, skiing or swimming prepares the athlete for the next period.  This is a period of ‘training to train’ that may last three to eight weeks.

In this 6-12 week block, on-bike training gradually replaces cross-training.  Base is divided into three subperiods-Base 1, Base 2, and Base 3-of three to four weeks each.  The last few days (up to a week) of each of these is devoted to rest, recovery and testing.  The training emphasis in all three is on the basic abilities of endurance, force and speed skills.

In the period the specific demands of racing are paramount.  That usually means more time devoted to the higher abilities of muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance and power….Build 1, when the body is cautiously allowed to adjust to anaerobic training, is a bridge between Base 3 and Build 2.  Build 1 and Build 2 may each last three to four weeks with rest and recovery in the last few days of each [week].

A peak period may last one or two weeks.  During this time, volume is gradually reduced and workouts become like miniraces.  In fact, low-priority racing is a great way to help produce a peak.  About every 72 hours, include a workout that simulates the intensity and conditions of the targeted race, but for less than race duration…All other workouts are for recovery.

This is the period for which you’ve been preparing for weeks.  Physical fitness high, mental skills are sharp and race readiness is high.  One brief, race-specific workout about four days before before the big race, with lots of rest on either side of it, will ensure mental and physical peak….Remember, the longer this period is stretched out, the great the risk of losing fitness due to decreased training.  [2 weeks max]

following a race period, it’s generally a good idea to take a break from training to allow for physical and mental transition from the Race period before starting a buildup to a new peak.  The transition period following a midseason Race period may only be a week long.  The purpose of the Transition period is rest and recovery.