In the last article – Taekwondo Training – Periodization – we had a brief introduction explaining what periodization is and why it is important. Hopefully you have written your goals and your training elements down as advised.
However we now have all of this information and need to put it into a coherent plan that works in one direction taking us step by step closer to our ultimate goal. Whatever your goal is, whether it be making National Team for the Olympic Games or winning a local competition, the planning process is quite similar… getting to the Olympic Games just takes a little bit longer that’s all 🙂
The underlying principle of periodization is to ‘train smart, not hard’. It is not about going out there and training yourself into the ground and bashing your body to oblivion.
There will be times when you have to train so hard that you wish you were never born but rest through supercompensation is an enormously important factor. More on that in future articles and more on SMART. The SMART principle can be used in all walks of life but is hugely important within the concept of periodization and can be classified as training which is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time based.
The best way to understand periodization is like thinking about building a house. A yearly training programme (that can span shorter or longer that a year) is called a Macrocycle.
A macrocycle is the first thing to decide upon when designing your programme, without a long term goal, you have nothing that holds you accountable to yourself which is why so many people fall off exercise regimes ever so regularly. Macrocycles would be equivalent to your yearly training plan or metaphorically completing the building of the house itself.
When building a house it would probably be unwise to start building the roof first and then look at the foundations last. As we all know strong houses are built on strong foundations so we usually start from the bottom up. This is where the Training Phases come in to play.
Training phases are split into categories that allow us to build up to our goals gradually. So looking at it from the house point of view its like phases leading up to a competition. The foundations are classified as the Transition/Pre season preparation phase, the ground floor is classified as the General preparation phase, the second floor is classified as the Sports Specific preparation phase and the final part of the structure the roof is the Competition phase.
Each floor/structure is divided into rooms/spaces to give some order to the whole building. There can be anything from 2 to 8 rooms on a floor depending on the size of the house and this is where Mesocycles come into play. Mesocycles are the monthly training plans, usually lasting anywhere between 4-12 weeks long depending on what intensity you will be training at.
After you have your room structures built, this is where you add the smaller details. The windows, the doors, the lights… you get the point. These smaller details are called Microcycles and are the small steps that lead you through each mesocycle.
Microcycles are usually classified based by the week. This is where someone would start to decide what exercises to choose from to best suit the goal of each separate mesocycle. The individual sessions within each microcycle could be classified as the bricks of the structure, adding strength, depth and direction to the building brick by brick.
Seems really simple doesn’t it?
You would think so but the problem is the human body isn’t made to go on and on like a machine so if we kept the training cycle going and going continually without any rest periods within the cycles we would soon start to see overtraining syndrome. This is a drop in performance on the basis of doing too much training (recall the train smart, not hard mantra) and more on this in other articles.
To avoid overtraining is where we factor Transition phases into our training programme. Transition phases are usually, along with everything else, dependent on the goals (macrocycles and mesocycles) of the programme. Transition can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks in between cycles.
Transitions are your recovery time; a chance for your body to catch up with the gains that were made, which will prevent overtraining. Transitions do not simply mean stop exercising, they mean do something active that doesn’t normally get done, something refreshing to your physiological and mental states. Stay active, but stay away from normal routine.
This article gives us a very, very basic view of periodization but covers all of the important factors that need consideration. You will notice in this that gains are not made as quickly, but long term results will be more consistent.
By having those transition phases in your training, you will be able to train consistently for years without overtraining at all, whereas non-periodized trainers will plateau and overtrain much faster. Your body will get the rest it needs, and therefore the goals will eventually come. This is why macrocycles are important, to make sure you can allow yourself sufficient time to reach the ultimate goals.
Please let me know what you thought of the article in the comments box and if there’s anything in particular you want to know, feel free to include that too. 🙂