Periodization – What is it and How to Use It
A term used often in cycling is periodization. Surprisingly though many people do not have a concrete understanding of what it means. In this post we will attempt to eliminate any ambiguity surrounding the term and demonstrate how you can utilize periodization in your weekly training.
Periodization means just as it sounds, it is the structuring of your training season into periods or zones. Each period is designed to specifically benefit a certain part of your overall fitness, and usually later periods depend upon success in earlier periods in order to be of value. A general periodization of a season often looks something like this:
Number of Weeks 4-6 Preparation
In the first four to six weeks you are getting prepared for the battering your body is going to take over the next four to six months. This often consists of weight room training and possibly cross training with swimming or running.
Number of Weeks 8 -12 Base
The next eight to twelve weeks is called the base period and is spent increasing your endurance. By the end of the base period you will want your longest ride of the week to be at least the same duration as what you plan on doing your most important race in.
Number of Weeks 6-8 Build
Next is the build period. This is where you will want to begin increasing the intensity of your workouts in conjunction with decreasing the length. In addition you will want to spend quite a bit of time improving any weaknesses that might come up in a race situation.
Number of Weeks 1-2 Peak
The peak period is used to get rested for the upcoming races. Here you still want to incorporate high intensity workouts so that your body does not lose any fitness, but you want to greatly reduce the volume.
Number of Weeks 1-3 Race
After tapering you should be ready for up to three or four weeks of racing.
That is really all there is to periodization. There are a few different forms of periodization that are not linear like the one listed above, but very few athletes prefer to use them. The linear periodization described above is used by many of the worlds top runners, cyclists, and swimmers, and when used correctly and with a goal in mind it will greatly improve your season.