What is Periodisation

This blog is designed to breifly explain what Periodisation is, how it is set out and how it is essential for athletic development.


Periodisation can be defined as the process in which we organise the training and training cyles of an individual to peak for a certain event/date. With Periodisation we as coaches plan training via many models of programming to constantly allow for athletic development through ever adapting stimulus.


Why is this important? Well, the body constantly needs new stimulus to continue to adapt. If a training programme is continuously repeated, the body will no longer have the need to develop to over come the challenges/stimulus that the programme offers. So, to ensure long term athlethic development we must adapt the programme so the body has new stimulus/challenges to over come...make sense? (Email me if not, I can explain further).


Periodisation can be split up into 3 categeories:


Macro - Cycle: Typically this is a year long plan, but it can be a lot longer depending on the individual (Olympic Games athletes generally have a 4 year macro plan). The Macro-Periodisation is the overall plan of what the training schedule will include. Any events/competitions will be accounted for, and the training phases leading up to these will be planned.

An example of a Macro Periodisation plan


Meso - Cycle: Meso cycles are typically monthly (but can be longer depending on the individual). The meso cycle includes each weeks programming


An example of a few days of programme (Micro Cyle)

Micro - Cycle: The micro cycle is the daily or weekly programming. This will include each exercise that you are programmed for in more detail.


You can imagine if you like that the Macro-cycle is the overal view, but as you zoom in more detail appears as the meso-cycle, then the micro-cycle.


When organising an athletes yearly training, we must first consider what events they want to do, and how important those events are to the individual. This is called the Peaking Index (PI). The importance of events will be subjective depending on the athlete. For example, you might think that the British Weightlifting Championships would be more important than the Regional Championships (which are used for qualification for the British). Most of the time you would be right, but if you had an athlete who could just make the British if they had a really good day at the qualifying stages it would probably be better to put the Regional Champs as a higher priority. This is because they need to make sure they qualify, there is not point prioritising the British if there is a big chance they won't qualify for it.


So what does each cycle include? Well the macro-periodisation includes everything and is just an overal plan for the year (or longer). The meso cycles and micro cycles is where most of the "nitty gritty" happens. What happens in each cycle is completely dependent on the individual, their goals, time frame, what their performance is like now and what they need to work on. No programme should ever be the same (unless you happen to have two individuals with exactly the same schedule, goals, current performance, gender, training age etc...it is not likely).


Generally speaking, individuals will go through various phases of training. The phases of training are:


General Physical Preparation (GPP) - This phase is designed to improve joint integrity, muscular endurance and generally help the body prepare for the phases of training ahead which are more challenging for the body. Think of GPP as building the foundations.


Hypertrophy Phase - This phases is designed to build lean tissue. If athletes need to increase muscular size then they will need to go through a phases that is designed to do this. It is not always nessecary, many athletes will not need to build any more muscle mass. This can be the case with athletes who compete within a weight categorised sport like Weightlifting and combat sports.


Strength Phase - In this phase the aim of the game is to increase your force output.


A graph showing the correlation between Force output and Velocity

Strength Speed - This phase is designed to improve Power output


Speed Strength - This phase is also designed to improve power output and speed of muscular contraction


Speed - This phase is also designed to improve power output and speed of muscular contraction



In a basic example, an athlete will work through the various phases and develop all aspects of their performance from muscular size, through strength then to power. The amount of time spent in each phase will depend upon the needs of the athlete. For example some athletes will need to develop more strength as their force output is too low, whilst others may have enough force output but their rate of force development is too low, meaning they need to do work in the Strength Speed and Speed Strength phases to develop it.

The weights, rep/set schemes, training protocols and exercises included within each of the phases of training deserves seperate blogs which I shall do in the future. This blog was just to breifly explain what Periodisation is and explain why it is so important for long term athletic development.


If you have any questions on this topic (or anything else) please let me know!


Stay Strong,



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