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  • Lee Ransom


Do you adopt a periodized fitness training program?

Periodization can be defined as a training plan designed to enhance biomotor potential to achieve a desired goal whilst managing fatigue and stagnation.

Biomotors are what make up our physical function and in combination can form the basis of training plans designed to achieving health and fitness goals. Depending on the goal and individual needs, some biomotor abilities may have more training significance than others. These include:

· Strength

· Endurance

· Speed

· Coordination

· Flexibility

Periodization can be broken down into a cyclic structure consisting of 3 phases:

1. Macrocycles

2. Mesocycles

3. Microcycles

A macrocycle refers to the yearly training plan, a mesocycle to a monthly plan and a microcycle refers to a weekly plan although the length can of each cycle can fluctuate.

Unless someone is an Olympic athlete where training macrocycles might run over 4 years, most amateur/recreational or regular gym users can design their training plan over 1 year (macrocycle) at a time or less (Mesocycles) working towards their goals

Periodization can be divided into 2 major phases:

1. The Preparatory phase

2. The Competition phase

The Preparatory phase includes general physical training (GPT) and sport specific physical training (SSPT). Most regular gym users will be in GPT and some will transition into SSPT.

No matter your goal:

· Weight loss

· Muscle building (hypertrophy)

· Improve strength

· Cardiovascular fitness

· Training for sport/recreation

A periodized plan based on your own individual biomotor abilities, individual needs that fits your lifestyle is essential.

Why is Periodization important?

The implementation of a periodized plan allows an individual to work towards their goals in an appropriate time frame whilst targeting a specific biomotor ability or combination of.

It is important to consider the recovery-adaptation relationship. Because training adaptations take place during recovery periods, it is important to have unloading or taper weeks to reduce accumulated fatigue. Excessive fatigue can stress the neuroendocrine system which in turn will have a detrimental effect on training adaptations. A taper or unload period involving a reduction in volume has been shown to have a number of performance enhancing benefits through the reduction of accumulated fatigue. It also allows an individual to ensure they are maximizing their training adaptations by avoiding stagnation and enhancing recovery.

For example, if someone has a goal to increase muscle mass (hypertrophy) over the next 6 months, their training plan could be broken down into monthly mesocycles with weekly microcycles as shown in Table 1.

The same principles could be applied to cardiovascular conditioning progressing from aerobic base conditioning with long steady state aerobic exercise, to aerobic intervals into anaerobic training depending on your goals and individual requirements.

The Mesocycles could also be split into phases for an individual to progress through different stages of resistance training incorporating:

1. Strength Endurance Phase

2. Strength

3. Power

There are a lot of advanced periodization principles that could be implemented. However, this is dependent on factors such as the training age of the individual, lifestyle, goals, are they training for health and fitness, one-off competition or need to maintain performance throughout a season? Variables such as changes in weekly volume or intensity within the microcycle could be implemented as part of a larger macrocycle plan.

To summarize, a periodized plan is essential in helping an individual reach their optimal health and fitness goals. It prevents stagnation, can reduce accumulated fatigue and allow training adaptations to occur.

What are your training goals over the next year (macrocycle)?

Have you considered what training you are doing on a monthly (mesocycle) and weekly (microcycle) basis that will support your longer-term goals?

Even if you have no specific goal, are you ensuring you are not stagnating?

Personal Training is available at Whittfit if you would like 1-1 support in devising a periodized training program.


Turner, A. (2011) The Science and Practice of Periodization: A Brief Review. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 33(1), 34-46.

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