Writing Your Program - Periodisation part 1
Athletic sustainability, improvement and performance involve a lot of effort, no question. One of the easiest to implement, yet most overlooked element is periodisation, the art of planning what work/rest to do and when to do it. Come on, you can START right now - just keep reading. We use excel, but old school paper works just fine.
The first thing you need to know is that periodisation is often used to plan long term and short term... sounds a bit like the substance behind goals right? You set a goal, great. Do you know how that goal is going to play out, at least theoretically? That’s where good planning comes in. Remember, planning is a framework so that you are more able to remain in the present where all the good stuff really happens! Basically, long term is often called "Macrocycles" and can theoretically go for years (many Olympic athletes use 4 year plans), shorter blocks of time are "mesocycles" and usually go for weeks and in that time; the single week is called the "microcycle". If you set a 3-month goal - the 3 months is the macro, you could have 3 mesocylces within it and they each include the 4 microcycles. Cool?
The second thing is that you can manipulate the structure AND the content to best achieve your goals. We will split structure and content over two posts to ensure that some good information isn't lost at the bottom of the post. The next programming post will go through content.
Structure wise it really depends on your goals/targets. If you have a target, like a race or competition or goal deadline, work back from it for your...
MACROCYCLE! For example, we would TAPER for a period of time before racing, so it would be counter intuitive to have a major strength block in that week leading up to it and the biggest volume of work earlier on! On the other hand, if you're trying to lose weight for a wedding - you probably need the lighter weeks built in a little more thoughtfully earlier, and as you build momentum and fitness, ramp it right up until the deadline!
MESOCYCLES: OK, so we've got the MACRO done... lets fill in some blanks. You'll need some weeks where there is quite a heavy workload, and some where the workloads are a little lighter (remember, we will do this again for your week in a bit). Here are some suggestions:
* Unless you're a hardened campaigner - keep your "work" blocks to 2-3 weeks. Any more and you'll over reach your capacity to be healthy on one hand and importantly, you'll probably stop adapting anyway so you're wasting your time. To be super clear - if you've been doing the same thing for 6 weeks straight, without any manipulation to the intensity, volume or frequency of work:rest you're in a very low adaptation state, if any.* Rest is as important as Work. Usually when you write this you're mega motivated... but this is about sustainability so make sure that you're realistic about how much recovery you need, here's just some examples of general physiological parameters:
-----> Maximum Strength needs about 3-7 DAYS!!
-----> Light Aerobic work needs 6-18 hrs
* Make sure your work weeks and rest weeks marry well with your MACRO cycle as mentioned in the structure paragraph.
MICROCYCLES: What you do within the week - similar flow and philosophy to the mesocycles but on a smaller level. If you have a heavy gym on Monday night, don't expect to have great speed on Tuesday morning. If you love socialising on a Saturday night - don't put your key session of the week on Sunday morning. This works both ways though. If you're like us and often do more than 1-2 sessions in the day, make sure they complement each other for a really incredible result - for example a heavy session in the morning and an invigorating yoga flow in the evening complements each other well.
Stay tuned for "content" in our next post: we'll talk about Block periodisation vs Conventional periodisation, what different physiologies go together, and which ones contradict each other and also some example plans that we use.