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Periodization: What is it, and why does it matter?

By Reuben Pearlman

 

Periodization is defined as the “long-term cyclic structuring of training and practice to maximize performance to coincide with important competitions.” Simply, it is the program design strategy that governs planned, systematic variations in training specificity, intensity, and volume.

 

There are several different ways to approach training periodization, two of the most prominent include:

 

  1. Traditional: Attempts to develop many abilities simultaneously (which for a beginning athlete can be a great approach, as the central nervous system can handle the amount of training).
  2. Block method: “Its general idea presupposes the use and sequencing of specialized mesocycle-blocks, where highly concentrated training workloads are focused on a minimal number of motor and technical abilities.”

 

A “periodized” training plan usually involves a macro cycle (1 year), meso cycles (1-3 months with specific goals), micro cycles (1-4 Weeks) and your individual workout (hours and minutes).

 

So why does this matter for CrossFitters? Remember, CrossFit is defined as constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity. Many people unfortunately associate “constantly varied” with “random.”  Enter Greg Everett, who writes about how periodization “had become a bad word in CrossFit land.” Two statements from his article drive the point home:

 

  • “If you have no plan with regard to your training, you’re an idiot.”
  • “Being prepared for any random task is not the same thing as preparing randomly for any task.”

 

As Everett states, “being prepared for anything means balancing and improving equally, on average over time, the range of athletic traits.” These traits include strength, power, speed, endurance, stamina, flexibility, balance, coordination, agility and accuracy.

 

There are numerous proven benefits to utilizing a form of periodization for your planned progression:

 

  • Management of fatigue, reducing risk of over-training by managing factors such as load, intensity, and recovery
  • The cyclic structure maximizes both general preparation and specific preparation for sport.
  • Ability to optimize performance over a specific period of time
  • Accounting for the individual, including time constraints, training age and status, and environmental factors.

 

These periodization principals are at the core of our training program at CrossFit 718. As stated in previous articles, athlete safety and progress are at the top of our priorities. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to prescribed RPE and rest periods, not just reps and rounds. These variables are all part of a bigger, periodized plan.

 

Not sure if your WODs are periodized? Chat with Coach Iz to learn more. #GymDOG

 

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