Periodization is planning training volume and intensity levels for a season so athletes can achieve desired results at specific times by breaking the season into long, medium, and short training cycles.
Two models of periodization exist; Traditional and Block. The traditional model has been dominant for about 5 decades (Issurin, 2010). The block model, pioneered by Vladimir B. Issurin, has been developed recently to overcome the limitations of the traditional model (Issurin, 2010). The block periodization model is now becoming more prevalent amongst national coaches and federations within Canada.
Simply the traditional model entails simultaneously developing several athletic systems and abilities within a single training cycle. Issurin states that the main limitations of the traditional model are “(i) conflicting physiological responses produced by ‘mixed’ training directed at many athletic abilities; (ii) excessive fatigue elicited by prolonged periods of multi-targeted training; (iii) insufficient training stimulation induced by workloads of medium and low concentration typical of mixed training; and (iv) the inability to provide mulit-peak performances over the season” (Issurin, 2010). The weakness of the traditional model is that several different athletic systems and abilities cannot be trained and be expected to adapt at the same time.
The block model proposes the sequencing of specialized training cycles (blocks), which contain highly concentrated workloads directed to a minimal number of targeted athletic systems and abilities (Issurin, 2010). General (accumulation), Specific (transmutation), and Competitive (realization) blocks with varying time frames each target a few selected athletic systems and abilities. A crux of the block model relies on residual training effects, which are the retention of training gains after the cessation of training after a certain time period.
A 10-week training block leading up to a primary competition might look something like this. Secondary competitions within the block can be used to test and/or tune-up different technical, tactical, mental, and nutritional elements or strategies prior to the primary competition.
To see how block periodization can be applied to season planning go to the Season Planning page.
Vladimir B. Issurin – New Horizons for the Methodology and Physiology of Training Periodization, 2010.