By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM
If you find yourself doing the same workouts week after week, it's time to give some thought to your fitness program. Adapted from weightlifting, Periodization is a way of organizing your training goals to promote identifiable gains within a specific period of time. As a competitive athlete, your goal may be to peak for a certain race or event. As a recreational fitness enthusiast, you can focus on improvements in your performance, such as faster times or increased intensity; or personal improvements, such as weight loss or body measurements.
To start putting Periodization into practice, think about looking at your training plan beyond a week at a time (referred to as a microcycle). The next step is to think about your annual plan (called a macrocycle) and consider where you would like to be at certain times in the next year. You might consider performance events, such as a 5K or triathalon, or personal goals such as losing a certain amount of weight by the end of the year. You should also look at external events that might affect your training, such as vacations, holidays, or job related deadlines. A good program can work with those factors to keep you on track. Once you've got a handle on the big picture, it's time to start looking at your month to month goals (called mesocycles). Typically these intervals of training range from 2-6 weeks, with a month being the most common. The shorter period of time is useful for intense goals, such as peaking for a key race or two, or possibly intense dieting that would not be maintained long term. If you know you have a break coming up (such as from vacation or travel), you might find it useful to complete a mesocycle of 6 weeks in order to earn the break you know is coming up.
Mesocycles address short term performance goals, such as improving running form through the use of strides and drills, increasing your base mileage or endurance, and, finally, to improve performance through the use of interval and power training. Choosing to focus on one aspect of your training during each mesocycle organizes your training plan, helps you avoid exhaustion and overtraining, and allows you to see small measurable gains each month that will help to keep you motivated toward your annual goals. Very intense mesocycles or key competitions should be followed by transition periods of light or no training before beginning the process of preparation and peaking again. Planned transition periods allow the body and mind to recover and may be as short as a week or two for competitive athletes or up to three months for recreational enthusiasts in their off-season.
Your Horizon Fitness Equipment comes equipped with many features that complement a periodized approach to training. Personalized settings can be used to keep track of your progress. The interval setting on your machine is a great way to add intensity to your workouts during peak performance mesocycles. Mileage, distance, and speed indicators also provide you with measurable results as you focus on building your base and improving over time. For an overview of Periodization, check out this link. I also found this one useful for triathletes and recreational competitors.
We'd love to hear from you. Have you used your fitness equipment to reach both short and long term training goals? What are your personal fitness goals in the coming year? And don’t forget, you can also find us on Facebook and drop us a line with any questions or comments.