The Role of Periodisation in Fitness and Sport How can it help the regular attendee in a fitness class or regular gym goer?

The concept of ‘periodisation’ has been used by fitness enthusiasts and sportsmen for more than a decade now. At its very basic, periodisation is a training style. An athlete goes through a cycle of pre-structured training phases with the aim of hitting the peak when the time comes.

G. Whyte, 2006 proposed the use of periodisation in endurance, sprint, power, strength training. It is also key for those involved in aerobics and endurance training. The aim is to ensure that, by the time you are going out for a sports competition, you are at your peak performance.

What Are The Benefits Of Periodisation?

For individuals involved in any kind of fitness program and sports training, adapting periodisation is key. The following are some reasons for that:

Providing structure

Periodisation is a sure way of having a pre-structured plan. That way you can be sure that your ‘wish’ for fitness can become reality. It will no longer be a mere desire to lose weight but something you are doing in reality. Periodisation can help you slot your workout sessions into the calendar. By thinking like an athlete, there is no reason why you should be unable to plan ahead. If you can, enlist your family and friends to help you.


There is no doubt that you need mental strength to do intense workouts. Periodisation allows you to structure your training plan complete with off-days or recovery weeks. Nothing could motivate you better than that. Intense interludes of training become easier to handle because you have a goal to achieve for a fixed period of time.

During the off-day, you can schedule a massage, reduce the volume and intensity of the exercise regime or try out a dancing class. That will give you the much-needed physical and mental break. Just how can you skip a scheduled workout thereafter?

Preventing a fitness plateau

If you are looking for a way to avoid a fitness plateau, periodisation is what you need. Like any other activity, doing the same exercise over and over again can be very boring. It also results in over-training which can only drive you into the dreaded fitness plateau. After all, you are likely to feel less motivated when you are bored and have no results to show for your hard work. Periodisation allows you to regularly include different exercises in your workouts.

Avoiding injury and prioritizing recovery

Most athletes who engage in overtraining tend to suffer from overuse injuries. According to G. Whyte, 2006, you are also at the risk over-training when you do not set aside adequate time for recovery. That can only result in an overload. Your body and brain are wired to crave regular breaks from monotonous workouts. That’s why you must take an off-season so as to recover. That could be as long as a week or month.

How does periodization work out?

Although it can be very complicated, periodisation is structured to go through four basic cycles. These are discussed below:

• Recovery. This involves a period of rest, sleep, massage, and other methods of active recovery. You can try out walking and stretching exercises.

• Endurance. Here, the athlete is still active but not fully-engaged in their sport of choice. The intensity of the workouts can be wired towards activities such as yoga and weight training.

• Intensity. This is the stage where exercises geared towards a given sport are given priority. Here it is more about the volume of the workouts and not necessarily the intensity. The aim is to increase the specificity of the exercise regime.

• Competition. Athletes who are looking to participate in specific competitions must increase the intensity of the workouts. After all, they are preparing for a competition and must use the workouts for adaptation to the expected conditions.

The Cycles of Periodisation

As proposed by W. Kraemer, 2004, periodisation is founded on three main cycles, namely macro-cycle, meso-cycle, and micro-cycle.


This is the longest cycle. The macrocycle is made up of all the four periodisation stages. It includes endurance, competition, intensity, and recovery stages. It considers the 365 days of the year so that you can have a long-term plan for your training regimen.


When you plan for a specific training block with the aim of accomplishing specified goals, you are definitely engaged in a mesocycle. Goals such as enhancing muscular endurance on a bicycle could be considered. You might also want to hike your functional threshold power.


This is the shortest of the training cycles. It could last for as little as one week and the goal is to achieve focused training. As an athlete, you might want to carry out some very hard workouts for a couple of days followed by a similar recovery period. Micro-cycle is usually geared towards intensity training.

Periodisation is about creating a clearly spelled-out plan so that you can always be at the peak when it matters most. Try it