A planned training programme in which the year is divided into periods or cycles often of different duration. Each period has a different purpose. A typical example consists of four periods: a preparation period, a precompetition period, a maintenance or competition period, and finally a transition or recovery period. During the first two periods, training gradually changes from non-specific, general conditioning activities of long duration and short intensity, to more specific, special training of high intensity and short duration. The programme is designed so that athletes peak during the maintenance period; this peak is timed to coincide with major competitions. Periodization also helps to prevent overtraining by varying the training stimulus. The main periods of training are called macrocycles and the phases of training within the macrocycles are called mesocycles. Thus, within the pre-competition period there might be a mesocycle for general conditioning, another for strength training, and a third for speed work. Daily and weekly training sessions are called microcycles and are described in terms of the type of exercise, its intensity and duration. The precise duration of the periods and the total length of the complete cycle depends on when the athlete wants to peak. Most training programmes adopt a single periodization per year; some adopt a double periodization in one year so that the athlete can peak twice; and others have a periodization lasting 2–4 years (for example, when preparing for the Olympic Games) or even longer. See also Matveyev's six phases.
Subjects: Sports and Exercise Medicine.