Sports periodization


Periodization is an organized approach to training that involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time. The roots of periodization come from Hans Selye’s model, known as the General adaptation syndrome (GAS), describing biological responses to stress. Selye's work has been used by the athletic community since the late 1950s (Fleck, 1999).

The GAS describes three basic stages of response to stress: (a) the Alarm stage, involving the initial shock of the stimulus on the system, (b) the Resistance stage, involving the adaptation to the stimulus by the system, and (c) the Exhaustion stage, in that repairs are inadequate, and a decrease in system function results. The foundation of periodic training is keeping ones body in the resistance stage without ever going into the exhaustion stage. By adhering to cyclic training the body is given adequate time to recover from significant stress before additional training is undertaken.

Selye (1957) labeled beneficial stresses as "eustress" and detrimental stresses as "distress". In athletics, when physical stress is at a healthy level (eustress), an athlete experiences muscular strength and growth, while excessive physical stress (distress) can lead to tissue damage, disease, and death. Periodization is most widely used in resistance program design to avoid over-training and to systematically alternate high loads of training with decreased loading phases to improve components of muscular fitness (e.g. strength, strength-speed, and strength-endurance).

Russian physiologist Leo Metveyev and Czech sport scientist Tudor Bompa expanded and further organized the periodization model. Bompa and Metveyev have been regarded as the fathers of modern periodization. Since the 1960s, other coaches and exercise physiologists have added to the original models, creating “modified” periodization models. However, despite the differing terminology amongst scientist and practitioners, the scientific basis for periodization remains a common ground.

Periodic training systems typically divide time up into three types of cycles: micro-cycle, , macro-cycle and mezzo-cycle. The micro-cycle is generally up to 7 days. The mezzo-cycle may be anywhere from 2 weeks to a few months and can further be classified into preparation, competition, peaking, and a macro-cycle refers to the overall training period, usually representing a year or two.

Theory of Planning

Training should be organized and planned in advance of a competition or performance.It should consider the athlete’s potential, his/her performance in tests or competition, and calendar of competition. It has to be simple, suggestive, and above all flexible as its content can be modified to meet the athletes rate of progress

The Meso-cycle

A meso-cycle refers to a weekly training program, which is an annual program that succeeds in a certain fashion according to the needs of peaking for the main objective (competition) of the year.

The Macro-cycle

A macro-cycle represents a phase of training with duration of between 2 – 6 weeks or micro-cycles. During the preparatory phase, a macro-cycle commonly consists of 4 – 6 micro-cycles, while during the competitive phase it will usually consist of 2 – 4 micro-cycles depending on the competition’s calendar.

The Sub Phase

A Sub Phase is a plan of medium length, 2-4 months, utilized in training under specific circumstances. The use of a mezzo-cycle is beneficial in activities of a seasonal nature

The Annual Plan

The annual plan is important in that it directs and guides athletic training over a year. It is based on the concept of periodization and the principles of training. The objective of training is to reach a high level of performance (peak performance) and an athlete has to develop skills, biomotor abilities and psychological traits in a methodical manner.

Preparatory Phase

This phase consists of the general preparation and specific preparation. Usually the general preparation is the longest of the two phases.

Competitive Phase

This phase may contain a few main competitions each containing a pre-competitive and a main competition. Within the main competition, an uploading phase and a special preparatory phase may be included.

Transition Phase

This phase is used to facilitate psychological rest, relaxation and biological regeneration as well as to maintain an acceptable level of general physical preparation. This phase lasts between 3 – 4 weeks (maybe longer) but should not exceed 5 weeks under normal conditions.

Training Objectives

Stating objectives for both coach and athlete is important to the planning process. In setting objectives the specific sport must be considered as well as the dominant training factor for that sport. Then the methodological priorities of training can be considered.There are 6 possible sequence and order for training.

Performance Objective

This objective is very specific and may include winning a specific event or obtaining a personal best in an event.

Physical Preparation

These usually involves strength training, speed training, endurance training, flexibility training and co-ordination.

Technical Preparation

If the sport involves a team event, then this area involves both offensive and defensive skills. If the sport involves an individual event, then the specific skill involved is considered.

Tactical Preparation

This area includes individual and team tactics.

Psychological Preparation

An example of this type of preparation might include developing the ability to play calmly and with confidence following a mistake.

Theoretical Preparation

An example of this type of preparation might include knowing all the rules, plays, penalties that may occur at any given moment during the event.

A Table

An Example of a Simple Periodization Chart

Preparatory Phase(Usually the longest Phase)

Competitive Phase (Can include more than one competition)

Transition Phase (The Shortest Phase)

General Preparation

Special Preparation


Unloading Phase

Special Preparatory Phase

Main Competition


* [ What does periodization mean and how does it work?]
* [ Periodization: Latest Studies and Practical Applications]

*cite book
last = Bompa
first = Tudor
title =
publisher = Kendall/Hunt
date = 1983
isbn = 0-8403-2934-2

ee also


*Sports medicine
*Sports nutrition
*Physical education

*Complex training
*Continuous training
*Cross training

*Physical exercise

*Interval training


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