Now that you have selected your 2009 "A", "B" and "C" events, the fun really begins, because we now need to spend a little bit of time setting up your training plan overview that will be used to direct your training actions toward the achievement of your goals.

We use a technique known as Periodization, which is a planned, long term variation of training volume and intensity, specifically designed to:

  • Improve performance
  • Reduce the risk of injury
  • Limit the chances of Over-Training occurring.
The key words to take not of are: Volume and Intensity, because by manipulating these 2 components in a logical and scientifically sound manner, a noticeable improvement will follow.

The "Father of Periodization" was a Russian scientist by the name of Matveyev, who developed a model that defined the optimal relationship between training Volume and training Intensity.

His most well know models are:

1: Volume-Intensity relationship - Novice athlete (Traditional - Linear)

2: Volume-Intensity relationship - Advanced athlete (Undulating - Non-Linear)
Both of these have many differences, but one important commonality is that each shows an progressive increase in Intensity and a decrease in Volume, over time.

Another way of phrasing this is that at the start of a new training year and a new training program, the focus of the training should be general in nature (Base conditioning), and as you move toward the racing season, the focus changes to training the specifics required by the sport (increasing sprinting speed).

So armed with a basic, and hopefully better, understanding of Periodization let's have a look at what a training year overview could look like. Many of the terms that I am going to use are interchangeable with other authors terms, and each author has his / her own take on certain aspects of Periodization.

I like the Tudor Bompa / Joe Friel take on the subject:

Macrocycle: 12 month program (or 4 year program for Olympians).
Mesocycle: A block of time within the year (Macrocycle), in which training a certain parameter takes place (Base conditioning Phase). Can last from 4 - 16 weeks.
Microcycle: 1 week of the training program.

Here is how the phases of a 12 month program might look:

MESOCYCLE A: Preparation:
Mesocycle 1: General preparation phase
  • 8 weeks
  • November + December (for the Northern Hemisphere)
  • Low Intensity training with a High Volume
  • Non-Specific focus
  • Divided into:
  • 2 weeks: Preparation
  • 6 weeks: Base Conditioning
Mesocycle 2: Specific preparation phase
  • Building phase
  • 32 weeks
  • January - August
  • Increasing Intensity and Decreasing Volume
  • Starting to develop cycling specific skills and fitness components.
  • Might be divided into:
  • Power development
  • Speed development
  • Hill climbing and sprinting skill development
MESOCYCLE B: Competition:
Mesocycle 3:
  • 2 weeks out from your "A" race.
  • June/July/August - depends on when your race is.
  • Peaking for the race season or specific event.
  • Intensity should be at its highest, with the Volume being reduced, but at a level sufficient enough to keep the engine strong.
  • Specific skills are the focal point here.
Mesocycle 4: Competition:
  • The duration of this is dependent on your schedule.
  • If you have a 4 month season, you might have to develop a "mini' periodized progression within the main program to facilitate the length of your competitive season.
  • Race season is all about maintaining the fitness you have developed through the year, remaining injury free and honing your racing skills and fitness.
  • Racing will result in you becoming "racing fit".
MESOCYCLE C: Transition phase:
  • 4 - 6 weeks
  • Post racing season.
  • A time for regeneration and restoration.
  • Cut both the Volume and Intensity down noticeably.
  • Focus on maintaining a good body weight, doing activities other than cycling (perhaps some mountain biking or Hiking).
  • If you have injuries or other issues, this is the time to deal with them, before moving back into the Preparation Mesocycle.
The next step is to take your race schedule, put it into a calendar, and then work backwards to today.

This will help you break down how much time you have to work with within each training phase, and ensure you are able to get the level of conditioning you want to achieve your goals.

Set this up, and next week we will have a look at some of the specifics of developing the Microcycles of the program.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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