Periodisation : Another Big Term Broken Down For You

Periodisation is a term you might not have heard of before – but this very concept can launch some of us (myself included) into a long debate about weight training, programming and how to maximise your sessions. Believe it or not – if you are training to change your body shape its not a matter of just lifting weights and hoping for the best!

So what’s periodisation all about?

The general understanding of periodisation is largely built upon Hans Selye’s general adaptation syndrome (GAS) theory from roughly 1950. This theory points out the three phases the body undergoes when experiencing a new stimulus. These phases are: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.

  • Alarm: The initial shock of a stimulus; an example would be the excessive soreness you feel at the beginning of new programs.
  • Resistance: The adaptation to the stimulus; this is where we begin to get better at handling the workload and progress in a program.
  • Exhaustion: The decrease from overstimulation; an example of this would be overtraining, or overreaching.

In an ideal world we remain in the resistance stage because this is where the body performs optimally. Periodisation is the way in which you strategise to prolong the resistance stage. How we choose to go about this is dependent on our training history, activity, and goals.

If you are hoping to be an Olympic athlete – this is VERY IMPORTANT.

If you want to look a little leaner, feel a little stronger, move a little faster and last a little longer in workouts – we can afford to have a more relaxed approach.

HOWEVER it is still worth understanding that we cannot simply ATTACK training and expect to get great results from our good intentions! Too much is NEVER a good thing.

Put simply, in a weekly sense its about breaking down your entire training week to include all your activities/training sessions in a well planned manner that will bring about the best physiological improvements – whilst minimising injury risk.

You want to get the most of every session you do! If you are coming into sessions sore, flat and fatigued day after day..its likely you need to look at your schedule and make some adjustments.

When looking at your training week it should be clear that you are overloading your nervous system on certain days and allowing them to recover on others. Recovery is VITAL. This is where to get improvement or supercompensation from the body.

For example, if you do a POWERHOUSE Strength and Conditioning session and manage to hit a 3 rep max in that session – it is only logical your body is going to require adequate time to recover. Following up with a second session, or training again within the next 24 hours is probably going to negate any progress you have made.

Here is where most people get it twisted. ‘Recovery’ will look different for everyone. An Elite athlete that does well over 120km running a week might have a recovery session that is a 10km recovery run. For someone who is new to running – a 10km run is going to be VERY CHALLENGING.

The point? What you do does not have to reflect what someone else is doing in order for it to be valid.

For YEARS I had people who took it upon themselves to give me unsolicited advice about my own training schedule. I still do double sessions, training twice a day pretty much every day – and if you look at that in isolation you may think that is excessive.

Here’s the thing – excuse me while I toot my own horn, but I am exceptionally trained with an extensive strength and conditioning base behind me. So for me, double sessions are not unreasonable and more often that not, one of the activites will be submaximal.

Its also worth noting – if Im focusing on weight loss, I don’t do double sessions! In fact I only train 4 times a week and focus on weight training and low to moderate forms of cardio.

It’s a BIG mistake to look at what anyone else is doing and judge what they are doing without knowing their training history, periodisation or their actual condition levels.

EVERYONE comes into the gym for a different reason. Everyone has different goals. You don’t need to concern yourself with keeping up with anyone around you, at any time. Your energy and efforts are best spent focusing on yourself and finding a structure that will best serve you in the long run.

Asking what someone else is doing is irrelevant. Following someone elses training plan isnt useful. You need to take a good look at your history and your current goals and build your training plan around that.

If you are just training because it FEELS GOOD – then good for you!! But it is still worth ensuring that you aren’t burning the candle at both ends. Scheduled rest days are important so that you avoid injury and can train with consistency!

Bring clarity and strategy to your training week. Have hard, easy and moderate days in your program. Make sure to try to have one day off every week.

If you are lost, confused or want a second opinion on your training plan – feel free to send us a detailed email and we will give you feedback!  The email will need to outline your training history in the last 3 months, your current goals and your training plan.