Could you benefit from Reverse Periodization?

Team Sky use it – should you use it?

The reverse periodization structure starts with anaerobic (level 4 & 5) work causing intra muscular and energy system adaptations, then move onto moderate (level 3) sessions starting to increase the length to fatigue at the higher speed, then finally adding endurance (level 1 & 2) and sprint (level 6) sessions to simulate race situations and improve energy transportation. By developing speed and power first, and then learning to maintain it for longer you will benefit from a dramatic improvement in your speed endurance over the course of a training cycle and your performance will be closer to competitive phase for a longer period of the season.

Standard periodization structure dictates that you spend the early phases building an endurance base doing long slow (level 1) training sessions, then moving onto pre season performing more moderate (level 2 & 3) efforts with some sprints (level 6), during the early competitive phase anaerobic (level 4 & 5) work is completed before tapering off pre competition. The interesting part of this periodization is it results in a large discrepancy in fitness levels during base training when compared to the competitive phase. You basically spend alot of the year not being able to perform at your best.

What’s the main difference between you and people competing at a higher level? Endurance? No, it’s speed, simply put you do not ride as fast! For example during your local race you average 18 km/hr for 40 km and you watch  the winners and youngsters come in at 25km/hr its not that you don’t have the endurance, it’s that you don’t have there power to go as fast!

If so, do you believe spending most of the year performing long slow endurance base training is going to increase your power? No, and this idea has been around for a while I first read it from Canadian sprint coach Charlie Francis he preferred to set a target time for an event; say 9.8 seconds for 100m and then measure how far the sprinter could run in 9.8 secs rather than see how fast they could run 100m. He would just work on increasing the distance covered in 9.8 secs until 100m was achieved. What’s the benefit? Just to name a few; you train the appropriate muscle fibres for running at higher speed, cause adaptations to energy system used and optimise nervous system adaptations.

Seems logical doesn’t it? Train at the intensity needed so your body gets use to riding at that speed then build in the volume so your body can do it for longer. The other reason this philosophy appeals to me is most cyclists have a limited amount of time they can devote to training and during winter/spring this is limited further by daylight hours, it might not only be optimal to implement reverse periodization but it is also going to be easier for most of you to train for less duration during the early training phases and gradually increase the volume as the weather and daylight hours improve.

The reverse periodization structure starts with anaerobic (level 4 & 5) work causing intra muscular and energy system adaptations, then move onto moderate (level 3) sessions starting to increase the length to fatigue at the higher speed, then finally adding endurance (level 1 & 2) and sprint (level 6) sessions to simulate race situations and improve energy transportation. By developing speed and power first, and then learning to maintain it for longer you will benefit from a dramatic improvement in your speed endurance over the course of a training cycle and your performance will be closer to competitive phase for a longer period of the season.

If you have a been training on and off for the last year then you have the base, spending the first 3 months of this year doing base level training isn’t really going to improve your fitness is it? Make use of reverse periodization through 2016 and you’ll see how employing some of Sky’s marginal gains mantra might actually give you maximal gains!

http://iceskatingresources.org/endurancetrainingplan.pdf

periodization mtb