What is Periodization?

Cyclist on mountain road

The term "periodization" is often invoked in the cycling lexicon. But a surprising number of cyclists don’t have a concrete understanding of what this term means.

Periodization can be either linear or non-linear. Linear periodization is the more popular the technique and is preferred by many of the world’s top runners, cyclists, and swimmers. Periodization is simply the structuring of a training season into periods or zones focusing on specific skills. Each period is designed to specifically benefit a certain aspect of overall fitness. Later periods usually depend upon success in earlier periods in order to be of value.

Stages of Linear Periodization

1. Preparation period: In the first four to six weeks you’re getting prepared for the battering your body is going to take over the next four to six months. This often consists of weight room training and possibly cross training with swimming or running.

2. Base period: The next eight to 12 weeks is called the base period, and is spent increasing endurance.

By the end of the base period you’ll want your longest ride of the week to match the duration of your most important upcoming race.

3. Build Period: During this stage, you’ll begin increasing the intensity of your workouts in conjunction with decreasing their length. In addition, you’ll spend quite a bit of time improving any weaknesses that might hinder you in a race situation.

4. Peak Period: This period is used to rest for upcoming races. Here you still want to incorporate high-intensity workouts so that your body doesn’t lose any fitness, but their number should be greatly reduced. After tapering off you should be ready for up to three or four weeks of racing.

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