Periodization gained its application and popularity from a physiologic theory called the “general adaptation syndrome” or GAS. GAS refers to the body’s ability to adapt to a variety of physiologic stresses associated with exercise programs such as strength and aerobic training that occur in one of three phases.
Phase 1 – Shock or alarm phase
- Occurs in initial phases of exercise programme. Generally 3-4 weeks depending on fitness level of participant.
- Primarily a neurological adaptation of the stress placed on the body.
Phase 2 – Super compensation stage
- The body progressively adapts through various physiological adjustments (i.e. biochemical, skeletal, muscular, connective tissue, cardiorespiratory) to exercise stress.
- Adaptation continues until participant reaches their optimal performance level.
Phase 3 – Maladaptation stage
- Overtraining occurs which is primarily associated with physiological and psychological fatigue
- Performance deterioration occurs.
By manipulating GAS, a systematic plan of periodization can be created to enhance performance and prevent overtraining. The main goal is to develop optimal physical performance required by an athlete/participant in his/her given sport/activity without overtraining. The initial stage of periodization usually consists of a macrocycle (overall training period) which is broken down into numerous progressive mesocycles and into further smaller microcycles.
Classic periodization programme for an athlete
1. Transition phase – active rest with little or no formal training (detraining phase). Occurs during off-season. The length depends on the type of sport and individual athlete.
2. Preparatory phase – Progressive phases of endurance/conditioning, hypertrophy, strength and power. Occurs during pre-season.
3. Maintenance phase – perform minimal workload to maintain performance level developed during the previous phase. Occurs during in-season.
It is up to the practitioner and athlete to design and adapt the periodization cycle to suit their training needs. Training days could range from low, moderate and high intensity to avoid overtraining and injuries. A transition phase could be inserted after each phase of the periodization cycle to promote recovery and limit overtraining. At least 8-10 hours of sleep is advisable for promote recovery.
Antonio, J., Kalman, D., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Willoughby, D. S., & Haff, G. G. (Eds.). (2008). Aspects of Overtraining. In A. Mike Greenwood (Eds.), Essentials of sports nutrition and supplements (pp. 127-128). Chapter Humana Press.
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