Archive for July 6, 2009

Championship Physiology/Periodization

Posted in Championship Physiology on July 6, 2009 by bethleasure

Cycles & Sabbaths

14“100% of the time you get what you train for.” Clay Worthington, Track Sprint Coach


What goes where is up to a scientific but artful programmer

What goes where is up to a scientific but artful programmer

Specificity is a foundational principle of exercise physiology. Champions base training on this simple truth and demarcate it in carefully planned periods. The very universe works and rests and its periods are segments known as days, seasons, and ages. This illustrates the stress-rest principle or progressive overload that’s foundational in exercise physiology.

What this looks like in a cycling time-line can be mapped in periods, each with a purpose and a rhythm. Periodization for championship cycling divides training time into segments that work the differing energy systems required for road race success in ways that allow a peak period for championship events.

Not every pro cyclist has this luxury: some are required to maintain consistency throughout a competitive season. Yet even these must use periodization to build recovery into a busy race calendar. More and more, even domestiques must periodize training to be at top form useful to a GC contender or Classics specialist during the targeted event. Team periodization is a consideration of the Directeur Sportif’s selections for roster and races. 

There are differing schools of thought about which fitness to work when: for instance, working VO2max as a base or as a topper for a TT goal. Sometimes this difference is used by the same coach applied among athletes whose profiles indicate emphasizing a particular energy system or whose unique adaptation mandate an original mix of preparation.

The key is monitoring the training load and its effects. Champion physiology submits itself to frequent testing. Race fitness is the ultimate test, and timing its zenith is the universal quest of champions.


Prayer for Periodization
“Sow your fields, prune your vineyards, and take in your harvests for six years. But the seventh year the land will take a Sabbath of complete and total rest…The land will yield its fruit; you will have all you can eat and will live safe and secure. Do I hear you ask, ‘What are we going to eat in the seventh year if we don’t plant or harvest?’ I assure you, I will send such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough.” 15Leviticus 25

We passionately embrace periods of over-reaching. We confess we silence the raspy inner voice that whispers, “Enough!” at times. We pray for knowledgeable periodization.            

Ponder Do I have a well-planned program for achievement? Affirm I outline segments for long-term gains while tweaking for daily realities. Watch a personal flow-chart of goals and events in the context of demands and results.


14“Periodization: Sprint Track Cycling,” presented by Clay Worthington, 2006 USA Coaching Summit, Colorado Springs, CO

15The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson