Planning your training for optimal performance

At this time of year many sportsmen & women will be returning from an end of season break and embarking on the first stages of training to prepare themselves for next year.  The most effective way of conducting your training through the off season is obviously brought about through careful planning and preparation. It is very important therefore to think about exactly what you want to do next year and what you need to do to get there. All too often people approach their training in a slightly hap-hazard way, in that they think they want to do an event at some point in the future and therefore do a little bit of training here and there in a pretty unstructured, informal way which, don’t get me wrong, is fine if your just looking to enjoy taking part in an event but if you are looking for truly optimal performance a little planning and consideration will get you a lot further!

A simple look at Periodization:

Whilst periodization can be a daunting concept at times, it can in fact be a very useful framework in which you can form anything from a very simple outline of your training up to an infinitely complicated minute-by-minute description.  No matter how complicated you want to plan things out, the main considerations to make are in terms of your mesocycles (i.e. periods of typically 4-8weeks where you concentrate on one specific area of training). For example a sprinter will classically use a ‘long to short’ approach where you begin your training with very low intensity aerobic sessions for their first mesocyle, before moving progressive through harder aerobic sessions, lactic work and specific, high intensity speed work. Within each mesocyle it is up to you what sessions you want to do, ideally try to form 5 or 6 sessions which can repeat a few times each.  After each mesocycle phase it is important to quantify your progress through specific testing, e.g. a time trial, so that you can see how effective the work you’ve done is.  By approaching everything in a scientific way such as this you can easily monitor your improvements and see where you may need more work on. This approach will also help you to build a solid base to work from and break up the monotony of purely doing the same thing over and over again.

Basic Points to remember:

  • Always have a clear goal of what you want to achieve in mind
  • Plan out specific phases (mesocycles) of 4-8 weeks to focus on individual areas
  • Continually & progressively overload ( by altering frequency, intensity, time or type)
  • Test yourself
  • Enjoy Performing!

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About Roy Barber

‘I am aspiring athlete and fitness enthusiast, currently studying Sport and Exercise Science at Loughborough University, widely regarded as the best course of its type in Europe. I am currently a 3 time County Athletics gold medallist over the sprint disciplines at junior level and am working hard every single day to continually improve myself mentally, physically and athletically. With a great passion for all things fitness and sport, I hope over the coming years to forge a successful and fruitful career in sport, dealing with a variety of aspects such as strength and conditioning, nutrition and recovery. ‘ ‘I ended up at Loughborough studying what I am because I’ve known for a few years now if I was going to go to university, sports science was the degree for me, I’ve always loved sport, PE and learning about all the different areas of science in relation to the human body so it was a natural move for me. In terms of why Loughborough specifically, I always heard great things about the university, I had a relative who came here and loved it, and I was incredibly impressed with the campus when I came on an open day and fell in love with the place. Who inspires me to compete is a more difficult question, I’d have to start by saying my coach who has done a fantastic job in turning me into a 'proper athlete'. I am also inspired by a range of people in my life, from world class athletes to friends and family. Roy Barber is 20 years old and comes from a small Leicestershire town called Market Harborough
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