Periodization…What Time Is It?

8 12 2009

Hammer Time. Actually, it’s not time to hammer just yet. My first TT and the Frozen Flatlands race early in 2009 screamed the need for organized training quite clearly. This experience wasn’t the type of painfest I desired. Top racing effort is one thing, but blowing-up because of training mistakes is another. Enter periodization.

Edmund R. Burke, PhD defines periodization as “the long term planning and scheduling of training”. Periodization is conventionally divided into three main periods: transition, preparation, and competition. These might also be referred to as mesocycles by some. Some of these periods could be divided into phases based on your needs, but all modifications should lead to your competitive goal.

I keep a manual training log (Joe Friel’s version) and I also track my training/racing mileage with a spreadsheet. I’ll cover the workings of this tool in a future post, but for now, it’s a simple graph of volume vs. time with various totals at the bottom:

Mileage Tracking Sample

I’ll discuss each period or phase as it relates to my training program. As they say, hind-site is always 20/20 and last season I did not incorporate base miles as a foundation nor did I train to specific intensity milestones. The more I tried to step on the gas, the more evident it was that my engine couldn’t provide.

Burned-out, dropped, and going nowhere fast

Transition– This period began immediately after my last race in September.  It was roughly four weeks long and its purpose is to prepare for strength training. The general physical exercises involve only body weight with minimum training intensity. I constructed the following weekly program for core and legs:

(1 to 3 sets with 15 to 20 repetitions each)

  • Monday
    • trunk curls, leg extensions, and back extensions
  • Wednesday
    • leg press, and hanging leg raise
  • Friday
    • trunk curl, lunges, single-leg calf raises, and back extensions

I would also ensure that any miles that I turned on the bike were quantified in intensity as power zone 2, that is, endurance miles.  If I felt the need for a recovery ride, that intensity was in power zone 1. I accrued 361 base miles in this period (all power zone 2).

Preparation/foundation phase– This phase started in October and ended in November. This phase felt like I was making some progress as I felt improvement in the effort level. Here I focused on acquiring higher RPM as the norm and base miles for my foundation. Endurance miles (power zone 2) began at 90 RPM as a minimum. Later in the November, I was turning a minimum of 100 RPM.  This pace felt natural and 90 felt slow when I rode the trainer.

At the end of the phase, I completed a 30-minute maximum sustained effort test. Just to see if my aerobic capacity had changed. An average of 108 RPM produced an average of 266 watts. I thought this wasn’t bad for not having worked on strength-building yet. I limited stationary rides to no longer than two hours per session. I accrued 1,865 base miles during this phase (all power zone 2).

Training in Phil's "pain cave"

Stationary training during the off-season

Preparation/basic strength phase– My current phase/during December only. Here, I’ve incorporated resistance training into my endurance miles (foundation) effort.  The following program was tailored for me by my advisor at WSU-Spokane:

  • Monday
    • back squats 5 x 5 (2-5 minute rest between sets)
    • dumbbell lunges 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • leg extensions 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets and superset with leg curls)
    • leg curls 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets and superset with leg extensions)
    • bench press 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets and superset with pull-ups)
    • pull-ups 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets and superset with bench press)
    • core exercises (do one after the other with 90 seconds rest between sets)
      • leg raises 3 x 20
      • bicycle crunches 3 x 30
      • lying alternating back extensions 3 x 15 each
  • Tuesday
    • endurance or recovery miles as needed
  • Wednesday
    • dead lift 4 x 8 (2-5 minute rest between sets)
    • step-ups 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • leg press 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • cable abductor and adductor pulls 3 x 15 (superset with flexor and extensor pulls)
    • cable hip flexor and extensor pulls 3 x 15(superset with abductor and adductor pulls)
    • DB shoulder press 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • DB curls 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • core exercises (do one after the other with 90 seconds rest between sets)
      • reverse crunches 3 x 20
      • Russian twists 3 x 25
      • kneeling back extensions 3 x 15
  • Thursday
    • endurance or recovery miles as needed
  • Friday
    • leg press 5 x 5 (2-5 minute rest between sets
    • sissy squats 3 x 15 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • walking lunges 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • DB straight-leg dead lift 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • cable abductor and adductor pulls 3 x 15
    • cable hip flexor and extensor pulls 3 x 15
    • DB shrugs 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • Tricep pressdown 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • core exercises (do one after the other with 90 seconds rest between sets)
      • hanging leg raise 3 x 15
      • external ball crunches 3 x 15
      • alternating kneeling back extensions 3 x 15
  • Saturday
    • endurance or recovery miles as needed
  • Sunday
    • endurance or recovery miles as needed

I know the above was rather lengthy. I figure that in order to ride at a higher intensity before tiring-out I must do two things: 1. train just under my Lactate Threshold or perform T-Max intervals (Ultimate intervals), and 2. Train with resistance. In this phase I must gain basic strength, for in January I’ll shift focus to building power, this will be the Specialization phase, which I will cover at that time.

There’s so much information to cram into this post– I’m trying to keep it simple. In short, organized and sensible training is required for performance. Like the old database information rule- garbage in equals garbage out.

Why not go to the race with the best engine you can have?

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One response

18 12 2009
Barb Chamberlain

I’ve started on endurance miles and intervals but don’t have the calisthenics in my plan yet. I suppose I’d better get going if we’re going to be able to go on some weekend rides together.

@BarbChamberlain

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