Have you ever worked hard at the gym, day in and day out, and not seen results from your diligence? This is a common occurrence for many exercise enthusiasts who have the best of intentions but lack the scientific application of periodization to aid their workout.
In order for a body to get stronger and faster it must be exposed to a stimulus, or overload, and then allowed adequate time to respond. This is precisely what a periodized training program can do for you, by challenging the body in a progressive manner and allowing ample time for recovery.
There are essentially three variables in a periodized training plan: volume, intensity and frequency. Volume is the total amount of time a specific activity is performed each week; intensity is how hard an athlete works; and frequency is the number of days per week an athlete performs the activity. By altering the volume, intensity and frequency of any training program, a body can begin to adapt to the workload, which results in a stronger, faster athlete. By varying intensity, frequency and volume, the body avoids plateauing, or stagnating. And given adequate recovery time, each and every athlete can progress and see the measurable results of their hard work. The Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University confirms this theory in a study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal in 2001. The study concludes, “a periodized strength training program can produce better results than an non-periodized program.”
Power Cycle Training classes held at the Vail Vitality Center provide another clear example of the efficacy of a periodized program. During one winter session I led, each and every participant saw tangible results cycling just two days per week. The average increase in power at lactate threshold was 11 percent. Riders gained an average of 18 watts in 8 weeks and one rider improved over 40 watts.
More power means more speed; it’s as simple as that. Riders can pedal faster while staying aerobic on climbs and flats. Without getting into the science of power training (I’ll save that topic for another column), the equation to keep in mind is this: increasing watts equals faster riders. In fact, one woman came to class 10 weeks post-op from a total hip replacement. She was able to safely pedal a bike and was cleared by her doctor to participate in the program. Through hard work and dedication she completed each and every workout and walked away from the course not only fully rehabilitated from her surgery, but in stellar cycling shape, improving by 50 percent and 60 watts.