Periodisation: a systematic planning of athletic training

12 December 2019

Periodisation is the long-term systematic planning and division to maximise performance to coincide with important competitions of the season and involves structuring the annual training plan into phases.

Utilising a periodised training approach for sports also enables better management of performance variables such as load, intensity, fatigue and recovery.

A well-structured periodisation program can enable athletes to develop fitness & sports-specific skills, maintain a consistent performance level, (while minimising injury and fatigue) and peak for the important fixtures of the season.


There are 3 phases in the periodisation model: Macrocycle, Mesocycle and Microcycle.

The macrocycle is the longest phase in the periodisation model and covers 1 entire sporting season, typically including also pre and post-season. It provides a long-term outlook of the training structure for the calendar year.

A mesocycle is the phase within a macrocycle, lasting anywhere between 2-6 weeks. This cycle is a (useful) way of breaking down the macrocycle into manageable and systematic training sessions, designed to accomplish specific goals in a medium

A microcycle is a short period of training within a mesocycle, typically lasting 7 days. The goal of a microcycle is to facilitate a focused block of vigorous training, followed by lighter training. Microcycles are often used in preparation for a matchday or competition.


Traditional / Linear:

Linear periodisation aims at developing a single fitness characteristic (endurance, speed, power) during the meso or micro-cycle phase. It typically starts with high volume and low-intensity work and transitions to high intensity and low volume work.

Non traditional/ Non-Linear:

Non-linear periodisation aims at developing multiple fitness characteristics during the meso or micro-cycle phases. Contrary to linear periodisation, this method constantly changes training volume, intensity and exercises to achieve multiple types of physical stimuli.

Block Periodisation:

A method commonly used by Olympic weightlifters, the idea of block periodisation focuses on highly-concentrated training workloads, or blocks, consisting of 3 stages: accumulation, transmutation, and realisation.

1. Accumulation: athletes accumulate basic motor and technical abilities such as aerobic endurance or general strength, with high volume and low to average intensity.

2. Transmutation: athletes transmute the basic abilities obtained in the previous phase and apply them to sport-specific training. The volume is slightly decreased while the intensity increases.

3. Realisation: athletes realise their full potential and preparedness for the competition. Training intensity and volume are low as the focus is on restoration and recovery.

As with all training systems, periodisation should be ideally tailored to the individual needs, responses, and level of the athlete to maximise progression and manage fatigue.

The training cycles’ length, goal, and focus should also be designed and altered to accommodate for the specific sport and competition calendar