Periodisation Part One

As some of you may know I am currently studying for a degree in Sports Coaching for high performance Judo. As part of the course I have been researching methods of periodisation and how it applies to a competitive Judo setting. I will be writing a series of blog posts on this topic and hope you find them interesting as much of the information is relevant to periodisation within CrossFit.

Judo’s nature is highly competitive and from a biological standpoint it is a high intensity, intermittent combat sport that requires high levels of strength, conditioning and physical fitness (Degoutte, 2003). With this in mind, a coach of high performing athletes needs to understand the best ways to improve their fitness which in turn, will give the athlete the best possible chance of winning. Judo contests have a high metabolic demand, and it is therefore strategically important to know which energy system a Judoka is working in. Judo can be characterised by short duration with intermittent bouts of high intensity exercise (Degoutte, 2003).

For an athlete to ascend to the top level of sport, a well prepared, periodised strength and conditioning programme is an essential tool for development. Judo as a sport shares many similarities with CrossFit as a sport. On the day of competition a Judo athlete can face up to seven contests, and each contest can last from a matter of seconds all the way through to 10+ minutes. This is much like a day of competition in the sport of CrossFit (let’s be sure not to confuse CrossFit for sport and CrossFit for health), so I thought why not share my findings and see what we can extract from this research, and then apply to the CrossFit and fitness training for health and longevity.

So the aim of these posts will be to discuss the different types of periodisation models and see if we can extrapolate any of the information and apply it to CrossFit. Firstly it is important to understand what periodisation is.

Periodisation is a tool used to manage the time and more importantly the accumulation of stress within a training plan. Using periodisation allows a coach to split an athlete’s training plan into more manageable smaller blocks. This dissection of training volume allows for the implementation of low, medium and high stress training periods that allows for the maximum levels of regeneration and subsequent improvement in athletic performance (Krasilshchikov, 2010).

Several different definitions of periodisation exist. Verkhoshansky and Siff (2009) define periodisation as, “the long term cyclic structuring of training and practice to maximise performance to coincide with important competitions”. This definition is important in the context of Judo, as elite level Judo is based around a quadrinial training cycle where athletes aim to qualify for the Olympic games. Kreamer and Hakinnen (2002) define it as, “the programmed variation of training stimuli with the use of planned rest periods to augment the recovery and regeneration of an athletes potential.” This definition is also important to a Judoka as it focuses more around the areas of rest and recuperation to aid improvements in performance. Both definitions are relevant but focus on different areas of the periodisation process.

So what can we take away from this research and apply to CrossFit and fitness training in general?

Well the main point that jumps out straight away is that of Kreamer and Hakinnen (2002). To reiterate their definition of periodisation, “the programmed variation of training stimuli with the use of planned rest periods to augment the recovery and regeneration of an athlete’s potential.” This definition makes the point of R&R, this is an aspect of training that can easily evade most amateur and professional athletes alike.

Although CrossFit for health is a General Physical Preparedness Programme (GPP) that does not apply periodisation due to the need to ensure that we leave no stone unturned (and are ready for the unknown and the unknowable) we are still able to apply basic concepts of periodisation to enhance an already solid training protocol.

So now that we have a basic idea of what periodisation entails, I hear the question, “What can I take away from this post…”

As we CrossFitters actually enjoy training, our problem doesn’t often lay within motivating ourselves to get to the gym, but to leave it. Ensuring we take enough rest in our weekly plan is the key to seeing adequate improvements towards our goals whether they are performance related or aesthetic. On a basic note only with replenishment of energy stores and resynthesis of muscular tissue can subsequent adaption occur, this can only happen during rest periods.

As we progress through these posts I will be explaining the use and definitions of key terms that it is important to become familiar with if you wish to gain the most out of your training program.

Stay tuned for part two: The Use of the Traditional Model of Periodisation


Coach Lee

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