Optimizing your Performance with Period Training


            In my experience with clients, many of whom are avid runners, I find that the best way to train for their peak performance are in 4-8 week intervals that I call training periods.  Logically, weight training and cardiovascular workouts can not be done to the max for every session due to oveuse injuries, overtraining, and actual reductions in quality performance.  Consequently, my clients follow a training program that focuses on strength and power for a few weeks and then transitions to a focus on core stability and flexibility. 

The duration and scheduling of the training periods depend on your goals for when you want optimal performance.  For example, if you are preparing for a 10K race in the fall, we would plan a schedule of strength and power for 8 weeks in the spring/summer and then transition to core training and flexibilty/maintainenceas the event was approaching.  Many runners tend to shy away from heavy weight training, yet such weight training can prevent overuse injuries and provide an overall stronger body and core to carry you through your event.  Just because you mainly use your legs in running does not mean that they do not require the resistance training that the rest of your body needs.

Most runners will want their performance levels to peak in the prime running seasons of fall and spring and shift to lighter workouts afterwards.  Ultimately, period training consists of three periods.  The first period is increasing flexibility and stability through 3 weekly sessions of core work for 30-45 minutes.  Each session focuses on 3 sets of 15 repetitions of exercises such as lunges with rotations and stability ball/bosu exercises.  Period one usually lasts for eigth weeks in the winter and four weeks in the summer.  The second period is increasing strength and power through 3 weekly sessions that focus on resistance training for the legs, shoulder, chest, and back.  Many athletes use the pyramid technique during this period where they will do 3 sets but with 10, 8, and 6 repetitions respectively.  For great gains in strength, 2 weekly sessions of plyometrics and total body exercises are essential.  Period 2 usually lasts for four weeks in the early spring to summer seasons.  Period 3 is the maintainence period where clients are close to the goal running event and they are aiming to maintain the significant progress they made from the 2 previous training periods.  Volume in the gym is reduced to two 30-minute workouts with 2 sets of 8-12 repetitions per exercise.

In summary, consider using training periods or cycles in your workout regiment to reduce overtraining and increase overall performance quality for athletic events or just for your overall well-being and fitness.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to e-mail me at dellfitness@hotmail.com or visit www.dellfitness.com .