When it comes to training plans, we are always on the lookout for the next best method. MTK highly believes in the method of periodization. But… what the hell is that?

Periodization training by definition  is the purposeful manipulation of training variables to optimize performance for competition, prevent overtraining, and progress performance. Adjustments in duration, load, or volume are planned out over a specific period of time to achieve these objectives.


There are 3 basic phases: macro, meso, and micro cycles… we won’t get suuuuper deep with this because it’s really technical and we could spend days talking about cycles. BUT. TL;DR – 

  1. Macrocycle – These are the big picture cycles. They typically cover a longer period of time, like a year, before a competition. However, they can span longer periods, such as 4 years, for athletes competing in the Olympics.
  2. Mesocycle – These tend to be 4–6 week cycles within the macrocycle. For example, they typically involve 3 weeks of progressive intensity training followed by a week of lower intensity training… AKA a deload. It’s well documented that we’re big fans of the deload, you need to be including them in your training. 
    • In case you don’t remember why we are fans of deload week: A deload week is a week of training where you’re bringing down weight and still doing movements but not at the same amount of intensity. It’s a reduction of the total volume and intensity of your workouts
    • Deloads are important because they help you avoid over training, and they give your muscles a break and time to repair themselves after you’ve just completed a cycle while still going to the gym
  3. Microcycle – These are short cycles within the mesocycle. They generally last a week. They can vary in intensity on the different training days of the week.
  4. There are 3 common methods of implementing periodization in your training:
    • Linear – This involves changing load and volume over several mesocycles (usually every 1–4 months). Each cycle would have progressive weeks of increasing intensity followed by a recovery week with light load and intensity.
    • Nonlinear – Load and volume are changed more frequently, such as daily or weekly, typically with the load increasing but volume decreasing. This is thought to be more appropriate for sports where there are multiple competitions during an event, like a triathlon.
    • Reverse – This is a form of nonlinear periodization, except that the load is decreased while the volume increases. These may be more appropriate for those competing in endurance races with longer distances. 
      • Multiple studies have found no significant difference in the benefit of one periodization program over another. Both linear training progressions and nonlinear training programs produced similar strength gains… so basically, whatever keeps you from getting bored, go with it. 


  1. Cycling
    • A cyclist may be prepping for a 80-100 mile ride in 3 months. The athlete knows that the course will have multiple sections of hills. They may start with varying their rides throughout the week to include hill training, sprint work, and a longer distance ride.
    • As the competition gets closer, the distances will increase while the intensity of the workouts will decrease.
  2. Running
    • Say you signed up for a 5K. You’ve run farther than this in the past but want to get faster. You could do the same training scheme as the cyclist (hill training, sprint intervals, and a 5K run).
    • However, in this case, the intensity may increase as training continues but for shorter distances during runs.
    • The important thing with running, in my opinion, is to build gradually over a period of time. Regardless of goal. If you want to get faster, that comes with breaking your training up on your running days. (IE: If you have 3 days of running built into your plan, 1-2 of those days are going to be your endurance days, where you’re stricting getting your mileage in, maybe that means you’re also adding in hills and other terrane, and one of the three days is dedicated to distance, getting your mileage in)
  3. Strength
    • You may perform an 8/12/16-week program (the mesocycle) where you progressively increase the load lifted each week for 3 weeks while decreasing the number of repetitions. Then, the fourth week may be a recovery week that involves a lower load or a lower volume… repeat for the next 4 weeks, then retest 1RM. 


The best plan length is one you’re willing to commit to, if you need a baseline to start from, we can break down some examples of different cycle lengths. 

  1.  8 weeks (two months)
    • Works well for beginner strength and running programs. Your body can adapt to training plans pretty quickly at the beginning of your fitness journey, the 8 week plan is great to help fight that, AND it’s a great way to help you see how much progress you can REALLY make in two months. 
      • Basic bodybuilding, powerlifting, and powerbuilding – 4-5x a week, for about an hour. Usually linear or nonlinear with a deload every fourth week. 
      • Beginner couch to 5K – 3x a week for 20-30 minutes a day, starts at a very low intensity with a lot of walking and ends with you running a 5K nonstop. 
  2. 12 weeks (three months)
    • Works well for intermediate to advanced strength and intermediate running programs. 
      • Olympic lifting – 4-5x a week, generally nonlinear, Can last for 1-2 hours depending on skill level. Consists of a deload every fourth week and a 1RM retest at the end of a mesocycle.
      • 10K training – typically you’re going to do running 3x a week and lifting 3x a week on the days you’re not running, 2 shorter run days and one long run day
  3. 16 weeks (four months)
    • Works well for intermediate to advanced cycling and advanced running programs… I’d you’re doing endurance sports, you should be rocking the four-month cycle to help avoid burnout and injury.
      • Marathon/half marathon training – Again, running 3x a week and a hybrid lifting program 3 days a week. 2 shorter run days (beginning in 3 mile/per run increments, and 1 long run day.) These runs build in length each week or every other week, typically adding a mile to each segment of your run days
      • Cycling road race training – 3-5x per week, 2-3 riding days with 2 cross-training days. 

Periodization is a way for athletes to maximize gains for peak performance, minimize the risk of injury, and prevent training from getting boring. General fitness enthusiasts and amateur athletes can also use this type of training plan.

Periodization applies to anyone prepping for a competition or who wants to vary their workouts to constantly force the body to adapt. BUT one needs to monitor their amount and intensity of their training to make sure overtraining doesn’t happen.



No responses yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.