The power of periodisation when trying to lose weight
In general, periodisation is a long-term training strategy that involves organising the training plan into specific interconnected cycles. Each of these cycles has particular goals and prepares the individual for the subsequent cycle. In today’s blog post, we will explore how we can apply periodisation when the goal is weight-loss.
To successfully apply the periodisation system to your weight-loss pursuits, it’s helpful to pair your training plan with some external events, like hike challenge, running a marathon, cycling race, etc. For this reason, I decided to draw a real-world example of a person with a hike challenge goal of 20 miles, with a target to lose 6 kg.
But before we dive into the real-world example, let’s get familiar with the basics of periodisation.
The basics of periodisation
As mentioned, periodisation is a long-term training strategy. It was initially designed for athletes, but soon, it proved beneficial for the rest of the population.
Researchers found that non-periodised training programmes can lead to accommodation ( if the training stress remains at the same magnitude, the body is not forced to adapt, which will result in training plateau) and become less effective after 6-8 weeks.
All periodised training programmes need to consider the individual’s fitness level and fitness goals.
There are three types of periodisation:
- Traditional periodisation
- Block periodisation
- Undulating periodisation
Here we will describe only traditional periodisation as it is most suitable and shared among people who want to improve their fitness and lose weight.
In traditional periodisation the training progression flows from high-volume, low intensity to low-volume, high-intensity over time. In other words, the traditional periodisation model involves the progression from general to specific training exercises/actions that help reach our ultimate goal.
The largest cycle in the traditional periodisation system is called macrocyle, divided into three phases: the preparatory phase, the competitive phase, and the active recovery phase.
The preparatory phase
The goal of the first preparatory phase is to improve your general fitness, in other words, your work capacity. Training in this phase usually involves a wide range of exercises and high volumes of training at low intensities. In this phase, training intensity increases gradually ( training volume decreases) as you progress towards your competitive phase.
This system applies to both cardio and resistance training.
The first transition phase
The first transition phase consists of reducing training volume and intensity to allow recovery time and prepare the body for the next competitive phase. We will see how this works in the practical example below.
The competitive phase
The competitive phase focuses on specific exercises to achieve particular adaptations related to the specific event or competition. The training volume is reduced in this phase, and intensity from our first transition phase is maintained.
The second transition phase
The second transition phase is a recovery from the competition phase, and it involves a significant reduction in training and prolonged duration of rest periods. Furthermore, this last phase usually lasts 1-4 weeks.
As a practical example, I will describe a training preparation from one of our clients. His goal was to complete his 20 miles hiking challenge and lose 6 kg-s of weight (body fat) in the process.
Here is what his periodised training plan looked like.
As you can see from the example above, there are two phases: general preparation and specific preparation. Note: This training programme is personalised to a specific client.
Since our client was a beginner, we kept resistance training whole-body workout twice per week and standalone cardio training once per week in the general preparation phase. During the cardio training, we made sure that our client completed his weekly mile target.
We focused on leg workout (resistance phase) and hiking movement techniques in the specific preparation phase.
Furthermore, you will notice his pacing speed, which increased from 3 to 6 km/h gradually.
In terms of nutrition, we designed a personalised nutritional programme in sync with the periodised training programme. In other words, we were making sure that our client stayed within his daily calorie threshold (consuming nutrient-dense foods) but still had the energy to complete the miles target.
After his competitive phase (20 miles hike challenge), for a T2 or second transition phase, we prescribed light walking a couple of times per week, achieving a maximum of 0.5 miles.
As a result of his periodised training programme, our client lost 6.5 kg-s and completed his hike challenge. That is the power of periodisation.
For the periodised training programme to be most effective, it’s important to link it with a specific competitive event, like hike challenge in this case. Doing this will ensure a gradual and systematic increase in exercise intensity with clear milestones to reach along the way.
A periodisation training system will help you lose weight if appropriately planned. It’s all about the right balance between resistance and cardio training methods, general and specific phases.
Remember one more time: For the training programme to be effective and help you lose weight, it needs to be entirely personalised.
Until next time,
Damir Pervan, Founder and CEO of TrainChampion | Online weight-loss platform