Periodization is the backbone of an instructor's success, and it can quickly become the key to your popularity as an instructor and it will become the foundation for your students to reach their goals. Periodization is the process of structuring training into progressive phases or blocks of time that are organized into Macro, Meso and Micro cycles. The outdoor cycling community uses periodization as a method to increase their strength and to peak for their target (or A) race.
One of the most important parts of periodization is the planning process where you will divide your an annual training plan into sensible blocks, where each block has a particular physiological adaptation and accordingly a specific dose of stress to elicit that adaptation. While I realize that you may not use an annual plan in your indoor classes, in a later article I will explain how to use the periodization concept in designing your rides. The planning and the journey is really the important part of this process; it gives you time to consider your goals and get focused.
In short, periodization allows you to organize your training into hard training periods and easier training periods to facilitate recovery. Periodization can also help to expose your riders to different aspects of cycling and it can allow you to work on both your cardiopulmonary system and your musculoskeletal system which will produce stronger riders with greater endurance.
The macrocycle is the longest of the three cycles and generally consists of a year or more. The macrocycle should include all of the areas of a complete training program including low zone endurance work, strength building, race ready maintenance and of course recovery. The macrocycle is your long term view of your training plan.
The second block of training is called a mesocycle. Your macrocycle will contain several mesocycles. While a macrocycle is a long term view of training, a mesocycle represents a specific block of training that is focused towards a particular physiological adaptation and usually not more than 3-6 weeks long. This could be endurance, strength or perhaps even recovery. Mesocycles are the true working phases of your training plan, and you will use these cycles as careful evaluation points to be sure that you are meeting your training objectives. It is not uncommon for there to be an intermetiate resting or recovery period between mesocycles.
The smallest block of training is called a microcycle. The microcycle is the point at which you are considering and designing specific drills to meet the required stress to force your adaptation. An example of a microcycle is an endurance block where a you put together several long rides in a week to progressively overload the training volume and force an adaptation. Usually, you will have four or more microcycles within a mesocycle and then four or more mesocycles within a macrocycle.
This organizational approach is valuable in indoor cycling for 3 reasons:
1) It provides balance between the volume, intensity and specificity of training.
2) It provides a method for progressively increasing the amount of training or level of intensity as fitness increases.
3) It provides a connection with how the cycling community trains throughout the year; moving from the General to the Specific.
While an annual plan is not always practical for indoor cycling, in a future article I will discuss an approach to periodize your indoor classes over a much shorter time frame that will provide three main advantages for your classes:
1) Because of the changes in focus, you will provide varying stimulus to your participants, hopefully allowing them to continue without hitting a plateau.
2) Your rides will not just have separate playlists, but also separate focused training which will keep the classes interesting for the students.
3) By varying the classes you will be exposing your students to many different aspects of cycling and hopefully have them embrace the “Fusion” of the outside and inside rides.
I hope this helps......Joey