Does reverse periodization work?

For many of you out there you may never have heard of periodization let alone reverse periodization.

So what is periodization?

“Periodization is the systematic planning of athletic or physical training. The aim is to reach the best possible performance in the most important competition of the year. It involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period.”

How does it work?

Within cycling it generally goes through 3 main phases of base, build and peak although some people use more phases with different names. I find 3 phases sufficient and simple enough to work with. Generally base training is done in the winter which consists of long, slow steady miles to build aerobic fitness. The next phase moves onto the build phase where some intensity is added to the sessions to build muscular endurance along with some anaerobic efforts.  The last phase is the peak which gets you ready for race fitness, sessions now replicate race duration/intensity to replicate the demands on the body.

Base, build, peakThere is a saying that “the bigger the base, the bigger peak” however there are many other factors that influence this such as training time available/number of years cycling etc.

 

 

So how does reverse periodization work?

The reverse periodization structure instead starts with anaerobic hard efforts before moving onto more tempo work with some high intensity to increase the length of fatigue at higher intensity. It then Reverse periodizationmoves to endurance phase before finally ending up at the peak by doing low intensity training with a mix of high intensity max race efforts. By developing the speed/power first then teaching your body to maintain it for longer you may benefit with a dramatic improvement in you speed endurance over the training plan.

Normal versus Reversed

For me, I’m a great fan of the normal method as this has been proved numerous times in the pasted with pro athletes however this does require a large amount of hours to be beneficial, such as around 10hours per week.

My training has been going well using this method and my FTP has increased steadily however what prompted me to write this article was speaking to another cyclist who has been doing the reverse. As you can see from the below graph I am rider B and his data has been plotted as rider A.

Reverse Periodization

 

We started from a greater power difference but to date the gap has reduced greatly. Now this is not an exact experiment as there are many other factors to take into account however it was interesting to see it on paper.

Conclusion

So as you can see there are gains to be had from both methods however it does go to show that you cannot hold form for the entire season. For some riders this method may suit their personal situation if they have less time to train in the winter or dislike riding in the cold and have an important race early in the season then it may be worth considering as an option.

 

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