Block Periodization

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The most important and fundamental principle of block periodization is the concentration of the training workloads. The rationale which mediates it, is the long-established fact that only highly-concentrated training workloads can produce sufficient stimuli for any remarkable gains of the appropriate motor and/or technical abilities in high-level athletes (Issurin 2010). This principle is controversial to complex design where many abilities are developed simultaneously. Issurin (2010) points out that training cycles (he calls them training blocks or mesocycles) should be specialized and compiled in order to produce one of three different effects:

  1. Accumulation – athletes should accumulate basic motor and technical abilities for potential use
  2. Transmutation – athletes should transmute their potential to eventspecific preparedness
  3. Realization – athletes should realize theid preparadness in readiness for competition and reaching the planned result.

 

Table 1. Main characteristics of the three types of blocks-mesocycles (modified from Issurin, 2008)

Characteristics Accumulation phase Transmutation phase Realization phase
Targeted motor and technical abilities Basic abilities:

Aerobic endurance Basic coordination

General strength

Sport-specific abilities:

Strength endurance

Power

Special endurance

Anaerobic threshold

……

Tapering:

Modeled performance

Speed

Tactics

Mental preparation

Recovery Periods of recovery needed for adaptation. No accumulation of fatigue Full recovery is not possible, fatigue accumulates Decrease in training load to ensure full recovery at the end of the cycle
Training load Average

High volume, reduced intensity.

High

Reduced volume, increased intensity

Low/average

Low volume, intensity high

Testing battery Tests for basic abilities. Discipline specific if possible Tests for sport-specific abilities Tests for speed, event strategy, ……

 

Like in classical periodization, the planning of the  annual cycle starts with the determination of the most important competitions. Accoding to the level of the athlete it means world championships, Olympics, National championships, national junior championships etc.

The next step is the dividing of the annual cycle into training stages, where each one contains a consecutive combination of extensive work on basic abilities, more intensive work on sport-specific abilities and the reduction that is accomplished by testing or competition.  The rationale of selecting training stages is based on residual training effects,  that allowes competitive performacne at a high level of all motor and technical abilities.

From the general point of view these training stages look like miniature annual cycles by including a block resembling the preparatory period, a block resembling the competitive period and ends with tapering. Based on above mentioned considerations, the annual cycle design can be presented as the sequence of the training blocks, where similar aims can be presented as the sequence of more or less autonomous stages, where similar aims can be obtained by means of a partially renewed and qualitatively improved training program (Issurin, 2008).

It should be very important to end the realization phase with some kind of competition to have information about the effect of the training cycle and to monitor the performance. In case the competition is not possible, it should be substituted with a testing battery, specific for the aims of the training cycle.  For example, if the training cycle was targeted to development of maximal power, the testing batery should include maximal power testing.

References

  1. Issurin, V. (2008) Block periodization versus traditional training theory. J Sports Med Phys Fit, 48: 65–75.
  2. Issurin, V. (2010) New horizons for the methodology and physiology of training periodization. Sports Med, 40: 189–206.
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