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Day to Day Periodisation for Long Term Gains

Periodisation is a cool word.

As a younger coach, I thought it was the holy grail, it was some magic secret that the experienced coaches all knew about that I didn’t yet have the wisdom to comprehend.

Articles had graphs and images like this one…

And then one day the penny dropped.

It’s just how we organise training.

Build up for bit Back off for a bit Focus on one attribute for a bit Focus on a different attribute for a bit Don’t forget to back off Build up again etc

The word periodisation just means doing all that in a particular order or sequence.

Where this really is important is in the training of a competitive athlete. Someone who has a competition schedule and you can predict when they need to peak, work out how long you have for training and divide that into “periods”


Suddenly I was wise!

Then I realised that my obsession was fairly worthless.

You see maybe 20% of my clientele are serious competitors. Another 30% are keen weekend warriors, competing more for personal challenge than podium places. And the majority are simply training for general fitness.

And it’s this majority that don’t need to worry about any of the periodisation models out there.

Life will inevitably give them the ups and downs that they need without convoluted programming.

A general fitness client is likely to have a full time job, a full time family, a hobby or two, a commute AND the training they do in the gym. Their life contains family get togethers, meetings at work, trips away, periods of high stress and periods of low stress.

And in my own current case a period where I’m on antibiotics and feeling like shit.

This is real life.

And in that vein training should be “periodised” on a day by day basis. Go hard today because they’ve meetings the rest of the week and can’t make it in. Or go easy today because their coming of the back of an illness.

Push them this week because their boss is away and they have a little extra time and a little less stress. Easy them off this week because they’re at a critical point in some project at work and the boss is breathing down their neck.

How do we judge this from a coaches perspective?

There are two methods. The best one and the second best one.

The good thing is, the second best one makes the best one betterer. So lets start there.

HRV Monitoring.

I recommend this to online clients and some of my in house clients. Why? Because it is the ultimate in measuring you recovery, indicating your cardio vascular ability, showing the stress levels in the body and therefore extrapolating whether today is a go hard or go easy kind of day.

You get a screen that looks like this:

“today’s readiness” is your indication of how recovered you are. And if you have a lot of stress in your life, it’s a great guide to monitoring how well you’re handling it. One client I recommended this too last year managed to use it so effectively she finally managed to work out despite her Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

This leads us to…..

The Best Method

Which is to talk to people and observe body language. I talk a lot about how everything can be an assessment. The way someone walks through reception, steps onto the training floor, says hello etc, these are all valuable assessments from a coaching perspective. No, were not measuring degrees of extension at the glenohumeral joint. But we ARE getting an indication of that athletes mindset for today. We can then chat to them, listening to both tone of voice and the words used AND watching their body language. And finally we can observe them do the warm up we’ve seen them do dozens of times previously and make mental comparisons to today’s warm up and the previous few.

And with all that, we know if that athlete is in need of pushing or resting. Add the HRV info to that and you’ve got a great insight into how that person is really doing. Which means we can periodise on the fly.

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Dave Hedges

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