Periodization of Conditioning: A Scientific Practical Approach - Part 1

Periodization of Conditioning: A Scientific Practical Approach - Part 1

Periodization of Conditioning: A Scientific Practical Approach
by Professor Angel Spassov

The major difference between present-day athletes and those from the past is the ability of present-day athletes to perform their skills at a greater intensity. This is possible because today’s athletes are much better conditioned than those from year's past. But what exactly is conditioning? Conditioning is the balanced development of the following qualities: speed, strength, endurance, agility and flexibility.

The needs of conditioning training relate mainly to three important areas:
• Decreasing the probability of injuries
• Increasing the intensity of the applied skills
• Fulfilling the requirements of a difficult sports calendar

The ultimate planning of long- and short-term sports training requires a certain structure of the volume and intensity of the training load. To solve this problem, it is necessary that the total training time be divided into different periods. This process is commonly called periodization. L.P. Matveev, published in 1965 in Moscow, formulated the scientific basis of the periodization in the book “Problems for Periodization of the Sports Training”.

What is Periodization?

Periodization is the structuring of volume, intensity, and the means of the sports training -- depending on the sports calendar -- for the complete development of athletic potential. Periodization requires dividing the total training period into smaller period time units with certain duration and tasks. The following is a sample periodization calendar with the three training periods of Off-Season, Pre-Season and In-Season:

Off-Season / Fundamental Preparation Period
1. Active Rest (one month)
2. Fundamental Training (two to five months)

Pre-Season / Direct Preparation for Certain Competitive Events Period

1. Intensive (4 weeks)
2. Tapering (2 weeks)


1. Mesocycles: Usually these are sub-periods lasting from 1.5 to 3 months. Every mesocycle contains 4 microcycles:

  • Initial
  • Fundamental
  • Intensive
  • Tapering

2. Microcycles: These are the most important units of the periodization, lasting from a few days to a few weeks. They are:

  • Initial (1-2 weeks)
  • Fundamental (2-4 weeks)
  • Intensive (2-3 weeks)
  • Tapering (1-2 weeks)

For Long Competitive Seasons

Sometimes in an intensive, long, competitive season we can structure weekly cycles on the base of microcycles. For example:

  • Initial – Monday
  • Fundamental – Tuesday
  • Intensive – Wednesday
  • Tapering – Thursday
  • Pre-competitive Warm-up – Friday
  • Competition – Saturday
  • Full Rest – Sunday


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