Periodisation of Training: Weekly Periodisation Part 1

Periodisation is a term used by coaches and sports scientists alike to describe the concept of varying training load and/or stimulus to maximise the benefits for their athlete(s). This can happen at many different levels weekly, monthly or yearly. The focus of this article will be on the periodisation that occurs within a week and why we do so.

Most athletes only have a very discrete amount of time to train each week. Unless of course they are a professional athlete then the training that they do revolves around their work and other commitments. If we break down everything we need to do each day, sleeping, eating, family time, study, work, etc…. there isn’t much time left for training, but even more critically there isn’t much time left to recover from the training that is done. When you recover that is when you get the benefits of the training. If you don’t recover from your training you don’t improve.

Improvement is the whole reason for training. We train to improve. Depending on the session, we could be aiming to improve our skills or technique, or we could be training to improve some physiological function. Maybe it is to make the heart and lungs more efficient.  Maybe we are improving our ability to tolerate lactic acid.  Maybe we are trying to build strength or lose weight. All these improvement will only occur if you recover from the session. Not enough recovery = not enough improvement.

Lets look at an example of someone who has time each week for three training sessions. How would you plan these sessions to maximise the time they have available to recover?

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Training Training Training

You need to structure the training so that the training sessions have as much recovery between them as possible. In this example we could even classify each day crudely as either having a Hard (H) training load on Day 1, Day 3 and Day 5, and a Low or Easy (E) training load on the other days of the week making for an Easy day training wise, thus following a H, E, H, E, H, E, E sequence. After each training day there is at least a day off training between to allow recovery to occur and your body to adapt.

What if we had four training sessions per week? How would we structure it then? There has to be a double up of days that have back-to-back sessions. What days do we put the back-to-back sessions on? Even if you put the fourth session on Day 7, this will be back-to-back with Day 1 of the following week.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Training Training  Training  Training

In the case above I would recommend that Day 3’s workout is not as tough as Day 4’s, so in effect we have a H, E, M, H, E, M/H, E sequence where M is Moderate training load.

Although both these examples work, depending on the challenge of the workouts done, you are more effective to workout most days of the week (five or six days).

Part two of this article can be read here.

Periodisation of Training: Weekly Periodisation Part 2

If you would like further advice feel free to contact me.

I am the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi Coaching.

I specialise in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. I can be contacted at and 021 348 729.

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