At maarq, we’re not ever too far away from a training program, a cycling fitness training program that is.

Training Peaks Annual Training Plan Excerpt

The training program tends to bookend the day. In the morning it’s usually completing a fitness workout on the training plan (TP) and at the end of the day it could be reviewing performance to date or preparing for the next workout.
This TP is generally a season-based program that assists with developing fitness and capability over a period of months to peak at a targeted event.

For many years, this training regime has been based on the work of Joe Friel, considered an expert in the field of cycling training. Joe bases his work on the concept of periodisation, whereby volume and intensity of training is modulated over phases for the purpose of adaptation and peak performance in the athlete. Periodisation effectively breaks the entire training season into distinct periods with each having a specific purpose. As the season progresses, the training effect develops from a general base level and becomes more specific to match the demands of the target event. Each preceding period provides preparation and foundation for the next period such that the body gradually adapts, avoiding large abrupt changes. The training periods are regulated by the volume of training and intensity with interspersed rest periods.

Friel Training Periods

In the early stages, training volume is increased gradually to develop efficiency. Once a relative efficiency level is reached, intensity is more specifically introduced to enhance the ability to cope with higher stresses. At this same time training volume is gradually reduced to allow for greater amounts of rest. This approach provides a progressive overload of the body which is managed to allow for super-compensation and adaptation. When applied and monitored appropriately this approach should result in a finely tuned athlete with maximum performance potential for the target event.

Friel MTB TB Fig7_5 p84

These are large concepts, but in practice are relatively simple to follow. Essentially the notion is that over a period of months the body will be trained, fatigued and recovered in a cyclical manner with progressive increases in load. As the target peak performance draws very near, the load will be reduced with a focus on quality rest and targeted loading to provide the final sharpening for the event. Imagine an uncut diamond on the table, resembling a coarse rock. Over time, the jeweller will become more detailed and be much more specific about the cuts and finishing to complete the final presentation. The diamond does not become beautiful in one moment, it takes patience and a planned approach.

Friel MTB TB Fig7_3 p82

Much like it is for the athlete, early on large volume of training prepares efficiency, towards the peak reduced volume and more precise workouts sharpen the capability. The reason behind this adjustment in volume and intensity and rest? Because the athlete cannot train, race and perform at 100% absolute peak all season. If attempted, the likely result is burnout, breakdown or injury. Or worse, lack of interest.

So what does this mean for you at work? Think about the week or month you’ve just delivered at work. Was every day 100% input and output. Did you strive to deliver for the whole project or year at maximum? Or did you drag yourself toward that holiday break? It is highly likely that you delivered output each day and were present for all of it, but what if you kept a log and found that you had off days and high-output days and it was not sustained for successive periods?

Working at the Office

Could periodisation apply in the workplace? Some distinct similarities appear over at The Energy Project developed out of the US. They’ve assessed modern wok methods and suggest a new way for human beings to work, regulating energy expended and intermittent renewal periods. What if by applying a periodised approach to work we could adequately fuel our physical, spiritual, emotional and mental needs and maintain capacity for regular renewal? What if by consciously introducing targeted rest and renewal periods we delivered more, at higher quality and with capacity to achieve even better next time?

With the success that Joe Friel has achieved in the sporting domain, perhaps it’s time to review our methods and outputs at the workplace. Or perhaps you’re already well on the way!

Cycling Beach Rd Melbourne

*Graphics source: Friel, Joe “The mountain biker’s training bible: a complete training guide for the competitive mountain bikers” VeloPress, USA 2000

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