|Inverted Periodization Complete Version|
The Inverted Periodization Training Method by Sergio Borges
THIS IS A PRELIMiNARY VERSION, FINAL WILL BE POSTED SOON WITH DETAILED WORKOUT PLANS, ETC.
When they train for long-distance races, most athletes end up over doing in volume. I guess the fear of not finishing a race could be the why. Many of our athletes have a sufficient enough endurance that they could do an Ironman race back-to-back. But, what they really want is to go from start to finish as fast they can, right? It doesn’t matter if they can do it back-to-back. As an athlete, specially if you have been training for a while, it is so much easier to gain endurance than speed. So, when athletes spend 3 or 4 months doing only endurance, they end up staying away from speed workouts far too long. When they get back to speed work, they lost most of their last season speed, mobility, elasticity and strength. I like to say: “The fast-twitch muscle fiber has been sleeping so long, it makes the process of getting fast again longer and more difficult”.
Introducing the Four Cycles of Inverted Periodization
The model presented in Table 1 has four cycles developed for half- and full-iron. These cycles and can be adapted for Olympic distances. The only change would be on the quality and length of intervals we do close to the competition phase, cycle III. That is going to be more specific to the distance. For the half and ironman distance races, I recommend a little longer “brick” workouts and the intensity is mild compared to what I do for the short and Olympic distance races. However, the philosophy is the same and the athletes will be working with the different volumes for the distances. When discussing the ITU athletes I coach, we are going to be working just a little harder on the swim (more quality and volume), and probably one more quality run workout per week, depending on the athlete background, because that is the characteristic of the race. For most of the other athletes that do both races (draft and non-draft), they go through the exact same cycle; however, they wouldn’t do the cycle for volume (IV). The volume they do, especially trough the swim, gives them enough endurance for the distance they’re racing. The quality of some intervals on cycle III is different for different race distances.
The Training Year
To help bring these cycles into a yearly perspective let’s look at some dates.
If I get beginning athletes with sprinting backgrounds, I would skip this phase and put them straight into more aerobic power/oxygen economy, which is cycle III. It depends on the background of the athletes, but the majority of athletes I have worked with have no background at all. They started in triathlon because it was fun. Consequently, I start a little slower, especially if they are older. This is to control as much as I can. It’s funny to say but especially with older athletes, they are the ones who need more speed and strength training than anyone else. They are the ones who have lost the most. That is where they are going to get their gain—not on a bike 5-6 times a week, but rather in a gym and doing speed work. The older an athlete is, the more emphasis needed on speed and strength. Take me for instance—I am 40. If I want to race at the same level I raced 10 years ago, I spend more time working core, strength and speed then I did when I first started. When you are younger, you have more speed and strength but you end up losing it.
Selling the Concept to Clients
This different approach, which has a good deal of discomfort built in, may not be appealing to many athletes. I explain to them to think about how they have prepared in the past. Why then do they think they must do all the volume at the beginning of the year if they are only racing in July?