Swim leg, ICan Mallorca 2011 Triathlon.

Swim leg, ICan Mallorca 2011 Triathlon. (Photo: Inigo Mujika)

A few months ago I wrote an article for issue number 5 of the triathlon magazine Trisense. Here you can read the first part, which represents an introduction about the need to look for alternatives to the traditional models of training program design:

Endurance sports such a triathlon require the manipulation and quantification of the intensity, volume and frequency of training sessions during the days, weeks and months an athlete’s preparation lasts. The concepts microcycle, mesocycle, macrocycle, continuous training, lactate threshold or high intensity interval training sound familiar, but it is not clear to everyone how to deal with them to obtain the maximal performance out of the athletes we work with.

Periodization is a tool that helps us design training plans. It was conceptualized in 1964 on the basis of the experience of coaches and scientists from the Soviet Union, then it expanded to other countries until it reached a universal status and practically monopolized training planning and analysis. That model of periodization, established about fifty years ago, has barely changed despite the evolution that has taken place in sports.

Some of the most significant changes that have taken place are as follows:

• Major increase in the number of competitions and their contribution to the total training load of an athlete.
• Potent financial stimuli for high level athletes.
• Increased cooperation and exchange between coaches and sport scientists from all over the world, with its subsequent positive impact on the quality of training and sports performance.
• Fight against illegal pharmacological interventions.
• Application of advanced sports technologies and training methods, which facilitate the monitorization of training loads, and improve biomedical follow-up and elaboration of advanced training equipment and new materials.

In addition, it is necessary to adapt the planning to the new times, given that traditional periodization imposes many limitations to high level athletes. Here are some of them:

• Impossibility to provide multiple performance peaks in many competitions.
• Excessive fatigue accumulation with prolonged mixed training programs.
• Stagnation or reduced rate of improvement after major initial gains.
• Pronounced stress response at the higher limits of biological adaptation, with a subsequent increased risk of overtraining.
• Interaction between non-compatible training loads, inducing contradictory training responses.
• Insufficient training stimuli for high level athletes.


ISSURIN, V.B. (2010). New horizons for the methodology and physiology of training periodization. Sports Med. 40 (3): 189-206.

Share this post


Related posts


  1. Sergei Iljukov

    Inigo, you touched quite interesting topic indeed, the dogmas established by Leo Mateveev must be revisited and actually it begun in late 80-ies by Verhoshansky and Valdimir Issurin you referred to. It is some coincidence that You raised that topic as just recently I took pictures from PhD dissertations of Leo Matveev, Verhoshansky, Zaciorsky, Platonov, Issurin and Bondarenko, the most prominent researchers and practical coaches of that fiels. Looking forward reading You insights.

    January 31, 2012
  2. Iñigo Mujika

    Thank you for your comment Sergei. The second part of my article will be available in this blog in a few days. I will spend some time with Vladimir Issurin next April, and that will be a great opportunity to discuss these topics further

    February 6, 2012