HIT THE BLOCKS
The usual way to periodise endurance training is to increase aerobic capacity over the winter with long, moderate-intensity sessions. Then in the spring you crank it up, building speed from that foundation of stamina. It’s a tried and trusted model, but it has its drawbacks.
‘If you’re an experienced athlete, it might not provide the physiological overload you need to improve,’ says Inigo Mujika, a leading exercise physiologist. ‘That’s where block periodisation comes in.’
Block periodisation involves mini-blocks throughout the year that focus on one or two aspects of performance. So if you’re looking to increase speed, you may load three weeks with speed sessions, with little rest. It’s heavy duty but pays dividends.
In a study comparing two groups of cyclists over four weeks, the block group exhibited a 4.6% improvement in VO2 max, 2.1% quicker time-trial effort and 10% increase in power output, all better than the traditional periodisation group.
PLANNING YOUR SESSION
You need to follow block periodisation for a year to maximise its benefits. Just ensure your body’s used to high-intensity sessions before you start.