HIT THE BLOCKS

8

Men's Fitness - - Endurance -

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.

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