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07-06-2022 | Peter Koens

What is a Reverse Periodisation training programme?

How did we start training this year to prepare for the TOUR Transalp? As mentioned in the previous article I started with a 'Reverse periodisation' training program. Today I will explain what it is and how it works.


What is a 'Reverse periodisation' training program?

Many training programs consist of 6 phases

  • Pre-base. The phase where training is started slowly.
  • Base. The phase in which the foundation is laid, usually a lot of hours are made here.
  • Build. The building phase. Here the intensity goes up.
  • Peak. The phase just before the race. The size goes down a bit but the intensity is maximum.
  • Race. The phase of the race. Usually rest is taken before the race.
  • Recovery. The phase after the race. Focused on recovery.

A traditional training program begins with the Long Slow Distance (LSD) workouts in the pre-base and base phases. According to follow more and more (high) intensive interval trainings in the build and peak phase leading up to the race.

In a 'Reverse periodisation' training programme, however, one does not do LSD training in the pre-base and base phase, but starts with high-intensity interval training to get the condition to a high level as quickly as possible. Then, if necessary, LSD training is done in the build and peak phase of the training program. All this of course depends on the goal for which one is training. In my case it is the TOUR Transalp, a tough and long stage race over several days. But I can imagine that a cyclist who only rides criteriums has fewer LSD training sessions in his program. After all, we know that LSD training causes you to lose speed.

Why 'Reverse periodisation'?

There are several conceivable reasons why a cyclist might prefer a 'Reverse periodisation' program over a traditional training program. Firstly, because as a cyclist you live in an area where it's not really nice to cycle outside for hours on end due to the weather conditions. This applies to a lot people, especially if you have an office job.

What are the dangers of a 'Reverse periodisation' training program?

Most importantly, mental burnout threatens when you start doing very focused, over an extended period of time, high-intensity interval training for a race. After all, interval training is mentally as well as physically demanding. There is also the danger of 'peaking too early'.

I started in February with indoor training of up to an hour with VO2-max intervals, two to three times a week with in between very quiet recovery training. That was the plan... But as it is in real life, reality always turns out differently than the plan. In practice, I did one interval training and one race on Zwift a week. Of course, these races are also very intense, but not really structured. It was really not fun because my cycling condition was dramatically bad after not being on the road bike for over 2 months. More on the effect and further course of Team CycloWorld's training schedule and preparation next time.

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