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Training Tip Tuesday: Matveyev’s Model of Periodization

Long time no post! Lately my blogging has been slacking but I have had a few reasons for this.

First, I am struggling to find things to write about some days. I’m not going to post for the sake of posting. Along with that, there are some days when I just don’t feel like posting or I am busy. Finally, I have been having some issues with my blogging software not wanting to post scheduled posts on time (or never, as was the case of Sunday’s post which will now go up tomorrow). Anyway, on to this week’s Training Tip Tuesday!


Last week I discussed the concept of adaptation and very briefly mentioned Matveyev’s Model of Periodization. I only skimmed the surface of the model in how it relates to adaptation and I promised that I would discuss it more this week.

As a refresher, Matveyev’s Model of Periodization is a representation of the variation of intensity and volume over a training cycle and how the body responds to the training load. (For the sake of this post, I am going to keep attempt to explain this concept in the most simplistic way and not get bogged down in a lot of vocabulary.)

There are three important terms to be familiar with when formulating a plan: a macrocycle, mesocycle, and microcycle. A macrocycle is the longest, usually encompassing the an entire year. A mesocycle lasts from several weeks to several months and a microcycle, the shortest, lasts only a few weeks.

For periodization to be successful, the athlete (or coach prescribing the plan) must shift from high volume and low intensity to low volume and high intensity over a set period of time in order to not only prevent overtraining, but also to ensure maximum performance is achieved at an “A” race or training goal.

During a typical cycle of training using Matveyev’s Model, there are three different periods (or mesocycles): the preparatory, transition, and competition. (There can also be another transition period after competition such as a rest and recovery time).

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Preparatory Stage:

For simplicity’s sake, I will not go into complete detail about the different subunits of the preparatory stage, but if you want to find out more, check out this slide show.

The preparatory stage is normally the longest mesocycle in a macrocycle, lasting a few months. During this time, the athlete is focusing on increasing volume but not intensity. The preparatory stage follows a transition period of rest and recovery so technique is also going to be low.

A good example would be an athlete preparing to run a marathon. Before entering the “bulk” of training, an athlete must increase and maintain a solid mileage base for several months so the body adapts to the training load.

Following the preparatory stage, there is a brief transition stage.

Transition Stage:

During training, this stage is the “switch” between high volume training to high intensity. Volume decreases and intensity begins to increase. Training technique is also increasing, but not nearing peak performance. This may be the time when an athlete training for an “A” race may begin to add in speed work or interval sessions into their training.

Depending on the length of the training plan, the transition stage can last a few weeks or even a month.

Following the transition stage, comes the competition stage.

Competition Stage:

The length of the competition stage varies GREATLY depending on what sport you are involved. For track and field athletes, it can last 2-3 weeks (during district, regional, and state competitions). For runners, it may be even shorter; for team sports (such as volleyball or basketball), it may last a few months.

It is during this stage that volume decreases and intensity is at an all time high. When technique overshoots both intensity and volume, the athlete will “peak” by hitting a new personal record or distance. In athletes training for an “A” race, this competition stage can sometimes be thought of as the taper.

Following the competition stage, comes another transition, or rest and recovery stage.

Transition 2/ Rest and Recovery Stage:

This is the period immediately following that “A” race or event. It is a time for the athlete to rest and recover, not only physically, but mentally, from training. This stage can last anywhere from a week to a month, and even in some cases, longer.

While this stage can include a complete stop to exercise all together, it is usually marked by a period of very low intensity and volume.

Following the rest and recovery stage comes the preparatory stage and the cycle repeats.

In order for the periodization model to be successful, there must be a linear progression throughout the training cycle. This means varying your training sessions from day to day and being aware of what you are doing during the specific stage you are at. Doing too much too soon can lead to burnout or injury, quickly ending a training plan and derailing any immediate performance goals.

One final point to mention is that while Matveyev’s Model usually encompasses an entire year, it can be broken up further depending on the sport and goals of the athlete. For an endurance runner or triathlete, they may have multiple “A” races in a given year whereas for a track and field athlete, they may have only one “A” meet (such as a national or international competition).

I know that in 2013, I have two “A” races I am planning on training for: one in January and the other in late Summer/ early Fall. Therefore, my model will be set up on a bi-yearly schedule with a competition stage in early January and the other 6-7 months later. This works because there is plenty of time to train, peak, recover from the first race and then do the entire cycle again for the second race.

So, to wrap this post up, Matveyev’s Model of Periodization is a great way to set up an effective training plan, ensuring successful training which hopefully leads to great results come competition day. I hope this tip helped and if you have any other topics you would like for me to discuss, leave me a comment below!

How do you set up your training plans? Do you use a periodization plan? Do you use a different philosophy? Or do you just wing it?

Disclaimer: While I am USATF Certified Track Coach, I am not a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) or Certified Running Coach. As always, for specific exercise counseling, see your doctor, a CPT, or certified coach.

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2 Responses to Training Tip Tuesday: Matveyev’s Model of Periodization

  1. I have my first post-op competition in November. It will be raw powerlifting comp.

    I do a periodized workout similar in concept to the one you described for a endurance competition. Interesting!!

  2. I use periodization, but definitely not with the precision that some people may. I’m actually reading a lot by McMillan right now, in preparation for marathon training and will be basing my training off of his research and wisdom. Fingers crossed for success!

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