In my opinion the “functional fitness craze” has done more for exercise and physical activity than anything in my lifetime. This has resulted in droves of individuals whom were not very fit or healthy becoming much more active. A byproduct of this craze has arisen an epidemic of Overtraining. The drivers behind overtraining are two-fold in my opinion:
- The very natural thought that if a little bit is good then more must certainly be better.
- The extreme lack of coaches with any concept of periodization
You may ask yourself what is Periodization? The rest of this article is an attempt to give a very simple explanation of periodization and why you should be doing it and why your trainer/coach should know what it is. In full disclosure I could not even begin to scratch the surface of all different periodization schemes.
Periodization is the systemic planning of training. This could be training for a football or basketball game, running a 5K, CrossFit, general exercise, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, gymnastics, and much more. Periodization has been around for many decades and many very smart people have developed different periodization schemes for different sport/activities.
There are 3 Stages in Periodization
- Alarm Stage- Initial shock to your system
- Resistance Stage- Adaptation and Progress
- Exhaustion Stage- Failure/Regression
The goal of any good program should be to increase the amount of time in the resistance stage and minimize the time in the exhaustion stage.
How many of you have made so much progress and continues to put in tons of work only to then hit a wall and not been able to improve your:
Squat? Deadlift? Snatch? Pull Ups? 5K Time?
If this sounds familiar to you then you are most likely OVERTRAINING and in the exhaustion stage of periodization. It is not abnormal to see some folks hang out in this exhaustion stage for 3, 6 ,12 months. They often think that the answer is to push harder and train more. The unfortunate reality is that the increased effort and training almost always leads into decreased recovery/performance and increased injury rate. The irony is that often these folks are forced to take time off due to injury and when they return they actually make much more progress because their bodies are able to have a “reset” period.
In the world of group fitness/functional fitness, it is very hard to keep all of our members in the alarm and or resistance stage even with well thought out programming. I encourage every individual to talk to your coaches to learn more about periodization and how to maximize your overall fitness/performance while decreasing your chances of entering the exhaustion stage and becoming stagnant.