HOW TO PLAN A TRAINING BLOCK OR PERIOD

In this post, I’ll cover how to combine a series of training weeks into a block or period of training and why you’d want to do so.

The aim of this post is to help you to manage your own training better and to avoid being unsure or lost when it comes to planning your training weeks and months down the line.

You can check out the video here and find the written post below.

WHAT’S THE PURPOSE OF BLOCKS?

Well, blocks work by providing a step-wise increase in training stress, which is then followed by an adequate amount of recovery for adaption to that training stress.

Blocks are usually limited to 3 to 5 weeks in length, and are often organised in a pattern of 2-4 training or “on” weeks and then 1 recovery week to adapt to this stress.

With each subsequent training week, the training stress is increased to improve fitness, and then reduced in the final week of the block for recovery.

TRAINING LOAD INCREASES

Well, how much you increase the stress of each training week in a block will depend on a few things, like the phase of training that you’re in and both your short and long-term training history

As a broad rule, you’ll want to keep increases in training stress to around 5-10% from one week to the next.

This will help ensure that the rise in stress is never too severe to cause non-functional overreaching or overtraining, where an overuse injury or chronic fatigue could be a real threat.

The final week of the block, which is usually reserved for a recovery week, will typically have a reduced training load of about 50-60% from the largest week in that block.

So for example, if you trained for 12 hours per week in the first week, 13.5 hours in the second week and just over 15 hours in the third week, you’d be looking at a recovery week of between 8 and 9 hours, which is roughly about 60% of the 15 hour week.

THE BENEFIT OF TSS

It’s important to note that measuring training load by TSS or Training Stress Score is one of the best ways to keep track of your fitness and fatigue, more so that hours.

TSS takes into account intensity and workout frequency changes, which can affect the athlete far more significantly than just an increase in hours.

It’s therefore TSS that should see the 5-10% increase week to week and a 50-60% reduction in recovery weeks, rather than just hours or certainly mileage.

So, a better example might be that if your TSS was 500 in week 1, 580 in week 2 and 620 in week 3, a recovery week totalling about 300-350 TSS would be ideal.

How many weeks you use in your training blocks can change throughout the season, but don’t necessarily need to if you find a quantity that works particularly well for you.

The exception to this is usually when scheduling a peak block or taper period, which will often be treated as a standalone period of around 2 weeks.

PERIODISATION

Now many of you may know that structuring your overall training plan with these different blocks is what we refer to as “periodisation”.

Periodisation is a concept that hinges on the premise that each block will be different to the next and will be ordered in a logical way so as to increase fitness towards a particular date, usually a race, a cycling holiday, a big club ride or other such event.

This means that for each block of training you build, you’ll need to be able to identify a clear purpose for it. By doing so, you’ll know exactly how each block fits into the wider training plan.

Each block should have one or two clear goals, which will usually be related to particular areas of your fitness.

So for example, one block might strive to improve your aerobic endurance, another your threshold and another your anaerobic capacity.

Each workout in each constituent training week that makes up a block will then be arranged in a way to try and achieve the block’s goals.

So that’s how to structure your training with blocks and why it’s beneficial to do so. Please let me know of any questions you have in the comments section below this post!