How Periodization Helped Me Reduce my Fit Age

Do you do the same exercise rountine day in and day out?  I was once guilty of this, until I learned how to periodized my training and I believe it’s helped me reach my fit age, 25 years younger than my biological age!

It  refers to cycling various aspects of training during a specific period, and the aim is :

1. to peak for your most competitve events

2. to avoid injury from too much training.

3. to make measurable progress.

Because  I have few events that I train for, I periodize my training  primarily for the last two points . Let me step back and review how I developed my present fitness… Twenty-five years ago, before the birth of my children, I ran daily. It was monotonous, the same distance and same pace e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y.  By the time I  turned 35 years old, (and in-spite of being slender),  I  was beginning to notice fat where I once had muscle.  Like most women, I complained to my husband *sigh*. He clamly explained I was experiencing age related muscle loss or sarcopenia, and he reassured me it was reversible! That was music to my ears!  The  solution, he promised, was strenth training.  I immediately started lifting; my routine was  light weights and 100’s of reps. Sadly,  I was spending long hours in the gym, until my knight in shining armor once again saved me from myself : ( .  He taught me the basics of  periodized, high volume resistance training (volume=total amount of weight lifted per session).  I began to learn a variety of different exercises using weights that  fatigued my muscles faster (with only 5-6 reps and 5 sets).  I  also use  nutrition to maximize my strength gains which   includes eating  regular meals containing 20 to 30 gram of protein about every 4 hours. My muscle tone is now better than it was when I was in my twenties. I have gradually progressed to using less machines and more free weights and body weight exercises such as chin ups, pull ups and dips. ( As I have increased my strength, I have thought about more powerlifting, but feel I need to work on technique before going there.)

Periodization generally  looks at a big picture: the whole year. However,  I focus on a shorter period, a mesocylce,  where I try to exercise a baseline with interment intensity of training  and distances somewhat dependent on my work/life schedule demands for that particular week or month. There are times when I’m not working out my hardest,  but  keeping a  baseline of activity gives me a break and allows me  to gear up for more challenging activities when they arise.  Right now my baseline training  looks like this:  2- 4 mile run daily, 2 days/week weight training, and trying  to incorporate  a new activity (yoga) several times a week to increase my  flexibility  and enhance my  core strength. My goal is to eventually be  able to pick up the pace and caliber of  increased demands and   higher volume goals (powerlifting?) and also take on new challenges that may comeup unexpectedly.

Periodization has helped me reach my fitness goals  and it keeps me energized. I believe  it has also  helped me reduce my fit age by allowing me to be consistent with activity by  allowing for adequate rest necessary to avoid injury and  keep me from burning out.  I like the flexibiltiy it offers so I can take advantage of runs that are purely for fun and enjoyment. Here’s a snippet of one of those spontaneous runs that occured Sunday when we experienced a rare March snow on the coast of North Carolina. Enjoy!



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