Periodization for Ancillary Training

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 | By Jeff Boelé
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Periodization for Ancillary Training

After doing a webinar on concepts of periodization, I received a great question about periodization for ancillary or auxiliary training (pick your name). I describe ancillary training as anything that supplements and supports your primary activity. I thought it may be valuable to put this in article form as others may have had a similar question.

Below are a few areas of ancillary training and potential ways to use periodization for an endurance athlete. There may be a little jargon here and there, but I’ll try to keep it clear.

Weight or Resistance Training

A potential time frame would be to introduce this during general preparation and continue to the beginning of the competition period. Depending on philosophy, the types of lifting and frequency can vary. For example, during the general period, the lifting may be represented by regenerative protocols. These parameters are designed to work a variety of movements and begin establishing endocrine profiles that will allow for greater recovery in later periods of training. In the specific prep period, lifting may be a mix of the aforementioned regenerative protocols and lifts following a power format (back squats - 4 sets of 8 reps at 50% of max). In the pre-competition period or early in the competition period, lifting may shift back to only the regenerative type.

There are many different philosophies out there and many different theories on lifting. Here is a great resource (Scroll down to the "Weight Training for Power, Speed and Sports Performance DVD). Even though it is geared towards power and speed events, there is a lot of valuable information and certain aspects of this system can be used by endurance athletes.

General Strength

This is really any exercise that is body weight in nature, although medicine ball routines can fall in here. These can be done in any period of the season. They are great early in general prep if a person isn't comfortable with weight training. And they are great in the comp. period to continue some form of whole body strength training. Really the periodization for these is more with the volume of the routines.

I actually wrote a blog for TrainingPeaks a few weeks back on this subject. I know the name of the article is GS for running, but it is applicable to other athletic activities. I also have a comprehensive multi routine general strength plan in the TP store.

Warm up Routines

These fall into a similar category as General Strength. They are great at all points in the season. The easiest and probably most practical way to periodize these, if there is a need, is to adjust the volume of the routine.

Jump Circuits/Plyometrics

Again, kind of the same idea as with general strength and warm up routines. With the additional piece that some jump circuits are more appropriate at different points in the season. Also some jumps may be better suited for athletes with a higher training age. Adjusting the volumes and type of circuit to match the training period is the best strategy for periodization. An example would be:

  • General prep – introduce easier circuits at a lower volume and increase throughout the period.
  • Specific prep – progress to more complex circuits, but stabilize volume Competition period – either eliminate circuits or reduce the volume of easier circuits.

Psychological and Emotional Training

This is an often overlooked component of training and therefore left unattended. Here is a great article that talks about the general concepts of periodizing a mental plan. I know this article seems off topic as it is for throwing events, but the basic principles are very applicable.

Here are a few brief examples that could be applied to periodization of mental and emotional training:

  • General Prep - administer Autogenic training to establish the mind/body connection for athletes.
  • Specific Prep - visualize in 3rd person (like watching a movie).
  • Competition Period - visualize in 1st person (as seen from your perspective as you would see it in the actual race.)


This can be a wide ranging topic, and of all the ancillary topics that I touch on, one that offers the most opinions, as well as the most personal differences. Nutrition can be fickle, so I’ll only touch on this subject briefly as I am not an exercise nutritionist.

One concept to try during the general prep period when training for a long event, say over 2 hours, would be to occasionally limit fuel intake during a long run/ride. What I mean by that is reduce the amount of fuel you would normally ingest during exercise. Don't completely neglect fuel intake, but maybe if the run/ride usually has 4 gels, only take 2 or 3. This can force the body to utilize other available fuel stores, which can be advantageous for training later in the macrocycle and for the actual event. This can also take its toll on the body, so you'll need to plan training accordingly.

This same concept can be applied to hydration. Don't completely neglect fluid intake, but maybe reduce the amount of fluids available from time to time. Again, these aren't common strategies (not to be done every week), but some folks may find them useful. As mentioned, training leading up to and following a day like this will need to be purposeful and planned accordingly.

I hope this helps get you going in a good direction when thinking about planning ancillary tasks around your primary event.

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