Fitness Season and Periodization

Fitness Season and Periodization

planning opex one

Planning is something that we at OPEX pride ourselves on. It is what creates the pathway to success for anyone to reach there full potential and fitness goals.

Why plan? Without it, you are guessing, not having a true vision as to where the client sits and how you are taking the athlete to the ultimate goal.

There are several different ways to approach training periodization, two of the most prominent:

  1. Traditional: Attempts to develop many abilities simultaneously (which for a beginning athlete can be a great approach as the CNS can handle the amount of training).
  1. Block method: “Its general idea presupposes the use and sequencing of specialized mesocycle-blocks, where highly concentrated training workloads are focused on a minimal number of motor and technical abilities.”

There is no one right answer when it comes to periodization or phasing training…as the method selected is not one size fits all. The beauty of coaching is understanding the principles associated with phasing and knowing the individual characteristics of your client. This ultimately dictates how you should plan and prep them appropriately for the goal.

So how do you plan an entire year?

My recommendation is all coaches should FIRST identify a few critical components:

  1. The goal and aim (the date of the competition to work back from)
  2. The athlete’s function (IE – the sport they chose and its physiological requirements)
  3. Lifestyle (capability to take on the necessary training to compete in the “sport”)
  4. Training age, biological age and experience


As we know the entry into the CrossFit Games is now more difficult with the recent changes to the season.


Many were left asking the question: “What do I do now?”…


Finally the creation of well designed, structured and executed competitions, such as the Granite Games, Wodapalooza, Infitinte Strength Games, OPTathalon and Outside the Box, can now provide clients with a better experience to have a full season of competition and test there fitness through numerous outlets.


The increase in these types of events allows coaches to plan yearly cycles around the comp dates, meaning athletes can have multiple multiple peaks throughout the year (which actually allows a lower overall volume and more rest oddly enough) and a TRUE offseason in order to best prep them for there ultimate goal (whether that be the Granite Games, OPTathlon, Wodapalooza, open, regionals or the Games).


In our CCP program, James teaches phasing and periodization through these principles:

  1. Transformation,
  2. Accumulation
  3. Intensification
  4. Pre-competition
  5. Competition
  6. Recovery


Utilize this approach. It’s simple and give smart guidelines to follow. Visualize what the athlete needs to be successful at each one of the different phases and ultimately what you want to get from the training stimulus (DO NOT GUESS). Have a purpose, prioritize and create progression based upon the testing/comps.


Below is an example of one of our athlete’s planning and phasing programs:


Main goal: Muscle endurance in all movements, slow strength, mechanics in Snatch and Clean.


Client Strengths: Moves well, low training age in the sport, needs engine base support work for a long time


The 2 year plan: CrossFit (CF) build, peak in the Opens, and participate in multiple comps in a year with Granite Games and Wodapalooza


The Phasing Schedule:

March 1 – 21st – OFF, Neera cleanse


March 21- 30th – Training (strict gymnastics into weights), 3 days intensity, prep for testing


Apr 1-17th – Testing


Apr 18 – May 11th – building – accumulation (squat/DL/BP)

– Increase muscle endurance (MAP 7 down to 6 adding volume) through 2x/week

– mixed work – full day of it alone, one other day per week of rowing repeats 500’s

– every AM aer easy work – real easy – RTW, AD, Row alone (not on row day), swim

– use low % oly work, no maxes, up to 77-80% max in anything skill based

– use abs strength work as base support, slow lifts (traditional)

– squat, push upper, pull lower, pull upper, repeat weekly


May 11 – 14th – off – Protein deload


May 14 – June 7th – Intensification work

– incremental mixed map work, still 5-7 MAP

– add grinder aer/alactic work 2x/week

– build to maxes on abs strength work – low % stuff still for oly work

– same AM aer work easy, little add in total volume

– last 2 weeks of intensification phase with some LE sets 2x/week – 2-3 per day for 2-3 min each set


Jun 8-9th – off


Jun 10-15th – Comp or retesting – main ones we see need testing from initial tests to track increases


Jun 16-19th – off, Protein deload


Jun 20-July 20th – Accumulation 2

– add to total work from phase 1

– higher % oly work in CNS work

– add some holds and static work to AM aer sessions, EASY low demand, structural work

– squat, upper pull and bend, upper push 2x/week – base of CNS work

– add oly work and abs strength work to split, pull from floor, OHS and stability in OH movement


July 21-24th – off – deload


July 25-Aug 25th – Intensification 2

– lower MAP sessions – 5 down to 2 in phase

– max Sn and CJ once per week each, squat tough 2x/week, max Bench 1x/week and – Press max every other week

– last 2 weeks are CF style scenarios – lowered CNS work and mainly CF style testing like regional format, except with open style wods to see where they sit on goal continuum


Aug 25-30th – off


Aug 31 – Sep 21st – Accumulation 3

– 4 weeks progressive up

– Similar to phase 1 but increase (1.5 x) the total work pretty much, added min to AM sessions keeping the aer work alone, adding some adv gymn  in skill in AM non fatigued skill work to allow adaptation


Mid Sept – Intensification last week into Granite Games


Sep 22-25th – off – Protein deload


Sep 26 – Oct 25th – Accumulation 4

– Increase from work 1.5x from accumulation 3 – 4 weeks up, 1 week deloading last week, no training


Oct 28 – Nov 21st – Intensification 3

– lower MAP sessions – 5 down to 2 in phase

– max Sn and CJ once per week each, squat tough 2x/week, max Bench 1x/week and – Press max every other week

– last 2 weeks are CF style scenarios – lowered CNS work and mainly CF style testing like regional format, except with open style wods to see where they sit on goal continuum


Nov 22 – Nov 26th – Protein deload, off EASY no training


Nov 27 – Jan 15th – SPP – Sports specific prep

– MAP 4/5

– Low volume, intensity based CP training

– Low volume, intensity based Cl/Sn training

– Less “Mechanical training”

– 3-4 weeks, CF style scenarios

– 1 week back end LE x 3 pieces tough


Mid Jan – Woodapalooza


Jan 16 – Jan 19th – off, Protein deload, no training


Jan 19 – March 1st – CF Open prep

– Progressive pacing increase

– LP to LE

– CNS work to create confidence

– Low CP, intensity to not tire

– Sn/Cl building in the actual movement, low structural pieces

– CF x 2 workouts per week, allow adaptation to advanced skills

– LOW and easy row/AD MAP work

– Progressive build into intensity, drop volume w/ 2x hits week prior to start of open


So now the big question:


Are YOU planning or guessing?


Share your thoughts on training progression, phasing, successes, mistakes learned the hard way, and questions.


Post comments below.


mike lee

Coach Mike Lee

Fitness Assessments for New Clients