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Getting Started Part 3- Long-Term Planning

You’ve figured out your purpose for training and set a few short and long-term goals for yourself, so what’s next? It’s time to create a long-term plan. Your long-term plan could only be a few months in preparation for the upcoming fall sport season, or in the case of an Olympian, a Quadrennial (4-Year) plan. In this article we’ll discuss the how-to of annual (1-Year) planning.

When annual planning it is important to plan backwards. Think about what physical attributes need to be optimized and the key dates for those events. For most sports, optimal performance is needed at the conclusion of a sport season when all your athleticism needs to be put on display in a playoff or championship event. If you have some goals for yourself we can work backwards through the annual plan to progressively sequence the training required to land you in your peak physical fitness. Let’s take a look at a hypothetical annual plan for an Olympic bobsledder.


In the above example, this bobsledder’s competition season began in early November when team selection races began and concluded in late February with World Championships. These two critical points in the year are given top priority and signify when our athlete needs to be in peak physical fitness. If we look below to the highlighted cells within the lifting and running emphasis category we can see that during these times of the year our athlete’s training emphasized power and speed, their most needed physical characteristics. Working backwards from the February world championship competition, we will discuss the need for the sequential planning of physical characteristics that culminates with peak physical fitness when it is needed most.

To allow our athlete to reach their peak power and speed in late February, the preceding months of January, December, and November were spent continuing to improve our weight room strength and high-force power, and acceleration on the track. Emphasizing the development of these characteristics in training produced a great physical foundation to safely and efficiently segue into maximal speed and power training in February. Although these characteristics were predecessors to the maximal speed and power training, they are still conducive to strong performances from our athlete in the mid-season. A similar pattern of sequential planning occurred prior to our first physical peak in early November. However, having more training weeks available prior to the first physical peak, we sequentially planned many more preparatory characteristics in the early off-season including work including tempo and special endurance runs, and work capacity and hypertrophic lifting.

To sum up the meat and potatoes of long-term planning, first mark out the dates where your peak physical fitness is needed. Train the most important physical characteristics to your success in the 4-12 weeks prior to those dates. Work backwards from that point to appropriately sequence preparatory training that builds the best foundation to maximize your most important physical characteristics.

Next up in the Getting Started Series: Monthly Planning

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