A training programme should be implemented in a pattern that is most beneficial for adaptations and this is called the training cycle or periodisation (Plowman & Smith, 2011).

Periodisation is a plan for training based on a manipulation of the fitness components and the training principles.

The objective is to peak the athlete’s performance for the competitive season or some part of it.

An individual training for health-related physical fitness can also use periodisation to build in cycles of harder or easier training in order to prevent boredom or to emphasise one fitness component or another.

Training Adaptations

Training brings about physical and physiological changes typically labelled adaptations and training adaptations represent physical and physiological adjustments that promote optimal functioning (Plowman & Smith, 2011).

Also, whereas exercise responses use resting values as the baseline, training adaptations are evaluated against the same condition prior to training.

Training adaptations are evaluated by comparing variables of interest (e.g. heart rate) before and after the training programme during the same condition (at rest, during sub-maximal exercise or at maximal exercise).

Compared with the untrained state, training may cause no change, an increase or a decrease in the measured variable.


As noted in the plateau, retrogression and reversibility training principle (Principle 05), training adaptations are reversible and this is termed detraining (Plowman & Smith, 2011).

  • Detraining is the partial or complete loss of training-induced adaptations as a result of a training reduction or cessation.
  • Detraining may occur due to a lack of compliance with an exercise training programme, injury, illness, or a planned periodisation transition phase.
  • Physiological variations do not reverse at the same rate, just as they do not adapt at the same rate and the magnitude of the reversal depends on:
    • The training status of the individual when the training is decreased or ceased;
    • The degree of reduction in the training (minimal to complete);
    • Which element of training overload is impacted most (frequency, intensity or duration); and
    • How long the training is reduced or suspended.

Currently, sports scientists know less about detraining than training and it is often difficult to distinguish among changes resulting from illness, normal aging, and detraining (Plowman & Smith, 2011).


Plowman, S.A. & Smith, D.L. (2011) Exercise Physiology for Health, Fitness, and Performance. 3rd ed. London: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.


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