Deliberate Training: Principles of Periodization

Photo: Laura Bergman image of the author ice climbing out of retirement, Cascade Falls, Minnesota, Feb 2018

“Success has to do with deliberate practice. Practice must be focused, determined, and in an environment where there is feedback.” – Malcolm Gladwell

The air is Minnesota cold as Hunter Farrell and I make our way down the canyon covered in four inches of fresh snow. Rounding a river’s bend, we catch a dramatic view of Cascade ice fall, 100 feet of vertical ice plastered to a rock wall. We carefully cross the river on a snow bridge to the base of the ice. On go our climbing harnesses and crampons. Methodically, I clip slings and ice screws to my harness, and uncoil our ropes. Hunter puts me on belay. Taking a deep breath to calm my mind, I set my picks in the ice and begin climbing. It is March 2018, a few days before my 64th birthday and 12 years since I last lead an ice climb: the spectacular 600 foot Ames Ice Hose in Telluride, Colorado.

As a personal trainer, I use periodization training programs to achieve health and fitness goals for my clients. Periodization is based on four principles: individualizing a training plan, progressing that plan over time, adapting physically and mentally to increased workout loads, and utilizing training that is specific to the goal or sport. The concept has been around since the late 1940’s. Today it is a widely used training guide for both amateur and elite world class athletes. Duration of these training programs ranges from four to twelve weeks.

As an athlete, I use periodization training to prepare for competitive and outdoor sports. Over the last three years, I have successfully trained for competitive cycling events, multi-day solo mountain hikes, backcountry skiing trips, ice climbing, and alpine rock climbing. I train not only to achieve my objective, but more importantly, for safety. My primary goal is come home alive and unhurt.

Over the next nine weeks, on a weekly basis, I will share my winter 2019 training program on my website www.crooked-thumb.com. Comments or questions are welcomed at www.steve.crookedthumb.com

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