How to Time Training Peaks to Be Your Best When It Matters Most

Learn to plan your peaking phase so you are energized and ready to perform to the best of your ability when it matters most.

All your hard work should culminate when you peak for key competitions.

Timing training peaks simply means adjusting your training in anticipation of performing at your highest level when it matters most. Training too hard before a competition can cause fatigue and suboptimal performance. Training too little can cause skills and fitness to deteriorate prematurely. During this phase, you make subtle changes to the training load that allow your body to take advantage of the cumulative effect of training and increase skill development while maintaining necessary fitness levels.

In a typical 12-week season or training cycle, the peaking phase should start three to four weeks before the most important competitions. The shorter the season or training cycle, the shorter the peaking phase. A peaking phase can still include competitions. If your key competition is a state championship, your peaking phase will include the playoffs or sectionals.

Training Peak Timing

In the Weight Room

  • To decease soreness and stiffness, phase out all non-compound movement lifts like Leg Presses and Curls. You shouldn't be doing these anyway.
  • To sharpen coordination and balance, phase in bodyweight exercises. Check out the video player above for a demonstration.
  • Increase the time between lifting sessions. If you are lifting three days per week, cut it to two. Instead of lifting Monday, Wednesday and Friday, lift Monday and Wednesday to take full advantage of this adaptation for weekend competitions.
  • You can still train heavy with compound movements. Keep the intensity high.

On the Track or Field

  • Cut back both density and volume that culminates with 25- to 50-percent reductions.
  • Phase in more intensity and purpose. Practices now are more about quality of reps than quantity.
  • Phase in more restorative and mobility exercises to recover from the increased intensity and purpose.
  • Well-spaced, short, intense practices are sufficient to maintain fitness and allow for additional recovery.

Timing training peaks requires maintaining a delicate balance. If your peaking phase has been carefully planned, you should feel energized and full of anticipation. You will be ready to perform to the best of your ability.

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