Episode #33 – Practical Periodisation and Training with Adam Zimmerman

Episode #33 – Practical Periodisation and Training with Adam Zimmerman

Periodisation models are a confusing mess for anyone new the different options. I got Adam Zimmerman from Zimmerman Training on the show to explain his take periodisation and training in the real world. He also introduces a running coach called Jack Daniels that influenced his training and coaching, and discusses some of Jack’s wisdom that you can also benefit from.[buzzsprout episode=’79587′ player=’true’]

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I spent some time digging this week moving beyond Joe Friel and his take on linear periodisation that he brought to the masses through his Training Bible books.

I fought my way through understanding Linear, Block and Reverse Periodisation, and I have a mini-break down of what I found on those methods in the show notes.

But-the show is not about them because I was also introduced to another perspective on training-that of Jack Daniels through his book Daniels’ Running Method.

It’s a straightforward read, with lots of relevant information to bike training even though it is a running book. I would have never come across this book, or ideas within it without the person that introduced it to me.

That person is Adam Zimmerman of Zimmerman Training, a former runner turned cyclist and cycling coach. I got Adam on this week’s show to discuss his take on periodisation and the influence his ex-coach Daniels’ has had on his coaching style.

We talk about:

What’s your approach to periodisation?

Where did this approach come from?

Would you call his approach to periodisation linear or block?

Can you run through how you prepare an athlete’s periodisation for their season?

One simple idea that is in Daniels’ book is the need to answer, “What’s the purpose of this training session?” It’s something that could be overlooked as the season progresses. Is this something that you subscribe too?

How do you get this across to your athletes?

What other types of periodisation are you familiar with?

How do you train cyclists that have 8-12 hours per week to train? What elements do you focus on?

How do you teach your athletes to understand their body?

Does this also carry across to recovery?

How do you monitor your athletes, especially if they’re not face to face?


Linear Periodisation



Block Periodisation

Cycles are structured around training until exhaustion is imminent, resting until completely recovered.

Monitoring this the main challenge. Both for the training and recovery. Rather than set recovery periods, it’s more ‘recovery on demand’. Taking time when your body needs it. When the warning signs of overreaching are there, like not being able to complete workouts.

It focusses on one or two specific energy systems at a time. Builds fitness horizontally by laying a deep foundation of each fitness system.

Harder to maintain on a traditional work schedule.


  • Block 1: Efficiency
  • Block 2: Aerobic Endurance 1
  • Block 3: Aerobic Endurance 2
  • Block 4: Muscular Endurance


  • Block 5: Event Specificity.


  • Block 6: Taper and Peak.
  • Block 7: Competition
  • Block 8: Rejuvenation

Reverse Periodisation

The basic idea is simply that you never stray too far away from high intensity training in the entire yearly macrocycle. It is simply non-linear periodisation.

One overriding principle always remains that cannot be “reversed” in any way, that is progressive overload. eg: Include both VO2max intervals and aerobic base work from day one but just gradually overload both as time passes and fitness improves. 

Ian King describes his approach thus:

“(page 80)…The ‘reverse’ approach is based on maintaining intensity closer to that at the competition demands, recognising that initially the athlete’s capacity to perform this will be low. Then to increase the volume progressively, without sacrificing the intensity. In summary, the goal is for the athlete to learn how to run fast over a distance that they are capable of running fast over, then increasing that distance.

The difference in approaches of these two models is essentially this – the traditional model commences with capacity (volume) and shifts towards power (intensity). The alternative model, as the name suggests, reverses this approach – commences with power and shifts toward capacity.”

Tech, Hacks & Products 

Gerard Vroomen has released a new project. Don’t know who Gerard is? He’s one half of Cervelo. Well, he was until last year. Now amongst other bike related projects like a mountain bike company called Open. You can find out more on his blog or twitter. One thing that strikes me about Vroomen is his blunt and provoking thoughts.

That’s why it’s super exciting to talk about his new project. A free cycling magazine called 2r. It’s only available on the ipad for now, but it’s the business. It’s such a killer move, and pulls together a fantastic cast of characters. High quality stalwarts of the unspoken, unknown and hidden in the world of pro cycling. Such as the Inner Ring and Paul Kimmage.

2r Cycling Magazine
Gerard’s blog


Adam Zimmerman

Jack Daniels

Periodisation Theory

Block Periodisation

Reverse Periodisation


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  • Shari Zimmerman

    Adam is my awesome running coach who brought me from a coach potato to a half marathon. Lucky me, he’s my son also!