How Important is to have a Annual Training Plan

ATP - Annual Training Plan

ATP – Annual Training Plan



Without goals there will be no direction to your training. Without a plan there is no pathway to achieving those goals.

ATP or Annual Training Plan is the “Blue Print” of the athlete season. An annual training plan solves both of these issues by providing the structure around which individualized training sessions can be set to allow you to reach optimal performance at your target events and achieve your goals. This blog first looks at the process of creating an annual training plan and the benefits it will bring.

Annual Training Plan


There are several steps in creating a successful annual plan.

1. Set Major Goals – Up to 3 major goals should be set that will be the focus of the season. The major goals are typically result based, but should always be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Limited.

2. Analyse the Demands of the Goal Events – The power, skill, tactical and nutritional demands of the target event should be analysed in order to define the level of performance required to achieve your desired result. Analysing the power demands of a road race will be the subject of a future blog.

3. Determine Your Limiters – Your limiters are your weaknesses that are preventing your from achieving your major goals tomorrow. They are determined by comparing the demands of your goal event against what you are currently capable of.

4. Determine Your Training Objectives – Your training objectives are SMART, intermediate goals to overcome the limiters above. They are scheduled in the run up to your major goals, providing motivation and a confidence boost once achieved.

5. Prioritise Races – A race calendar should be compiled listing all the events you are planning to compete in. The major goal events are by definition A races (up to 3) before which there is a significant taper for maximum performance. Up to 8 B priority races are chosen for which there is a short taper of a few days. All remaining races are C priority, for which there is no taper.

6. Periodise the Plan – With the major goals defined, the year can be broken down into macrocyles or periods such as Base and Build, before breaking it down further into mesocyles of 3-6 weeks and then to microcyles of 7-10 days. This provides the framework for individual sessions to be set.

ATP - Annual Training Plan


An annual plan created as described above will provide structure and direction in your training, as well as the following key benefits.

Adequate Recovery – Training sessions only provide the stimulus for increased fitness. It is during the recovery period after a session or training block that the body overcompensates and increase fitness levels are realised. A perodised annual training plan has a recovery week built in at the end of every 3-6 week mesocycle to allow adaptations to take place and fitness to increase. It also provides the structure for recovery to be scheduled within microcycles. As a result the risk of non-functional overreaching or overtraining, where continued hard training results in a decrease in fitness, is greatly reduced.

Periodisation – The annual training plan provides the structure for the preferred periodization model to be implemented. Traditional linear perodisation is a proven model where the focus shifts from general training in the Base period to event specific in the Build period. There is not necessarily a lack of intensity during the Base period using this model, but the focus is on the basic training abilities of aerobic endurance, muscular force and speed skills, before moving to advanced abilities in the Build period. Other potential periodisation models include undulating and block periodisation.

Motivation and Purpose – With your major goals and training objectives written down and an annual plan built around them, there will be purpose in all of the training that you do. The training objectives also provide extra motivation in the run up to the major goals.

Optimal Performance – By sticking to and trusting a well designed annual plan you will put yourself in the best possible position of achieving your optimal performance and succeeding in your major goals. You will not reach your potential by training haphazardly without a clear plan.

By outlining the process of creating an annual plan and the benefits brings, the importance of setting goals and writing a plan for your season should be clear. Athletes with Bodyfeed Triathlon Coaching receive an individualized, periodized plan that is built around their goals, limiters and race calendar as part of the coaching setup, to put in them in the best possible position to achieve their goals.