Fine Tune Your Workouts, Planning Training Cycles-Monthly

A little bit of planning will take you a long way on your personal fitness training journey. This the second installment of a 3 part series.

Your Monthly Planning

This continues our discussion of breaking down your planning process to get you on your way to being more successful in your fitness goals. For part one of this series, that dictates how the other parts of the plan will be put together, look here. The next step after this looks at the weekly session breakdown here.

The Months Leading up to Your Goal

After you know your overall goal for life or the next year, it's time to break that goal down into monthly form also called Macrocycles. A Macrocycle can vary in length depending on the time you have to work on your goal. The typical Macrocycle last about 4 weeks, though they can range anywhere from 2-7 weeks. If you have a larger amount of time to work on something then you might have a relatively longer cycle. If you're more advanced you might experiment with shorter and longer Macrocycles depending on what works best for you. 

There are a few different ways to classify a Microcycle. Microcycles are the weeks that form Macrocycles. One way is to do this by the current training goal of the area you're trying to improve on such as:

  • Endurance
  • Strength (low-speed strength)
  • Power (high-speed strength)
  • Hypertrophy

There is also another way to think of this, you might look at those goals as "developmental" Microcycles, Bompa and Haff refer to this in Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training which can be found on amazon here

Haff and Bompa classified Microcycles in this way:

  • Developmental Microcycles: specific to the preparatory phases of training
  • Shock Microcycles: A sudden increase in the training demand beyond previous levels.
  • Recovery-Regeneration Microcyles: reduced volume and or load to encourage recovery
  • Peaking and Unloading Microcycles: cycles with the goal of reducing volume and supercompensating to peak performance.

Taking this from the context of our yearly plan. You might be thinking of adding some muscle first so you'd start by looking into spending a few months (Macrocyles) on hypertrophy or developmental Microcycles. During these times you'd spend plenty of time doing the specific things you need to build new muscle lifting higher volumes of moderately heavier weights (6-12 reps). After these phases or simply to break up a really long off-season you might intersperse some strength or shock Microcycles. The strength route would still involve some hypertrophy work at the higher end of the range and around your primary lifts while the shock Microcycles might involve doing more sets of the same exercises you've been doing.

There are different methods you can use to move towards your goals specifically in each session. Follow along with the next post on individual training sessions and microcycles.

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