Fine Tune Your Workouts, Planning Training Cycles-Weekly

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

Planning Your Week of Workouts

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. For part two that breaks down your big goal into more manageable chunks, check this out.

Weekly Planning

A Microcyle is the smallest grouping of multiple training sessions and can vary from 3-7 days in length. The training cycle typically follows a weekly (7 day) time frame. A few Microcyles grouped together is typically what you'll see in a 21 day challenge and I've touched on what you can get done in that amount of time in an earlier post here.

There are several ways to classify a Microcycle depending on what phase of training you're in and your experience but, for simplicity we'll think of this based on the number of training sessions. Realize that when we say training sessions, we might not just be talking about strength training sessions. You may do your cardio in an AM session at a lower intensity and follow this up with heavy strength training in a PM session.

Most commonly we're concerned with these kinds of Microcycles:

  • Two training sessions per week
  • Three training sessions per week
  • Four training sessions per week
  • Five training sessions per week
  • Six training sessions per week

There can be many variants after this when you consider that some people do strength train twice in a day. For example you may really like the benefits of full body training but, you may prefer to keep your workouts shorter in length. In this case you could end up with "six training sessions" but, approach that as an upper body session in the morning and a lower body session in the evening.

When you realize this, you see how training can get as complicated as:

  • Seven training sessions per week:
  • Nine training sessions per week
  • Eleven training sessions per week...

These sessions could not all be intense full out training, you'd likely exceed your ability to recover but, in some sports and situations where you can plan your life around training, this is a reality.

You should strive to keep your weekly planning as simple as possible. There are a few things you will want to make sure you follow such as training each muscle group with a frequency of at least twice per week and not taking more than three days rest between sessions. For some references on frequency and muscular growth I mention some of this in a recent post here on why you need to build muscle and how many sets, reps and how much rest you need. 

You're ready

Let's create an organized plan that holistically achieves your goals.

When you break down your training goal you work from the big picture, thinking about what you want to accomplish overall and how your ideal body might look and you break that down. The months you spend working on your overall goal might be spent on different things depending on what you have going on in your life. Maybe you want to add some muscle but also want to be lean in the next few months because you're going to be on the beach. In that case would you want to be in the middle of a weigh gaining phase? Probably not. 

The biggest takeaway you should gain from all of this is that working out consists of setting a plan and sticking to it with some flexibility. There can be months where you seem like you don't make any progress and there can also be months where your gains seem to be coming from each direction. Your plan should be a flexible one that allows you to look at the overall plan and say this is where you want to go but you should not try to map out every single detail at the onset. I like to think of training in months because you can always have the idea of where you want to go in the next year in your head but the specific ways of how I'm going to get there may change month by month.

I hope you enjoyed reading this! 

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