Fine Tune Your Workouts, Planning Training Cycles-Yearly

A little bit of planning will take you a long way on your personal fitness training journey. Here's a breakdown of how you might structure your planning.

Planning Your Training

Planning your training cycles can be thought of from a wide to small view. At one level you have your big picture. Overall where you want to go when it's all said and done. On the smaller end of things, you might have a specific goal for the short and long term. How you start breaking all of that down and how specific you get coincide.

This is the first in a 3 part post on planning. You can find part two here. Part three here.

Reaching Your Overall Goal

When you start out training, you typically have a plan. If your plan is to look the best you possibly can, you do things that lined up with that. If you're a golfer, the plan is to become the best golfer player you can in the course of your lifetime. If you play football, soccer, volleyball hockey etc. Your goals will match those of someone with those goals. 

Over the course of your life you will need to spend time working on different qualities required for reaching those goals. It's best to spend time working toward that goal that is right in front of you instead of trying to rush the process. This might mean if you struggle with weight loss, focusing on losing the first 5-10 lbs over the next two months and maintaining that for a month or two instead of trying lose 15-20 lbs in the next 3 months. For an athlete that plays a sport like football, if you play a position that requires you to gain more weight, you'd spend more time initially focusing on building enough muscle to play your sport before you work on learning special sport exercises.

You may not start out knowing exactly what it is you want to do. If this is the case, you'd likely start out in the same place regardless. There are lots of general qualities that you can work on improving before making your program specific for a particular goal. This brings us to the largest block of time in a plan. The annual or quadrennial plan.

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Your Yearly Plan

The yearly plan is very important and comes first because it dictates the content of all of the other cycles hereafter. In some cases, like that of someone planning for the Olympics or a strength coach thinking of an athletes college career, the yearly plan can actually be expanded to a quadrennial plan. Here are a couple examples of applying this concept.

What if your goal is just to look good? Well you might not have any muscle currently. If that's the case, when you get down to your current goal weight you might look how you want, you'll likely be pretty skinny though. If your goal is to appear lean, you'll make to make sure you build some muscle too. These sorts of plans require more time spent on hypertrophy cycles to gain the most muscle possible when gaining weight, lose a little bit of fat and gain a little bit of muscle during times of weight maintenance and to retain muscle when trying to cut weight. You can spend a few months on hypertrophy. Hold your weight steady for a month or two, potentially breaking things up with some strength work and continue the process. Lets apply this to a more specific fitness goal.

The goal of a yearly plan for a first year college football player might mean that you spend the entire year focusing on getting the player ready for the mental and physical requirements needed to transition from high school to college. Players come from all over the country, some have experience in a weight room. There are others who have never worked out outside of football practice. A red shirt year is a great time for this or if the player needs to contribute to the team right away, you see how this already begins to modify your plan.

This could continue to many different circumstances. Whats most important, is that you focus on the biggest need of that situation and that person and tailor your approach to match that. If you're already heavy enough to play your sport or have enough muscle to look good at a lighter weight, you'd spend less time on hypertrophy but you'd still hit that sort of work at some point.

Now that we have an idea of how you might start thinking about what is most important in your yearly plan, be sure to read the follow up posts on monthly and weekly planning!

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