Why resistance training programmes should be broken down into performance cycles

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A resistance training programme should always be broken down into performance cycles that are separated into long- to short-term blocks. Breaking a programme down into cycles is helpful for prioritising your training goals and requirements.

The performance cycles can vary greatly in the amount of time that they span. They are designed in order to apply more focus on certain goals and requirement while placing less attention on others based on established priorities.

What are macrocycles in resistance training?

Macrocycles are long-term performance cycles that may take several months to a year and help to set the priorities and timelines to attain training goals or address specific needs. It is a requirement that macrocycles are broken down into more manageable segments which are termed mesocycles.

What would a mesocycle enable?

Mesocycles would enable an individual to better track their progress, reconsider their goals, design brand-new routines as well as make any needed adjustments (to training, diet, sleep or rest) in order to stay within the timelines of the macrocycle.

Mesocycles can differ widely in length, usually ranging from between three and 12 weeks. A normal six to eight-week mesocycle works well for most people. This enough time to experience significant and measurable results yet not become bored with the recent routines.

This timeframe is also short enough to permit a person to identify as well as correct controllable problems. In addition, this period of time allows for the adjusting of uncontrollable variables that may have surfaced before they can retard further progress. People should reassess and gather as much relevant data as possible between mesocycles in order to assist with designing the new routines appropriately for continued success.

Performance programme phases

The mesocycles are planned in order to focus on certain training priorities however other goals should not be entirely ignored in the process. Competitive athletes usually need to focus on specific training phases such as:

  • Strength,
  • Endurance, and
  • Speed.

However, most benefit from improvements in a number  – if not all – of these areas. If an individual spends six to eight weeks in a mesocycle, only striving for strength, that individual may lose endurance or mobility if training for these aspects is not also reinforced to some degree. Balancing priorities within a mesocycle is just what training phases are intended to do.

Many investigations have shown that it is ineffective to attempt to improve on every bio-motor ability simultaneously during each training routine because there is not enough time in a training session to apply that and adapt to that much diverse muscle stimulus. Therefore, a mesocycle can be split up into training phases, which last between one and three weeks, which focus primarily just a number of neuro-metabolic adaptations. These reduced time periods allow for progress in one aspect without incurring losses in others.

However, training phases must be planned properly throughout the mesocycle in order to ensure that all priorities are addressed. For example, an eight-week mesocycle, focusing primarily on strength, could include a one-week phase of endurance training and a one- or two-week phase of endurance training and a one- or two-week phase of hypertrophy work in order to preserve the conditioning goals as well as body composition that the person may also desire.

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