You've been asking for its return... for three years. Merry (early) Christmas.
Professional athletes are doing it, so why shouldn’t you be? You don’t have to be preparing for a big event or competition to adopt this scientific approach to training. Here’s our beginners guide for starting macrocycle training.
What is macrocycle training?
Rather than planning each individual training session the night before, macrocycle training looks at the bigger picture and allows you to consider long-term goals and how your training programme is going to adapt to help you reach them. It is basically a long-term plan of action.
Macrocycle training splits into 3 different phases.
Your training is therefore split into different phases, each with a different focus that allows you to keep progress.
Macrocycles are the longest phase and will cover the whole programme along with your ultimate goal. You could be training for a marathon, a competition or just a special event.
The Mesocycles are blocks of training that are specifically tailored towards your goals. Your focus will typically change every 3-4 weeks to ensure that you continue to challenge your body and to prevent you from hitting a plateau.
Finally, it’s the baby of the group. The Microcycles are the shortest training block and can be anything from an individual training session to a weeks worth. These cycles, when put together, then make up the mesocycle. Usually, between 3-4 microcycles make up a mesocycle.
How can it work for you?
Here’s an example of how you can make this principle work for you.
The Macrocycle. Total: 12 weeks. Goal: Strength
The Mesocycle: 3 mesocycles moving from endurance training to hypertrophy, to strength.
The Microcycle: 1-week microcycles. 4 microcycles making up a mesocycle.
Week 1 – 4: Your goal for the first 4 weeks would be to build up muscular endurance. For the first 4 weeks, you might train 4 times a week doing between 12-15 repetitions of each exercise for 4 sets with 60-120 second breaks in between each set.
Week 4 – 8: Now it’s time to switch it up. Your muscles have built up endurance, so it is now time for the hypertrophy stage. You should be increasing the weight you are using now and might aim for between 5-8 repetitions with about 2 minutes rest in between sets.
Week 8 – 12: The final stage will change your focus again. Now you have gone through the hypertrophy stage, it is time to move on to strength training. You guessed it, this means even more weight for fewer repetitions with a longer rest period. Aim for between 3-5 reps and take about 3 minutes rest in between each set to give yourself time to recover.
Now what? After your 12 weeks, it is a good idea to mix up your training for a week and do something entirely different. This will shock your body, give you time to recover and mean that when you come back to macrocycle training, your body is refreshed and ready to go.
Macrocycle training is a great way to avoid hitting a plateau with your training and to keep shocking your body into adapting – definitely not something only athletes can benefit from! What are your current workout goals? Let us know in the comment below.