Training Cycles 101


Good afternoon, future champions!  I hope you’re enjoying my posts as we transition from general training concepts to the nitty-gritty.

Today we are going to dig a little more into one of my 11 Rules for Competitive Success: Train With Purpose.  The first part of training with purpose is having a plan laid out for the year.  An effective method of planning for a year’s worth of training is breaking them down into 3 specific cycles.  The 3 cycles are the Macrocycle, the Mesocycles, and the Microcycles.

The Macrocycle typically encompasses the entire year.  At this level we lay out the goals for the year and areas that need work.  Within a macrocycle there are 3 primary phases; the Conditioning Phase, the Competition Phase, and the Recovery Phase.  The phases will be broken down into Mesocycles, typically divided into months (sometimes weeks) which can further be broken down into Microcycles denoting individual weeks, days, or even workouts.   My explanation is a little scattered so let’s create a little chart to help us visualize all this…

Cycles chart 2

 “Wow…” you’re saying. “That’s…still totally confusing.”

Hush!  We’re not done yet.  Save your questions until the end of the lecture.

Conditioning phase

In the Conditioning Phase your main focus is on improving your physical attributes and addressing any weak links:

  • Speed/Agility
  • Strength/Size
  • Power
  • Endurance
  • Flexibility

Little time should be given to technical training; just enough to prevent any significant decrease in your capabilities.  Your main goals are to get harder, better, faster, stronger (cue Daft Punk).

Competition phase

The next phase you’ll transition into is the Competition Phase.  As you reach this phase, your conditioning training will taper off and most of your training time will revolve around:

  • Techniques
  • Drills
  • Sparring
  • Tactics/Strategy.

You will still need to devote some time for conditioning, but just enough to keep your gains from the Conditioning Phase.

*Note that the Conditioning – Competition transition is not a sharp cut off, but rather a smooth flow of one into the other. 

Your tournaments that you plan to participate in will fall in the Competition Phase (who woulda thought, huh?).  You want the Competition Phase to end right after your primary tournament for the season.

Recovery Phase

After you’ve completed the big tournament for the season, it’s time to enter the Recovery Phase.  This is your summer break.  During the Recovery Phase you will need to:

  • Physically and mentally recuperate
  • Address any nagging injuries
  • Analyze your performance at competitions
  • Prepare the training schedule for next year based on the results of your analysis

So pretty simple, yes?  No…not really.  Planning for an entire year’s worth of training is complicated and will require continuous monitoring, tracking, and adjusting from you and your coach.  This layout is fairly flexible and the example above is just to give you an idea of how a basic cycle may flow.  Novice competitors will require a longer conditioning phase while seasoned fighters might quickly transition to the technical aspect of training with minimal conditioning.  Adjust the length of phases to your specific needs and track your progress to make sure everything is going according to plan.  You Type A, OCD people will excel here.  After a few years of doing this, it will become much easier as you begin to recognize when it’s time to transition from phase to phase and what weak areas need to be addressed.

Until next time.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s