Periodize: Perfect Your Short-term Plan

Styrketraening Mikrocyklus USWeek plan, microcycle, example (Aagaard, 2012)

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Top Tip 

First a super workout, then of course recovery. 
A nice mix of work and rest, wouldn’t you agree?
That’s the way to maximize results for all to see
and avoid fatique, overtraining, stress and injury.

In periodization the long-term plan, the macrocycle, and the mesocycles (1-3 month plans) provides the framework for more detailed short-term plans, plans for your weekly training.

A (very) short-term plan is called a microcycle. A microcycle can last from 1-14 days, but a typical fitness microcycle is 1 week, 7 days.

Your plan for the week (can be changed from week to week or repeated for several weeks) is a plan of all training activities; cardiovascular, strength, coordination (balance, agility, etc.) and flexibility training.
A complete plan – as shown in the figure – makes it easier to detect, if your training is planned in the right way with regard to volume and recovery.

FIT-formula
You can use the ‘FIT-formula‘ as a guide for your week plan or program; consider this:

Frequency, number of workouts per week
Intensity, how hard you work at each workout
Time, or duration, how long you train for at each workout

When your weekly training program involves different types of training, it can be somewhat of a puzzle to 1) arrange the workouts in relation to each other, so they do not interact in a negative way and 2) get sufficient recovery, rest.
Also when you have a large volume of training within one training modality, eg. strength training, you need to plan your training week carefully, so you get the right amount of variation and recovery so you get the desired results.

Recovery time
In general you need about 48 hours of rest following moderate intensity strength training (3 x 10 reps at ~75 % of 1RM) and approximately 24 hours of rest after moderate intensity cardiovascular training.

For beginners with a relatively low volume of training (eg. 3-4 times ½-1 hours or less a week), it is fairly easy to make a week plan and training programs, whereas programming for advanced fitness and sports programs with daily workouts can be a challenging task.

Guidelines and variation and motivation
To maintain motivation and keep progressing it is beneficial to change the week program within 4-6 weeks. However, many (novice) exercisers will continue to get results and feel quite happy with the same program for longer periods; this also allows for stable adaptation and improved exercise technique.

Listen to your body and mind and move on, when you feel the need for it.

Advanced, skilled and strong, exercisers may change their programs more frequently for instance every third week, but even a change of program from week to week is possible.

When planning an allround fitness week program, you can look to the American College of Sports Medicine’s, ACSM, basic guidelines for physical exercise:

Cardiovascular training: 3-5 times per week, 60-90 % of heart rate, 20-60 minutes

Strength training:
 2-3 times per week, minimum 1 [-3] sets of 8-12 repetitions, 8-10 exercises for the large muscle groups (equals approx. 30-50 minute workout).
Note: If you do split training, eg. upper and lower body work on alternating days, you can train more times per week.

Flexibility training
: 3 times per week, 1-4 repetitions/stretches lasting 10-30 seconds, stretches for the large [tight] muscles.

Enjoy planning your new improved program.

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