As we have discussed previously the body 'cycles' and so does our program!  The duration of a microcycle is usually one week.  Outside the training day itself, it is the smallest building block for programming.

A microcycle is embedded within a phase of training and within a mesocycle.  The shape a microcycle takes is dependent on the phase and the mesocycle, but also the stage of development of the athlete and their life outside the gym.  There are three structural components of the microcycle that need to be considered. 

  • The first structural component is the number of training days a week.

  • The second structural component is the targeted adaptation for each training session.

  • The third structural component is the variation of intensity and volume.

An example of a typical three training day week 1 of a prep phase for weightlifting is below.  This type of microcycle has plenty of rest days in-between sessions and is a great place to start new athletes.  The Monday and Wednesday are devoted to more skill acquisition of the snatch, clean and jerk. The Friday is designed to give the athletes a chance to practice the skill acquisition from earlier in the week with the full competition lifts.

For athletes training 5 days a week, some of the training days need to be lighter to allow for recovery.  This causes greater variation of the volume and intensity of training days.  It also allows for more movements to be trained throughout the week.  An athlete training this number of days needs to have a good recovery strategy outside the gym.  Below is an example of a typical week 2 microcycle in a prep phase.

The first two days operate as a shock to the athlete with the higher volume and moderate intensities.  The third day is a light day where the athlete can work on the movements, but it will not contribute significantly to the fatigue level.  By Saturday the athlete should be recovered enough to get some adaptation from the earlier part of the week.  They are working on the full competition snatch at higher intensities.  The volume is low which should keep the fatigue from interfering with the higher intensity clean and jerk on Sunday.

It is important to remember that the microcycle will see a lot of diversity in approaches and will see great variations in load based on the stage of the athlete and the desired outcome for that week as it fits in the larger program.  

Next week we will wrap up the discussion and hit on some key points from our whole discussion on programming! 

Kurt Roderick, CSCS, USAW-ASPC L2, CF-L3, AOLC