What is Cycle Training?

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In a continual effort to get more out of various training styles and programs we are covering a lot of the basics. This time around we are getting into what is cycle training? Just to be clear, we are not talking about training on bicycles. That is a whole other type of article. But the word cycle is being used as it is defined to mean, ‘a series of events that are regularly repeated in the same order’.

Cycle Training Basics

People use training cycles as a way to improve performance, strength, and endurance. what is cycle trainingCycles have been used for years by competitive athletes who have schedules for training that coincide with events and/or sporting seasons. For example, football players train a specific way in the offseason which is different than the training they use during a season.

The concept behind this style of training is to train the body with levels of intensity, weight, and rep ranges over a period of time. A cycle might include 4 different 12-week training programs in it, which when you include rest periods can cover an entire year of training. Other cycles can be much smaller using as little as 2 to 3 programs that last only 4 weeks each. There are numerous ways to set up a cycle depending on your goals.

The ultimate goal is to reach a higher level of peak performance at the end of the cycle than you had before. But you need to complete the entire cycle to reach this goal because it is a very systematic approach to training that builds up slowly over the entire cycle.

Standard Cycles

Many people who train for athletic events such as marathons or similar events follow a simple 4 phase cycle. The phases used can be called offseason, training, event, and rest to help understand what you do during each phase of the cycle.

Offseason training is different depending on goals but that is where you general aim to increase overall strength and power. The training phase gets very specific into focusing on the specific goal or peak level of performance you are trying to achieve. A runner might slowly increase distance ran from 8 miles to 12 miles over the course of the phase. The event is the actual event or events you are peaking for which can involve last minute adjustments, rest, and diet changes to properly load the body up for a specific all-out effort. Then the rest phase is one where you allow your body to recuperate while maintaining a very minimal level of exercise for preservation.

Example Cycle

Here is a weightlifting type of cycle training. The goal is to increase strength over the period of training. It is done by methodically increasing weights along with set and repetition combinations.

Phase 1

  • 5 Weeks – Sets 5 – Reps 10 to 20 – Weight 55-65% max – Rest 1 to 2 minutes between sets

Phase 2

  • 4 Weeks – Sets 4 – Reps 6 to 8 – Weight 70-80% max – Rest 2 to 3 minutes between sets

Phase 3

  • 3 Weeks – Sets 3 – Reps 4 to 6 – Weight 80-90% max – Rest 4 to 5 minutes between sets

Phase 4

  • 2 Weeks – Sets 2 – Reps 3 – Weight 90-100% max – Rest 5 to 7 minutes between sets

Methodically you let the body get used to lifting a specific amount of weight over a period of time then you slowly increase the weight while dropping reps. The end goal is that by the ending of the cycle you should be able to lift 5% more weight than when you started the cycle training.

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