How to plan your workouts!

Training Periodization and The Mesocycle

For any of those wishing to travel into the world of fitness and not be like those sitting for 20 or 30 minutes on the bench press at the gym mindlessly wondering what to do next.  

You must program!

I have had many clients come to me and on their intro days and we discussed their previous training experiences. The majority come to me with the same answers. “I go in do a little bit of cardio do about 20 minutes of weight training mostly arms and stuff and finish with abs and a shower”. This is a token case of a severe lack of programming and the result will always be wasted time and wasted effort. My job above all else is to motivate and give my clients a system to follow that is designed with their goals in mind. One way I do that is by designing macro, meso and micro cycles within their training. Today I would like to discuss what lies in between  the big picture and the short-term! The mesocycle of a weight training program!

The first step to programming is realizing what you want to achieve. Are you looking more for strength at the utmost, power, fat loss, hypertrophy, or endurance? Let us say you have the goals of most 20 through 40-year-old men. Just looking to get as big as possible and be able to strut his stuff on the beach whenever he likes. You’ll be looking for more of a hypertrophy style program depending on your current amount of fat on the body. The first big difference between a hypertrophy program and say a strength program you will notice a big gap in the rep ranges. Meaning when training for hypertrophy you will be looking at a rep scheme for most strength training exercises sitting around eight or more reps. For example, take your squat for instance when working for hypertrophy you be looking at a 10 x 3 rep pattern versus a 3 x 5 or something lower rep more conducive to a strength program. 
Secondly, after you find an optimal rep pattern for your workouts you may then look to find exercises to compliment your goals. There are 5 main archetypal primary movement sequences. 

1) Hip based movements, such as your deadlift variations

2) Squats

3) Lunges

4) Push movement patterns, such as the push-up, tricep push downs, etc.

5) Pull based movements like, bent over rows, pull ups, or bicep curls.

I suggest structuring your workouts around theses movements. Look to incorporate each moment at least twice over a 7 to 14 day period you really wish to improve in that area. Body parts that are less concerning look to incorporate them once every 7-14 days.
Lastly, the mesocycle! A mesocycle is essentially a month of a training program, a 4-week structure set around your rep patterns ,exercises, and overall goals that make up your macrocycle. The macrocycle is like your on-season and your off-season. Clearly defined periods of training 3 to 6 months long. The purpose of a mesocycle is it will allow you to commit to a steady 4-week progression on a given set of exercises. Meaning you can build a routine and maximize effort output for each exercise and once mastered the new mesocycle can begin. Offering a new way to challenge yourself with the previous month acting as a foundation. An example of this in a beginner  hypertrophy 90-day  program as follows. 

Hypertrophy Macrocycle

Month 1) creating muscle stability through dumbbell training and balance exercises

Month 2) build effective recruitment patterns at higher weight with barbell training at higher repetition

Month 3) combination of barbell and dumbbell exercises with incorporated into full body workouts at high repetition to create maximum growth 

Having set cycles like this for your exercise and/or your diet creates a situation where you can set goals beyond the daily basis and yet still more concentrated than “Get big in 90 days”. Proper planning and structure will net you way more progress than any supplement, any 1-day boot camp, or body pump. For those looking to explore what a proper program has to offer click here.

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