athletic training cycles

Athletic Training Cycles for SGT Programming

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Athletes train differently throughout the year to ensure they are in the best shape to perform. Why not apply some of the same high level coaching principles to your clientele? Though your everyday clients might not be training for the NFL combine, they are all working toward a goal and they all have one thing in common – peak in-season physicality and performance.

But what is “in-season” for everyday clients?

Whether their long-term goals are to run a half marathon or gain muscle – most would agree they want feel good (and look good) on their summer vacations. They want to actively participate in the outdoor activities that warmer temperatures and long summer days play host to. Get them ready by planning an annual training cycle that aligns with the same athletic training principles that elite-level strength and conditioning coaches use. Keep your clients guessing and coming back for more by creating a variety of sports-based circuits that change training focus on a cyclical basis.

An annual training cycle for athletes is built in three phases:

  • Macrocycle – annual programming, i.e. big picture
  • Mesocycle – quarterly program details, i.e. seasonal
  • Microcycles – monthly/weekly program details

The macrocycle, or big picture, goal for your group will differ based on your expertise and your clientele. A good example might be overall functional fitness. The mesocycle training goals will become your quarterly training plans and will somewhat align with an athletic training pre-season, in-season, and off-season training schedule. The programming details for each cycle are contained in the microcycle, or weekly programming components.

For example, pre-season programs (late winter, early spring) for your athletes should focus on power development through low volume (2-3 sets), high intensity (heavy weight) resistance training and metabolic training intervals for cardiovascular benefits (short maximal work intervals with full recovery between). Resistance training exercises should be more traditional in nature and will yield great results when integrated with HIIT training cardio intervals. An example of a pre-season metabolic training interval might consist of work sets of 15-20 seconds of maximum effort with a full recovery period of 60-90 seconds.

In-season programs (spring, summer, early fall) are reflective of an athlete’s competition phase. The resistance training exercises during this phase of training should still be low volume, high intensity with a “sport-specific” focus. The strength training portion of these workouts should feature functional training movements that train multiple muscle groups at the same time and burn more calories per repetition. Cardio intervals in this training phase will focus on maintaining endurance i.e. 30-45 seconds of work intervals with 60 seconds of active recovery between.

Off-season programs for your everyday athletes (late fall, early winter) will shift focus to muscular endurance and strength training. The focus of resistance training sets will cycle on a 2-3-week interval from high volume (4-5 sets), low intensity (less weight) sets to moderate volume and intensity (2-4 sets with moderate weight) sets.  Cardio and metabolic training focus will cycle on the same 2-3-week interval with aerobic training and interval training respectively.

Whether your small groups are focused on training for a specific event or better health – they are all training for life outside the gym. The sense of community that you have created within your facility and small groups is what makes them loyal – to the gym, to their trainer, and to one another. But keep them anxious to come back for what’s next by using the athletic based training approach that is tailored to the appropriate level and goal of your small groups in 2017.

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Bennie Wylie, Jr.

About Bennie Wylie, Jr.

Power Systems Master Coach, Bennie Wylie, Jr. is a seasoned coaching professional with experience on staff for the Dallas Cowboys, the University of Tennessee, and Texas Tech. From 2011-2014, Bennie served as the head strength & conditioning coach for the University of Texas Longhorns football team. Bennie and his partner, Jill May, formed the winning duo of the 2016 NBC television series STRONG. He currently trains everyday athletes at his fitness and performance facility, The Performance Lab, in Abilene, Texas. Bennie holds a Bachelor's Degree in Kinesiology and certifications with CSCCa, TPI and USAW.