>The Magic of the 12-Week Training Cycle

>To optimally achieve your health and fitness or athletic goals, it is ideal to keep your body guessing so it is constantly challenged.

The key, however, is not to change things TOO frequently. Sound confusing? Well, let me break it down a little.

It has been shown that having a 12-week time frame or macrocycle is a fair amount of time to make significant progress towards your goal. The key to keeping things progressing and challenging your body without doing it too frequently is to break things down into smaller goals over a shorter period (mesocycles) or every 3-4 weeks. This will help you achieve your main goal in a manner that makes sense.

This type of training will allow for you to plan your peak. Whether it’s for a photo shoot or a sports competition, your goals will vary the closer you get to peak-time. This method prepares you for a more predictable outcome based on a process that allows you to first build your foundation then work on your weaknesses, so you can safely and healthily reach your goal. Three to four weeks is ample time to progress in your goals, while identifying where your weaknesses lie. Sometimes you may even need to stay in one mesocycle longer to make significant gains. The only way to know this for sure is to track your progress and keeping your mesocyle constant for at least four weeks. If you change your program too frequently, there is no way of knowing what was working and what wasn’t.

One of the first keys is to do a series of tests like your rep max (1RM), your V02 max, your body awareness and anthropometric measurements to find out where you are at. This is a must if you want truly personalized results; you will never make progress if you don’t currently know where you stand. It’s like taking a before and after picture.

Regardless of your goals, there are certain principles that must be integrated and followed that will elicit a positive response within each mesocycle. What will alter is just the implementation and modification of these principles or macrocycle based on your specific needs. These training principles are:

The Overcompensation/Overload Principle
Your body will overcompensate for training stress by giving you bigger, stronger muscles. You must challenge and overload your body beyond its current level.

The SAID Principle
Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands – your body will adapt and improve based on the specific training demands you place on it

The Specificity Principle
If you are looking to improve your upper body strength, you must work out your upper body. If you want to be a marathon runner, you need to run, etc.

The GAS Principle
General Adaptation Syndrome – high intensity training must be followed by a period of rest or lower intensity training to prevent injury and burnout.

The key thing with your 12-week program is to choose your goal, plan it out, stick with it and be consistent on that particular path.

Here is a sample of what you might do if you are training for a sport or fitness goal that works primarily in the ATP-PC energy systems:

Mesocycle 1
This will primarily focus on building up or backing up your foundation, while overcoming weaknesses and getting your head back into the game.

Mesocycle 2
This will focus more on functional strength and the muscles primarily used for your specific sport or fitness goal, while still continuing to identify your weak areas.

Mesocycle 3
This will focus more on speed-strength training and explosive movements specific to your sport or fitness goal, while maximizing skill.

Mesocycle 4
This will involve focusing on sport-specific skills and drills, ballistic movements and plyometrics, while you focus on your strengths and get your head ready for game time.

Regardless if your goal is sport-related or physique-related, the 12-week mark has simply been shown to be the pinnacle timeframe for significant changes. This timeframe will allow for a safe level of trackable progression if carefully broken down into short-term goals, ultimately leading to your pinnacle goal of athletic or physique success.

The Magic of the 12-Week Training Cycle

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