Cycling is a sport that requires careful and methodical planning to achieve specific goals. Whether it’s to build stamina, increase speed, or prepare for a competition, it’s critical to properly structure your training around your goals.
Periodization is the organization of training in temporary cycles that allow the program to be adapted to the individual needs and specific objectives of each athlete. These cycles are divided into three levels: macrocycle, mesocycle and microcycle. In this article, we’ll explore these concepts and see how to apply them to cycling training to optimize your results.
The macrocycle is the longest unit of time in training planning and typically lasts between 6 and 12 months . It is in this period that the general objectives are established and the different mesocycles that compose it are structured. For example, a cyclist preparing for a competition season could establish a 10-month macrocycle that includes different training phases.
A macrocycle can cover different phases or periods, which focus on different aspects of the cyclist’s performance. These periods include:
- General preparation : It is the initial phase of the macrocycle, in which the cyclist works on the aerobic base and muscular strength. The goal is to build a strong physical foundation for the later stages of training.
- Specific preparation : In this phase, the training becomes more specific and focuses on the skills and abilities that will be needed in the competitions. For example, if the cyclist competes in road races with hilly terrain, he will focus on improving climbing and hill endurance.
- Competition : During this period, the cyclist participates in competitions and events, and training is adapted based on results and recovery. The goal is to maintain optimal performance throughout the racing season.
- Transition : This stage marks the end of the macrocycle and is a period of active rest and recovery. The cyclist reduces the intensity and volume of training and focuses on lower impact activities such as swimming or walking.
The mesocycle is an intermediate stage in periodization and generally lasts 3 to 6 weeks . Each mesocycle has a specific purpose within the macrocycle, such as improving aerobic endurance, increasing strength, or fine-tuning technique. To achieve these goals, training is organized into blocks that include different types of sessions, such as road workouts, gym exercises, and active recovery sessions.
It is important to consider the principle of supercompensation , which refers to the adaptation of the body to the stress of training. After a training session, the body needs time to recover and adapt to the stimulus, resulting in increased performance. Mesocycles should be planned in such a way that recovery periods are respected and overtraining is avoided.
An example of a mesocycle in cycling could be the following:
- Weeks 1 and 2: Development of aerobic resistance, with long and smooth runs.
- Weeks 3 and 4: Increase in strength and power, with training on slopes and sprints.
- Week 5: Active recovery, with short, smooth runs, and flexibility and mobility exercises.
The microcycle is the shortest unit of time in periodization and usually lasts between 1 and 2 weeks . Each microcycle is made up of specific training sessions that vary depending on the objective of the mesocycle and the physical state of the cyclist. The distribution of the sessions in the microcycle must guarantee an adequate recovery and adaptation to the effort.
This includes the type of exercise, intensity, duration, frequency, and recovery . Variability in training is essential to stimulate the body and keep the cyclist motivated.
Properly balancing workload and recovery in the microcycle is critical. For this, different periodization methods can be used, such as linear periodization, in which the volume and intensity of training are gradually increased.
An example of a microcycle in cycling would be:
- Monday : Long smooth ride
- Tuesday : Strength training in gym
- Wednesday : Rest
- Thursday : sprint session
- Friday : Short and smooth shooting
- Saturday : Hill training
- Sunday: Long smooth ride
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