Macrocycles, Mesocycles, Microcycles?


I was re-watching Season 1, Episode 2 of On track with Curtis Keene when macrocycles, mesocycles and microcycles were mentioned so I thought I’d give a taster of what they are.

Periodisation in sports training describes a training schedule that encompasses multiple workouts over a set amount of time. The schedule is broken into 3 components: the macrocycle, the mesocycle and the microcycle.


The macrocycle is typically an annual plan that works towards peaking for the main competition of the year. This plan is subdivided into a series of 3 or 4 phases, for example, preparation, competitive and transition or endurance, intensity, competition and recovery.

The pre-competition phase makes up 2/3 to 3/4 of the macrocycle. An example for this may be an initial focus on aerobic and muscular endurance, followed by a switch to lactate threshold/aerobic capacity and completed with work on anaerobic capacity and neuromuscular strength.

The competition phase may include several competitions but will build to the main goal of the year.

The transition or recovery phase allows a period of rest before the next macrocycle (though in elite athletes this may be as short as just two weeks).


A macrocycle is made up of mesocycles where a mesocycle is a block of training designed to achieve a specific goal.

A mesocycle is a combination of 4-8 microcycles (dependent on how many phases are in the plan). An example may be 1-2 preparatory phase microcycles, 1 hypertrophy cycle, 1 strength cycle and 1 power cycle. The microcycles are often followed by a rest or deload week to dissipate fatigue. In this example the cycle would be 6 weeks long.


The microcycle is typically based around 1 week of training and is generally organised into a specific attribute that is to be focused on.

This concept has been around since the late 50s/early 60s and is utilised by elite athletes across sports and disciplines so, if you’re not using it, it’s time to take a closer look.

If you’re going to take the time to practice, practice like the elite.



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