Weekly And Monthly Cycles
in detail the use and structuring of a yearly cycle broken into 3 macro cycles,
and further broken down to monthly cycles. The year is split into year in 3
parts, 4 montly cycles (conditioning, power, and bodybuilding) adding up to
complete 12 months cycle.
I also will
discuss longer cycles that may last months or years, based on the priniciples
of Stuart McRobert and his BRAWN book training series.
CYCLES PART ONE:
How do you set up a yearly cycle? By outlining the weekly and monthly cycles
inside the yearly cycle.
Weekly Cycle: POWER
Basic exercises are done with heavy weight and high intensity, resting 2 to 3
days or more between workouts. Generally, each body part is trained twice every
7 to 8 days. Once a week a session is given priority and you blast that body
part. The next week switch to a different body part as your hard day. Cardio is
performed one time a week.
This type of training requires lots of sets and reps using moderate weights.
Each body part should be done with 2 to 5 exercises with lots of sets. Cardio
is done daily. Once a week do cardio twice in a day and really push yourself.
The rest of the week pace yourself.
In this area,train each body-part as needed. Generally 2 times per week with
multiple sets. Once a week go high intensity.
So these are the general guidelines for the weekly cycles. The monthly cycle
actually determines what you will be doing during those weeks. For that, we
take a good look at the monthly cycles in all 3 phases.
Each month you start off using weights that are moderate for you. Train hard
for the first week with these weights, but not to the ragged edge. Week two
increase the weight and use techniques to raise the intensity. The reps are in
the 4 to 8 range. Still, hold back this week. Week three..blast away. Choose a
workout this week and give it 100%! Train till you drop. Train with all out
focus and PUSH HARD!! This should be the gut busting workout of the month. If
you can’t use heavier weights, simply use techniques to RAISE THE INTENSITY!!
Week 4 back off and either rest totally (as is often best) or perform moderate
training for 4 to 7 days.
Lots of sets and reps and moderate weights. Each body part is done with 2 to 5
exercises with lots of sets. Cardio is done daily. Start with 3 to 5 cardio
sessions during week one and one or two more during week two and perhaps 7 to
10 cardio sessions in week 3. Week 4, back off to 4 sessions.
Train each bodypart as needed. Once a week go high intensity. Cardio usually 3
to 7 times a week. This program is simple: during the first two weeks train
with lots of sets and reps. In week 3 train just like it were a power cycle
only not so heavy, but go HIGH INTENSITY and reduce the number of exercises and
sets by at least 60% . During week four take 3 to 5 days totally off and then
go high reps with light weights and burn the muscles for 2 workouts. Then resume
the cycle with a new month.
So where you are in the yearly cycle will depend on how well you have trained
and structured your monthly and weekly workouts. The system is based on dynamic
planned change. The body is always adapting to this program.
Planned Progression (Training cycles also called periodization).
The proper way too look at this is calling it planned progression. You have to
progress to impact your physique. Yet progress can’t be continual and
unrelenting. You can’t keep running faster and faster. You reach a point that
only by cycling your training intensity, can you continue to improve over a
It’s easy to burn out or get hurt by trying to be 100% all the time. No one can
be 100% all year round. After you build up to run the marathon or compete in
the Mr. Universe, or a new max bench press, you have to take a break and build
back up into top form, for next time. If you don’t, you will soon go stale and
or get hurt and cease all progress as your body struggles to remain at 100% performance.
The body needs to be coaxed along by hard work to increase in muscle mass. Slow
but steady progression over a long period of time. It’s simple. You back off
from your peak, then build back up again, monthly cycle by monthly cycle, all
the way to a new yearly peak. Each peak, should be higher than the last.
Some people like longer cycles. 12 weeks, 24 weeks and so on. I use the monthly
cycle within a 4 month macro cycle. Any cycle is fine. The bottom line is
progression. Planning to progress and willing it to happen, by working out very
hard in the gym, is the key. You want to end your cycles big. If you are maxing
out and doing your highest weights or highest intensity workouts during the
middle of your cycle, you are messing up. You will burn out and overtrain. You
want to peak at the end of the cycle. Don’t burn out early. Hold back till it’s
time to let loose. Then after you have maxed out (on schedule) you allow
yourself time to recover,and then begin training again, starting light and building
back up. Planned Progression. If you know you are competing in August, you can
plan to lift your heaviest or engage your most intense workouts at about 6 to 4
weeks out from the show. This will maximize your muscle mass for the contest
day. Maxing too early or too late can be tricky. You don’t want to go stale.
You have to time everything correctly. Be careful not to get anxious and over
do it. Stick to your plan.
As you progress year after year, you will be amazed by how advanced you become,
especially as compared to where you began. For example, my light week workouts,
would have killed me 10 years ago. But now I am so much stronger and more fit
than I was then, my light week feels effortless, just as it should. I do 30 rep
chins, leg press with 500 for 25 reps, and it’s effortless. By the time I hit
my heavy week I am leg pressing 1,400lbs and lat pulling 250lbs x 5, and
recovery becomes an issue. Keep in mind I only use my max weights once a year,
but do a 85% to 90% max each month during my strength and bodybuilding cycle,
using high intensity training methods.
CYCLES PART TWO: LONG CYCLES
In the book “Brawn” and “Beyond Brawn” Stuart McRobert
describes the essence of correct training. Short, hard, workouts, once or twice
a week of an hour or less in duration, focusing on basic multi-joint exercises.
You rest completely between hard workouts to allow maximum time to grow. And
most importantly you add a half pound or a full pound or two pounds onto the
bar, on all exercises, as often as possible (every workout or every other
workout). The idea is to progress slowly and for as long as possible. A cycle
like this can go on for years in come cases as the athlete continues to
Few programs work as well as this one for adding pure muscle. It’s an endless
power cycle in essence. Short, intense and heavy.
Six exercises once a week. Do 2 or 3 warm up sets, with gradually increasing
weights, and then perform your “max set” and move onto another
I have found that every 2 months it is good to take a break from the heavy
stuff even if only for one or two workouts. Sometimes I find one light workout
followed by a heavy one (with one more pound on the bar) works well when you
start reaching your limits.
Overall this is an excellent way to make progress. Thousands of people have
tried this system and it works. Daily workouts and split routines are great if
you are already big and strong or if you are a professional athlete of some
sort. Otherwise they (daily workouts and split routines) can often be a
detriment to the dedicated athlete who is not naturally strong before entering
The simple truth is daily workouts and split routines often spell disaster and
no gains for the average person. It’s way too much weight training for the
average person. This method of training is a way of training that will work for
almost everyone. Steady progress, being careful not to get hurt (by making big
jumps in weight) and using immaculate form in all exercises (to avoid injury).
Each week add a tiny bit of weight to the bar and keep going. Don’t train till
you are exhausted. Don’t train for a pump or a burn. Don’t rush from set to
set. Train hard of course, but not so hard you risk injury. Steady but
I used this method exclusively for 6 months and the routine produced tremendous
results. I did six exercises once a week. I got stronger almost every time I
lifted. Usually I would add just one pound or two to the bar. In 28 weeks I
added almost 120 lbs to my squat. Not bad for a guy in his forties. All my
lifts went up and I began my precontest routine (30 weeks) with more mass than
If you are not experiencing gains or have not for a while; if you have been
stuck in the same place for a long time in size and strength, are naturally thin,
or perhaps don’t have time to train every day, or do not have the natural
recovery ability to engage and benefit from daily training; I would strongly
recommend you give this method of progression a serious try for at least one
This method can be deceiving. It looks easy. Done correctly is is nothing but
hard work. Training once a week after several months brings you to new vistas
of recovery and strength. Yes, you get stronger..but the workouts get harder as
well. Add a lb a week to your max deadlift for 5 reps starting today and let me
know how it feels in 6 months. You get stronger but the workouts, by design,
keep you at your limit.
You only need to train once a week when you train this hard and heavy.
Sometimes even less. It is all about recovery. If you return to the gym and are
not stronger, go home, you are not ready yet.
This form of training like all weight training is dangerous. You must use good
form and not try to lift more than you can TRAIN WITH. Better to lift less in
perfect form and make real progress than to risk injury and possible months out
of the gym trying to get over that injury. Don’t worry, the weights will be
heavy enough in no time.
If you are a rank beginner just choose a moderate weight to start in all
exercises and build up gradually over time. Warm up well before training and
for each max set. Once a week add a tiny bit of weight and perhaps some reps to
each exercise. In a few weeks perhaps months, you will be (safely) at your
You have to have mental resolve and apply yourself consistently to this type of
training. You have to dig in and DECIDE to get stronger. You have to push
yourself without working so hard you lose form or train so hard it becomes a
NEGATIVE FACTOR to your health.