March 27, 2014 posted by

How To Organize A Training Cycle

How To Organize A Training Cycle

Today we take a look at the thought process around organizing a training cycle.

1      Start with a goal and work backwards. This simplifies the structuring process. In order to adapt to a new training block, you need a minimum of three weeks. Having a hard date you need to peak defines what you have time to improve upon, systematically, and what you’ll need to skip. The longer you have, the more you’re able to target big changes. This is why athletes only make major physiological alterations during the off-season.

2      Take a physical assessment and apply it to your training. This means defining strengths and weakness, based on the goal, so you can set-up a structure that is realistic for the given period of time.

3      Do the same thing for nutrition/supplementation and match them up. There are better times to try and lose (or gain) weight than others.

4      Take a realistic look at your life/lifestyle and implement it into your schedule. This helps you stay focused by avoid excuses. It’s easy to set-up a kick-ass structure, only to remember there’s a family reunion cruise in the middle of it that crushes your psyche. You can train around a busy life, but it’s much easier if it’s anticipated.

5      Get after it. Just start. Don’t wait for the perfect time because it might never come. The time is now.

Now let’s break it down using. As usual, I’ll play the stooge.

The Overview

I want to be climbing well by June 1st. That gives me 9 weeks to train. I think that I’d like to focus on power, power-endurance, and integration (turning fitness into sports performance). Concurrently, I need to build base fitness for both mountain running and cycling for goals later in the year. Let’s lay it out to see if those three blocks make the most sense.

Physical assessment

I finished three blocks of preparatory training: prep, foundation, and hypertrophy. While the last block did not go as planned, nine weeks does not allow time for a do over (which would be nice), so I’m stuck with where I am, physically, in the realm of muscle growth. It’s time to turn the muscle that I currently have into performance.

Next, a quick scan of things that need to improve will help me decide what to do.

More mobility – Discussed in this post, it’s time to dedicate myself to improving this. It can be done, concurrently, within any other type of training, so its placement here is more of a “note to self” than something I need to consider within the structure.

More strength/power – strength to weight ratio is paramount where climbing is concerned. I’ve been building muscle, now it’s time to make that muscle strong and efficient. Posts on this are forthcoming, though I’ve written about it a ton, so you can search the blog if impatient.

More power-endurance – In lay terms, this is the ability to stave off a pump for as long as possible and climb while pumped. It’s absolutely vital to climb (or do anything) at your limit that’s over about 10 seconds.

More skin/technique/fluidity on rock – while I’ve been climbing a long time, there’s always a period where integrating fitness gains into real world movements needs to happen. There are many ways to structure this, so you can still train systems, but it should be more focused on movement and less on isolation of physical systems.

Better aerobic efficiency – which helps with recovery. Also important because I have running/riding goals later in the year, so I need to get back on the bike. I’ve been hiking/running already. This adds volume, which gets into issues with limited energy, but also makes it easier to lose weight. More on this later.

 Less weight – when fighting gravity, how much you weigh is primary factor. I need to weigh less, plain and simple.

Making a schedule

Working backwards, I need 3 weeks to integrate fitness into efficient climbing on rock. So now I have 6 weeks to play with.

Since the routes I’d like to do will take longer than 10 seconds, power endurance is limiting factor, so it should be trained closest to the performance period. 3 weeks, the minimum, means I’ve got 3 more weeks.

“If you can’t do that moves, there’s nothing to endure,” so I’ll spend the final 3 weeks working on power. Keep in mind that if I had a project with one stopper move, I would structure differently, with more emphasis on this aspect.

Here’s how it looks.

Week 1Power

Weight – 178

P1  P2  P3
Week 2Power

Weight – xxx

P4 P5 la la TOR
Week 3Power

Weight – xxx

TOR la P6 P7 stG stG
Week 4PE

Weight – xxx

Week 5PE

Weight – xxx

PE4 la la la PE5
Week 6PE

Weight – xxx

Week 7Transition

Weight – xxx

TBD la la la Climb/Train
Week 8Integration

Weight – xxx

Climb/Train Climb/Train Climb/Train Climb/Train
Week 9Integration

Weight – xxx

Climb/Train la LaClimb/Train La  End

The individual workouts will be covered in other posts. As will nutrition. As you can see, I’m fat. Target weight 163.

P = Power workout

PE = Power-endurance workout

TOR = climbing day at the Tor

StG = weekend mtb trip

la = work trip

TBD = Transition weeks should always be theoretical in advance, then altered in order to fit in with how training is going

Climb/Train = integration is climbing based, but each day will finish with targeted training. Again, this can’t be crafted ahead of time. Based on training/recovery/and how you feel on a particular day.

Dietary scheduling

The best scenario is to lose weight without affecting your training and recovery. This means that I’ll eat and supplement different in each block of training, which I’ll cover in another post.


Other than bimonthly trips for work, which can be trained around easily, there’s only one weekend of activity that will distract training.  I’ll address training away from home in another post.

So that’s it. The plan is very simple. To riff off the video from my last post, making it happen is not so simple.

pic: professor todd mei, back in the day when he was still “the black hole of kent”, on action direct. frankenjura, germany.

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