A good training plan is made up of larger blocks than just weeks. Implementing mesocycles allows you to periodise your training and devote longer periods to improving a specific aspect of your fitness. Let’s take a closer look at how to build mesocycles that best support your seasonal goal.
What’s the reason for implementing mesocycles?
Mesocycles last about one month and are made up of several microcycles that typically last a week each. The point of these larger building blocks is to allow you to ramp up the intensity in a gradual and controlled way and also implement adequate amounts of rest time. An example might be 3 weeks of training where the stress is increased slightly week after week, followed by 1 week of recovery that allows the body to catch up and adapt to reach a higher level of fitness.
Increase the training load by 5-10 % week to week
The rate at which you should increase the intensity or duration of your training rides depends on your body’s ability to adapt. This ability is influenced by the amount of training you’ve done so far and by the phase of training you’re in. Generally, it’s recommended to keep the increases in training stress to around 5-10 % from one week to the next. This should help you avoid overtraining and an increased risk of injury. But always keep in mind that the last week of the mesocycle should be a “de-load” week, meaning the training load should be reduced to about 50-60 % of the preceding week in that block. Going with our example, you might start week one with 12 h of training, then increase to 13,5 h in week two, and to 15 h in week three. The following recovery week should include only about 8 h of training.
Periodise your training blocks
Periodisation means that each of your training blocks will be different from the previous one and have a clear goal so that, together, they allow you to peak your performance at a given date, usually your race day. This means you have to identify specific fitness goals you want to develop for your race and then assign them to each training block in a logical way.
The goals you will assign to your training blocks will depend on how far from your race you currently are and what type of event you’re training for. Here are a few examples.
• Early in your preparation, you will want to build your fitness base. So, setting up a mesocycle that focuses on muscular endurance will make a lot of sense.
• As you will get closer to racing, a mesocycle that improves your functional threshold power or watts that you can sustain for one hour will be helpful.
• A cyclist preparing for a criterium event might want to use the following three mesocycles one after another to develop the aspects of fitness needed for such an event: muscular endurance, maximum oxygen uptake, anaerobic capacity.
The next article will be all about how to build weeks of training that will help you achieve the goals set for each of these training blocks.