The importance of cycling your training

Arguably the most important factor in training is planning of your training. Technique can reach a point where it will give you limited returns. Same with other factors such as mobility, recovery, nutrition. However, planning your training can still give you necessary gains because the variables can be manipulated to improve performance. All factors of training are highly important especially sleep. No argument there. But planning your training by cycling phases of training will get you over plateaus and lack of results.

Why is it important to cycle your training?

“To introduce new training stimulus to create adaptations for greater strength gains.”

When the human body receives a stimulus it will form an adaptation. After a period of recovery the adaptation will cause the body to create force production with less effort for the same amount of stimuli. If the same stimuli is applied less effort will be used to complete the movement. That’s why doing the same loads and intensities over time will slow down progress.

Let’s talk about different training cycles to create new stimuli for growth.

High Volume

The main objective during this cycle of training is to create muscular hypertrophy through higher volumes of training for future strength gains. More repetitions and sets are used during this phase of training. In addition, one can develop greater tensile strength in the connective tissue. This is so important because you need to develop tensile strength to support greater loads for future strength gains. Muscles hypertrophy faster than connective tissue. High volume training develops greater muscular capacity to do work. This means that your body can do much more work and with less effort over time.

Sample Periodization chart for planning your training

Maximal Effort or Pre-Competition

This phase comes before a competition and uses anywhere from 90%, 95% or 100% of max effort. The volume is drastically reduced in order to create full force development. The goal here is maximum strength and peak performance.

Dynamic Effort of speed 

This cycle uses submaximal efforts but at greater rate of force development. SPEED!!! Move the bar faster than usual. It’s lighter yes but we want to move as fast as possible. Over time you can move greater loads at greater rates of speed development. For example, the second phase of the pull in either the snatch or clean and jerk is measured at around 1.8m/s. Training with lighter loads at greater rates of force development we can push a power snatch, speed deadlift, power clean or power jerk to 2.0m/s.


A de-load cycle is a planned cycle of lower volume training and lower intensities to allow for recovery to prepare for the next training cycle. This cycle usually falls in between 2 training cycles.

snatch progression
Snatch progression chart

Points to consider

When you are planning your training cycles consider the length of time anywhere between 4 to 6 or maybe even 8 weeks of training. Especially for high volume training. The point is you don’t want to be stuck on one cycle forever. Complete your cycle, make the necessary gains and adaptations you’re looking for and then move on.

Also consider planned recovery cycles and days off. This allows for necessary recovery to bring back the body to full capacity. It’s hard to make gains on limited sleep or recovery.

Final thoughts

Plan your training cycles accordingly. You will know when you are making progress when you’re feeling more capable, when you’re doing more work than previously, when you are lifting loads that previously you couldn’t. It’s not hard to monitor progress but progress can slow down when training isn’t creating the stimulus your body needs to create adaptations that lead to progress. And that’s what cycling your training is all about: introducing new stimuli to create new strength gains after adaptations.


Josue Cano

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