Coaches Corner. Macro cycles and Micro cycles and their importance for training for the best Improvement

Curt Colby

Athletic Training for any sport has 2 important features when planning for your best performance: Stress and Recovery. Stress involves your workout and the recovery is your time of rest and replenishing your body between your workouts. A coach works to balance these 2 important components of training. That is where the concept of cycles comes in to the training plan. I mentioned the term Macro cycle, this would correspond to the complete season. Long Course or Summer Season and Short Course or Winter Season are the 2 seasons. The goal of the training would be to have a swimmers peak performance at the end of each Macro Cycle.  During the season then there would be Micro Cycles based around the Meets leading up to the end of the season. There are qualifying times to meet during the season so that a swimmer may make it to the Hawaiian Championship meet, Zones, Regionals, Sectionals, Futures, Juniors, Nationals, Olympic Trials and World Championships. The timing of each of these meets is co-ordinated by Hawaian Swimming, USA Swimming, SKA and other organizations to be stepping stones along a swimmer's career as they improve and to motivate them to the next level. The dates are set at optimum intervals to accommadate training schedule.

Let's take the rest of summer season to illustrate our Micro and Macro cycles. Right now we have just under 2 weeks until our next home meet on June 8th and we have had a little over 2 week since our last home meet. So our Micro Cycle going into our June 8th meet is 4 weeks. In planning the training for this cycle I have a plan of 3 1/2 weeks for training hard building strength, speed and endurance. The week of June 3rd up until the meet would be a taper training week. Tapering means to reduce the overall work load of the athlete so that their bodies can rebuild  and super compensate to be the strongest they can be. Depending if how crucial the meet is for a swimmer will determine the amount of taper. It is also import to understand that taper week may include strong workouts on Monday and Tuesday for some swimmers. If this meet is a last chance to get a qual time there would be more taper. If they have reached their qual times the taper would be less. It is important to have the length of the training period to be long enough within the cycles to have a "training effect". This is an increase in strength and endurance. Four to six week periods are a favorable for a Micro Cycle to work toward a Macro Cycle of a complete season. At times other activities may cause altering this pattern but when planning your swimming season these concepts are important to consider. My goal with this news is to help educate the whole team so that your understanding will help your swimmers reaching their goals by planning your activities with these concepts in mind. More to come. We are strengthening this team together!   Mahalo Coach Curt