What are Macrocycles Mesocycles and Microcycles in Periodisation?

Today’s blog and video will explore Macrocycles Mesocycles and Microcycles in Periodisation.

This is for you if you are a trainee/newly qualified FITPRO, or confused and overwhelmed about planning client fitness sessions. I’m going to simplify the key terminology used in any periodised plan and show you how to simplify your planning as part of your Level 3 PT casestudy, or working with clients.

You can then apply this to every client you have, outlining a clear and simplified periodisation model so the client achieves logical progression towards their goal.

Watch the 8-minute video to reveal what are Macrocycles Mesocycles and Microcycles in Periodisation, then test your knowledge with three mock questions.

What are Macrocycles Mesocycles and Microcycles in Periodisation?

What is periodisation?

Periodisation is the division of a long training duration into smaller focused chunks or “periods of time”.

It divides a long timeframe into smaller more manageable chunks. It allows for greater focus on a specific physiological adaptation at any one point and helps manage all aspects of training towards peak performance.

Periodisation is used with athletes and professional sports players, to ensure they are ready for a season of competitions, and then use the off-seasons effectively to improve performance and recover.

We use the terminology Macrocycles Mesocycles and Microcycles to explain certain “chunks” or periods of time. Periodisation is kinda like writing a book. You have the full book (macrocycle) and then individual chapters (mesocycles) with set outcomes and achievements.

What is a Macrocycle?

A Macrocycle is the long term outcome goal and reflects the length of time of your overall PT package/ programme or goal aspiration.

Inside the PT casestudy this is usually 12 weeks long.

However, when working with a client the Macrocycle could be 6 weeks, 10 weeks, 20 weeks, or even a year.

When designing a Periodisaed plan for a client (or for your casestudy), you must start by understanding what your client’s long term goal is, which will coincide at the end of macrocycle. Then every other part of the planning is decided using this benchmark as the main focus point.

What is a Mesocycle?

The mesocycle is a specific block of training designed to accomplish a specific performance goal. There are multiple mesocycles within one macrocycle.

Typically each mesocycle is 4-6 weeks long, as this is long enough to achieve an anatomical and physiological adaptation, but short enough to provide focused results. The whole mesocycle with feature variables that look to achieve one outcome (like increased speed, increased endurance OR to build habits and frequency for example),.

Not only is this better at guaranteeing physiological adaptation without conflict, but the client knows how to prepare for future sessions.  

Using Mesocycles can be much more exciting and achievable to have small stepping stone goals, for example, you may have:

Macrocycle Goal achieved – Beach ready in 16 weeks

1 Mesocycle = Foundation Fitness for 4 weeks – increase endurance and learn basic skills

2 Mesocycle = Hypertrophy for 8 weeks – increase calories and training routine to increase size

3 Mesocycle = Fat strip  for 4 weeks – gradual taper of body fat and calorie deficit

Mesocycles often apply the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) Principle, by having three weeks of progressive overload, then one week for comparative recovery.

What are Microcycles?

Microcycles are one week of training and recovery . These are programmed to consider the FITT principles, including:

  • Frequency
  • Intensity
  • Time
  • Type

Each microcycle will have its own FITT variables which will dictate the logical progression across the mesocycle. Watch another video on the FITT principle HERE

See each microcycle as a domino in a domino alley. Each domino is lined up at the perfect distance from each other, to create an overall big picture (macrocycle). When you push over the first domino by completing one week of training and recovery, you start to move the domino alley forward to get the client’s goal.

Test your knowledge with 3 Mock Questions

Having read our Personal Trainer’s Guide to periodisation, look at the three Periodisation Mock questions below. Jot down your answer on scrap paper or as a note on your phone.

Then scroll down to reveal the answers.

1) In periodisation, what is the name of the entire outcome goal cycle?

A. Macrocycle
B. Mesocycle
C. Octocycle
D. Microcycles

2) Which of the following is not part of the FITT principle variables?

A. Frequency
B. Intensity
C. Training zone
D. Time

3) Which term is used to express the client’s shortest training phase?

A. Pericycle
B. Mesocycle
C. Macrocycle
D. Microcycle


Q1: Answer = A
Q2: Answer = C
Q3: Answer = D

If you want more mock questions like this, then you can download more Free Mock Questions: DOWNLOAD NOW

Need more help with your Periodisation?

This blog explored a simple version of one periodisation model, there are many different periodisation models, each allows you to apply the science behind your client planning. Our FIT-Progressions online programme breaks down each of these periodisation models in detail with a clear protocol to follow for each one.

Plus you learn how to periodise your planning and achieve logical progressive overload so your client can get their goal every time.

>>>> Join us for FIT-Progressions here

Become a knowledgeable and confident FITPRO, with a clear strategy to get results with your clients every time.

There’s no more self-doubt. There’s no more guessing what to plan or how to get client results. FIT-Progressions has 8 modules and 18 video tutorials that guide you through every stage of your Level 3 Personal Trainer case study, and how to work with clients effectively.

This is for you if you’re…

  • struggling to complete your coursework for PT, Yoga, or Pilates
  • a newly qualified FITPRO that feels stuck or overwhelmed
  • unsure where to start when planning a client session
  • worrying about applying your course knowledge with a real client
  • doubting you could get results and lack structure to client packages
  • anxious and confused about how to get found and get busy

Click the link to find out more and join us:

Dedicated to More

Hayley “Macrocycles Mesocycles and Microcycles” Bergman

Parallel Coaching

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