by Walter Sword (1983)
Last year I reached a goal I set for myself when I began powerlifting four years ago: to get my Master's total. Like all competitive powerlifters, I experimented and searched for the 'perfect' cycle that would guarantee results. Disappointed with the 'conventional' cycles, my training partner Steve Grill and I developed this idea of mini-cycles.
A mini-cycle is simple a short cycle inside a long cycle. There can be various length combinations. For example:
Two 6-week mini-cycles in a 12-week cycle.
Three 4-week mini-cycles in a 12-week cycle.
Four 3-week mini-cycles in a 12-week cycle.
I have used 3-week mini-cycles with repetitions of 5's on the first week, 3's on the second week, and 1's on the third week. For me the percent of weight decrease on repetitions is 10% from 1's to 3's, and 5% from 3's to 5's. The percent decrease between mini-cycles is is 7.5%. Below is a comparison of a 'conventional' cycle and mini-cycles.
Conventional 9-week cycle:
Week 1: 60% max x 5 sets x 7-10 reps.
Week 2: 70% x 4 sets x 5-7 reps.
Week 3: 75% x 3 sets x 6.
Week 4: 80% x 3 sets x 5.
Week 5: 85% x 3 sets x 3-5.
Week 6: 85% x 3 sets x 3-5.
Week 7: 90% x 2 sets x 2-4.
Week 8: 100% x 1 set x 1.
Three 3-week mini-cycles:
Week 1: 70% x 2-3 sets x 5 reps.
Week 2: 75% x 2-3 sets x 3 reps.
Week 3: 85% x 2-3 sets x 1 rep.
Week 4: 77.5% x 2 sets x 5 reps.
Week 5: 82.5% x 2 sets x 3 reps.
Week 6: 92.5% x 2 sets x 1 rep.
Week 7: 85% x 1 set x 5 reps.
Week 8: 90% x 1 set x 3 reps.
Week 9: 100% x 1 set x 1 rep.
Max in these instances is weight projected for end of cycle, not current maximum. Only the heavy sets are listed, not any warmup percentages.
Advantages of Mini-Cycles.
Overtraining: overtraining can be reduced because the weights and repetitions increase and decrease throughout the cycle which places less stress on the body at crucial intervals.
Injuries: injuries can be reduced because the week of 5's after the week of 1's is a lower percent, placing less stress on the body, providing a 'rest' week from heavy 1's.
Peak Control: the peak can be controlled by evaluating performance at the end of each mini-cycle and making adjustments, depending on difficulty or ease of previous mini-cycle, by lowering or raising the weights of the next mini-cycle.
Neuromuscular: efficiency with 1's is developed early in the program by desensitizing mind and body to 1's.
Boredom: mini-cycles are different, providing variety for the lifter.
That's interesting, I was trying to think of something like that the other day. I was thinking that a guy could use Wendler's 5/3/1 but do multiple sets at the top percentage for the day. Then as he progressed the amount of volume would have to be reduced as the intensity rose. This article gives me even more food for thought. Thanks.
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