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Life is Cyclical - Your Training Should Be Too

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Life is cyclical. It is a pattern seen in the world and in almost every facet of life when you take the time to look at it and dissect it. I believe cyclical pattern is a natural law of life and I try to follow it with as many things as I can. For example, with diet there are seasons of caloric surplus and caloric deficit. With finances, there are seasons of saving and seasons of spending/enjoying (vacations, trips, ect). With training we have seasons of preparation and seasons of performance - and this is what were going to focus in on today.

Achieving optimal physical fitness requires a nuanced approach that considers not just the type of exercise, but also the time of year and the specific physical qualities being targeted. In a recent podcast episode, we dove into the importance of shifting focus on different physical qualities throughout the year for a balanced training regime that promotes balance throughout the body and promotes longevity.

There are four main physical qualities that should dominate your training throughout the year:

1. Strength & Hypertrophy (building muscle)

2. Athleticism (relative strength, power & movement competency)

3. General Physical Preparedness - GPP (maintenance, conditioning, structure & balance)

4. Mobility

Each plays a distinct role in shaping your physical capabilities and, when strategically targeted, can lead to peak physical fitness. But the magic happens when we modulate the intensity of training for these qualities over the course of our training year.

For instance, winter months can be particularly useful for our Strength & Hypertrophy phase. For those that must deal with winter, the conservation of calories is much easier to attain because we are naturally less active during winter months. We are trapped inside and not out doing activities that burn calories (yard work, walking, golfing, etc.)

Furthermore, as we discuss in the episode, the festivities of the holidays take place during this time of year. While the instinct might be to resist indulgence, leaning into it with a clear training focus can yield surprising results. When we are trying to build muscle, we need to attain a caloric surplus. Therefore, you are awarded a little more freedom this time of year that allows you to enjoy the family dinners and homemade desserts without feeling like you have completely derailed your diet. THIS DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE THE GREEN LIGHT TO GO OFF THE RAILS!!! Enjoy it, but don't go overboard.

Now that we can see how the time of year can help compliment our training, how should we layout the rest of the year? The first tool we want to look at is our GPP blocks. We consider GPP as a bridge block between intense training phases. It allows your body to recover, consolidate the gains made, and prepare for the next training phase. During this period, conditioning plays a significant role, ensuring your body's ability to recover is in peak condition to handle the varied work done in ensuing phases.

Our two intense phases throughout the year will be our Strength & Hypertrophy phases, as well as our athletic phase. Therefore, our GPP blocks will be plugged in before and/or after each one of these phases.

As for the athleticism phase, the focus shifts to enhancing your body’s ability to move efficiently in space. This requires relative strength (strength in relation to your bodyweight), fluid movement, balance, coordination and power. Because of this, favorable body composition is needed. That means we need to shed unneeded weight! Because of this, this phase takes advantage of the warmer months, where outdoor activities increase and contribute to a caloric deficit, thereby facilitating weight loss.

Finally, we discuss the importance of movement competency and mobility in achieving optimal physical fitness. You can not build muscle or be athletic if you can't move! We don't have a specific mobility or movement competency phase within our training year but that is because these things are foundational elements that should be integrated into your training regime all year round.

Regardless of the season or the physical quality being targeted, the ability to move well and with ease is a crucial aspect of fitness. Therefore, it should always be emphasized within your training whether it be through specific mobility work and/or training in full or extended ranges of motion. Some people are naturally born mobile and some are born wound up tight. Depending which you are will dictate how you must approach movement within your training program.

In conclusion, optimizing fitness is a year-round endeavor that requires strategic planning, discipline, and an understanding of your body's needs. By shifting focus on different physical qualities throughout the year, and leveraging the advantages each season offers, you can create a training program that ensures consistent progress and peak physical fitness. You most certainly don't have to follow the template I lay out here throughout the year - choose what schedule works best for you. However, regardless of the time of year, your training should still cycle its focus if you want to achieve the best results possible long-term.

If you need help or want to see how training can be cycled throughout the year, come and train with me over on Team Valor where all of these things are put into application to build strong, capable athletes every single day. As the title says, life is cyclical and your training should be too!

male body builder posing at c roy strength and performance gym


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