It seems like every season the demands of athletics increase. Teams start training as soon as possible, seasons are extended to include more games in the pre- and post-seasons, and when the school season ends, the club season is right around the corner.
An athlete’s training during the off-season is usually focused on improving on the foundations of the sport such as strength and speed enhancement. The question then becomes: when the off-season is over, should you ditch the training and focus solely on your sport again?
As a strength and conditioning coach I may sound a little biased if I answer that question with “no” but hear me out for a second. You have spent all of that hard work gaining strength and speed during the off-season that you should want to try and maintain it as much as you can. Why give up all of that hard work only to come back in the next off-season only to start over?
However doing strength and conditioning training in-season should be adjusted to allow you to focus primarily on your current sport. Here are some suggestions on how to train successfully during your in-season.
Back off a Bit
Whether you work with a trainer or on your own, it is important to scale the strength and conditioning way down and you can do this in several different ways even in conjunction. One way is to reduce the number of days you train. If you were working out two to three times a week, take it down to one day a week.
Also try scaling down the volume of your training session which is how many work sets you have previously done. For example, I generally have my athletes perform four sets of a particular exercise in the off-season where as in the in-season I might back them down to three.
Alter out your Big Lifts
Reducing the weight of your big lifts that are more taxing to your body is a good way to maintain strength and not overstress your body so you can play your sport. For example, if you dead lift 315 pounds for 3 reps max, back off to 275 pounds and do 3 sets x 5 reps instead.
Another way to minimize added stress on the body from big lifts is to swap them out altogether. Does the bench press get you fatigued? Try more push-up variations. Are you sprinting and jumping a lot at practice and in games? Ditch the Olympic lifts and box jumps and substitute with some kettlebell swings.
Stretch and Mobilize the Body More
By deleting some exercises, sets, reps and weight you will have more time to do more stretching and joint mobility drills to help aid in recovery. Come up with a 5-10 minute routine that you do every night after practice, training or before you go to sleep. The better your recovery the better you will perform the next day.
Remember the goal on in-season strength and conditioning is to maintain strength and not to add any added stress to the body so you are able to perform your best during practice and game day. With the right programming this is very achievable.
For further explanation about the topics mentioned above check out the video above.
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Doug Fioranelli is the owner of Rise Above Performance Training™ (est. 2008) where he uses personal, progressive programming to increase his athletes’ performance and reduce their risk for injury. He has over 13 years of experience in strength training, conditioning and athletic rehabilitation. He has coached many adult clients and athletes from middle school to Olympic and Professional level.
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