In Season Training Article
The majority of athletes train their hardest to improve fitness, increase strength, and gain muscle mass during the off- and pre-seasons, only to discontinue strength training during the in-season. Athlete who do so often watch their strength and lean-tissue-mass slowly waste away throughout the long competitive season. Once the competitive athletic season begins, barely any attention is usually paid to the qualities (strength, speed, quickness, and nutrition) they’ve worked so hard to improve upon. After training so hard for so long, this is probably one of the least intelligent decisions that any athlete can make. The fact is, an athlete’s in-season training, eating, and sleeping regime should be viewed as the most important decisions of his or her athletic year.
Let’s use lacrosse players as an example. Every year from December thru March hundreds of lacrosse players, of all ages, come to The TopSpeed Performance School to improve speed, agility, quickness, strength and fitness. Between early-March and mid-June the majority of these same players are nowhere to be found. Most believe that showing up for daily practice and playing in one game a week is all that is needed to carry them through the in-season in tip-top shape. At The TopSpeed Performance School we believe that athletes should strive towards the goal of maintaining strength, speed, quickness and health over the entire season, not just for the first game! By ending their training regime in early-March, these athletes are setting themselves up to peak over the next two weeks followed by a gradual decline over the remainder of the in-season. They’re basically peaking only for the first game or two. By mid-season any strength, muscle-mass and speed that had been built up during the off- and pre-season is usually long gone. By play-offs, the most crucial time of the season to peak – strength, quickness, power, speed and ability to combat injury are often at a season low.
If time constraints brought on by school and practice, impede your training, I have good news. You don’t need as much time-in-the-gym during the in-season to maintain the gains you made during the off-season! Recent research has shown that you can maintain 90% of your maximum strength by training only 1 out of 7 days! Studies have also shown that the biggest factor in diminished speed and strength during the grueling in-season is due to a loss of muscle mass. If athletes were able to maintain the muscle mass they’ve built in the off-season, they would be 90% more likely to maintain their speed and strength, as well as decrease their chance of developing a serious injury.
Simply put, a properly designed weight-training program that incorporates the proper amount of hypertrophy (muscle-building) and maximal strength-training methods, with the proper set, rep and tempo schemes, implemented ONE day a week during the in-season can drastically increase performance and decrease potential for injury throughout the season.
Members of the United States National Rugby Team participated in an in-season strength training program at the TopSpeed Performance School. They lifted weights once or twice a week during the in-season. The program incorporated the methods described above. All the guys maintained the strength they built in the off-season and many of them got even stronger as the season progressed! The hard worked paid off. The guys won two out of five games in a tour against the perennially tough Australian National Rugby Team. Good on ya gentlemen!
Nicholas Sita, PhD, LPT, MSOT, CSPC, CES, LMT