Post Attributed to Kyle Decker, ATC, CSCS and FAST Facility Manager at our Arrowhead Location.
It happens every season. An athlete gains strength and mass over the summer, only to watch it diminish slowly during the season due to a lack of training. This is because most athletes do one of two things: they either stop training altogether because they feel they cannot handle the demands of practicing 5-7 times a week as well as training, or they attempt to continue to gain mass, strength, and speed, but experience decreased performance as a result of overtraining (which can and will lead to injury.)
Both of these paths can result in diminished strength and a greater chance of injury. Athletes should not, and cannot, train with the same intensity and frequency year-round, so it is extremely important they train during the off-season to prepare for the demands of preseason, training camps, practices, and games. But what about training during the regular season itself?
An appropriate in-season training program can be the key to maintaining the performance gains made in the summer, while avoiding overtraining when sports start back in the fall. Your in-season training program’s goals should be to preserve strength gains while controlling volume and frequency.
Athletes are not content with just making the team, they want to perform at a high level and contribute throughout their season. If athletes want to be at their peak performance when playoffs arrive, practices and games are simply not enough to carry them through a season.
So how does an athlete maintain their strength and performance? What does it mean to perform a maintenance program in-season? First, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist will cut back the frequency and volume of the athlete’s off-season program. Off-season programs require more days of training to get desired results, whereas in-season programs only demand one or two hours 2-3 times per week. An athlete should be recovered and even able to perform well in competition the following day after an in-season training session.
Since gym time is reduced, speed, agility, and jumping activities are cut from the training program, as most sports already hone these skills during practices. This allows the athlete to focus purely on the strength component. Athletes need to lift challenging weights at full speed to maintain gains and they should train on the days they feel the most energized. This requires the athlete to be responsible about knowing and listening to their body.
While performing lower volume strength work, it is very important that athletes keep up with injury prevention and recovery methods such as mobility training, stabilizing muscle groups, and myofascial work. This will build a favorable platform for the individual to continue to perform at a high level throughout the season. In-season training also allows for the athlete to enter the off-season training program needing minimal remediation.
If you or your child is an athlete looking to gain an additional edge this season, contact the Phoenix personal training experts at FAST.