The harder you work in the off-season the more your chances of success during the season increase, but the sweat you poured in the off-season won’t make that big of a difference if you follow a poor in-season strength and conditioning program. Even worse if you don’t follow an in-season strength and conditioning program all together! With that being said the purpose of this article is to provide you with tips and strategies to put together an effective in-season strength in conditioning program that will improve your performance on the field/court and reduce your risk of injury.
Tip #1 Get in the weight room!
Tip #2 Be smart with volume
As important as it is to get in the weight room, it is just as vital to not overdo it. I recommend 2-3 full-body training sessions a week depending on your sport and how many games you play per week. Keep in mind these are not off-season training sessions so you shouldn’t be attempting to set new records in your core lifts every week. In-season sessions should include only about 30 minutes of resistance training or about 15-20 actual sets of exercises. I recommend keeping the rep ranges between 6-10 but obviously that will depend on the exercise selection. Lastly, it is important to incorporate daily self-myofascial release techniques using different modalities such as a foam roller, lacrosse ball/baseball, and stick roller. Soft tissue work will help reduce soreness and keep you feeling fresh.
Tip #3 Use compound movements
We want to maintain and even build strength and durability with our in-season training to combat the stress that accumulates on our bodies throughout the season; therefore we must be efficient with our programming. Stick to multi-joint exercises as opposed to isolation exercises. Squats, deadlifts, and vertical/horizontal pressing and pulling exercises should be the focus of a program. Research shows that compound exercises recruit more muscle fibers and lead to greater increases in strength than isolation exercises (Gottschall). It is also important to incorporate some anti-extension and anti-rotational core exercises to help maintain stability and posture during the long and grueling season.
Tip #4 Take care of your body outside of the weight room!
If you are a serious athlete then you need to have a focused nutrition plan. If you struggle to eat healthy keep a food journal and write down everything that you eat and drink throughout the day. This will help keep you on track with your diet. It is also extremely important to stay hydrated! It should be noted that “negative effects on performance have been demonstrated with modest (<2%) dehydration” (Barr). Again, I can’t stress how important it is to stay on top of your nutrition and hydration, especially in-season.
So there you have it! This is just a brief overview of in-season programming strategies, but hopefully you can take this information and put it to good use. If y’all have any specific questions on anything I mentioned above feel free to email me at AustinWomack9@gmail.com or tweet me at @AustinWomack12. I’d be happy to talk with you directly about programming, nutrition, or anything that might help your performance in your sport.
Barr S. Effects of Dehydration on Exercise Performance. Can J Appl Physiol. 1999 Apr;24(2):164-72.
Gottschall, J.S., Mills, J., Hastings, B. Integration Core Exercises Elicit Greater Muscle Activation Than Isolation Exercises. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27, 3, 590-596.
Rønnestad, B., Nymark, B., Raastad, T. Effects of in-season strength maintenance training frequency in professional soccer players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2011 Oct; 25. (10):2653-60.