In-Season Strength Training | Work It Training
By Work It Trainer Shane Whitehead, CSCS
Trying to get stronger during the season can be a challenging task. Your body has a limited ability to recover from the combination of practice, competitions and strength training, so you need to prioritize what is most important at different times throughout the year. If you have a good plan in place, you can get stronger and stay injury free year after year.
Ideally, you would reserve your off-season time for your hardest workouts with a focus on getting as strong as possible. This is the time to push yourself hard in the gym and increase weights and work capacity. As the competition season begins to approach, you will need to start dedicating more time to conditioning work as well as skills specific to your sport.
Once competitions begin, your training routine will start to get more complicated. You will have to assess your sport and decide what muscles are being used and how hard they are being stressed. The more physically stressful your competition, the more recovery you will need. For example, if you are a sprinter, and rely on maximum power and being explosive, your in-season lower body workouts will need to be lower in intensity. Strength gains should be much slower during the season to avoid fatigue and injury. Reaching a personal best in your deadlift is great, but if you don’t fully recover and pull a hamstring at your next competition it could impact your performance for the rest of the season.
Since most athletes don’t have much control over their training schedule, the best thing you can do is focus on maximizing recovery. Diet and sleep can have a huge influence on recovery time so make sure you focus on both. Getting a minimum of 7.5 hours of sleep (ideally 9) and eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods should be your first priority. Another great element to incorporate is some type of massage. The most common is using a foam cylinder (foam roller) or various size balls such as baseballs or softballs. Using these objects to massage tight or sore muscles can help enhance blood flow and promote faster recovery. It may be painful at the time, but afterwards you should feel better and be able to return to training faster.