You’ve spent the entire off-season working hard at your Strength and Conditioning program. You’ve improved your Strength, Speed, Agility, and Athleticism. Your confidence level is high. Now it’s time for the competition, in-season period, including all the pre-season, regular-season, and post-season games. Most sports have long seasons, spanning 3-4 months or more. There are several good reasons to continue Strength training throughout the season:
Research indicates that Strength training just one day per week is adequate for athletes to maintain off-season Strength gains. Additionally, two Strength training days per week can help athletes continue to build strength throughout the season. Although volume (sets) and frequency (days) should be reduced, it’s important to maintain the intensity level of your workout. If your off-season workout incorporated bench press sets of 150 lbs., reducing the weight during the season will not help you maintain the same level of strength. In-season Strength training not only keeps you strong, it helps you endure the “grind” of the season and avoid wearing down.
In-season Strength training – especially a program designed and supervised by a Strength and Conditioning professional – should be balanced. That means you should be performing both push and pull exercises (we refer to this as agonist-antagonist paired sets). This approach is both effective and efficient.
Use It or Lose It
Use it or lose it… that’s the nature of muscle. Season-long participation in practices and games will not keep you strong. Conversely, it will wear you down. In-season Strength training is necessary to maintain Strength, Speed, and Agility. Detraining also has the potential to increase body fat and weight and decrease VO2peak and metabolic rate, according to Ormsbee and Arciero (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research).
You can’t wait until you “have” time. You’ve got to make in-season Strength training a priority. One or two 30 minute workouts per week is all you need. Put the power, plyometric, and assistance exercises on the shelf until the off-season. Core, multi-joint Strength building exercises – like the squat, deadlift, Romanian deadlift, bench press, and row – should comprise most of your workout.