Every year, thousands of athletes across the country go hard strength training all off season just to hit the championship series and post season and run out of gas and be “almost good enough”.
They go hard for 4 months and dominate the beginning and middle of the season. But during month 3 or 4 of the season, they start fatiguing out, get tired, and their times and performances get stagnant. Some even get hurt.
They not only stopped getting stronger, they got weaker.
At the same time, the intensity of practice is much higher prepping for their championship series than practice was in the beginning of the season.
For example, in the Junior Olympic series the intensity of June practices preparing for championship races is much higher than practice was in April when they were getting in shape. But because they stopped training, some of their bodies weren’t taking on to the training as well as the athletes who never stopped training.
Many of you may actually find that a normal cycle for you or be reluctant to strength train or have your kids strength train in season. It’s seen as “too much added stress” on the athlete. If done wrong, yes. But when done well, it’s a tool that helps an athlete get the best out of their championship series.
Again, why do athletes strength train?
- Decrease injury risk of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia. Them getting stronger helps them handle the stress of training. Most soft tissue injuries are due to the structures not being strong enough to handle the workload as well as poor technique.
Being weak can also cause your technique to fall apart sooner in a race. You have to be strong enough to maintain good technique when running at your fastest pace for a race.
- Increase power per step, jump, cut. Being more powerful allows for more distance to be covered per movement. This also increases endurance because it takes less energy to cover each movement.
A strong 800m runner will use less energy to run than a weaker one allowing them to have a faster time.
Now, strength doesn’t work in isolation. Random strong people aren’t going to be good athletes! This is about athletes already practicing and working hard.
Now 2 very important things to note about strength:
- The longer you’ve been training, the slower you lose it.
- You lose strength faster than you gain it.
If you’ve only been training consistently for 6 months, you’ll be back to square one in a couple or a few months if you stop.
If you’ve been consistently training for 6 years, it’ll take several months to a couple years before you fall back to square one.
Back to the championship series.
So we understand that it’s important to train through the season.
Off season training in the gym can be grueling. In season training in your sport is grueling. 2 grueling training sessions through the week and you’d need 12 hours of sleep to recover!
Well lucky for you, it doesn’t take a lot of strength work in season to maintain and even improve strength. The big issue with in season training is not being sore for your actual practice.
For runners 1-2x a week of strength training is good enough to help them build & maintain strength through the season. And if you’ve been training for months, you can still push and get more powerful.
And you don’t need 1-2 hours of training. You can get what you need in 30-45min! I do an hour, but in season, only 30-40min of it is really weight training.
Here are some recommendations for in season training based on what I do with athletes in season:
- do less exercises and focus on developing high level power through our exercises that best transfer to playing
- do more plyometrics: explosive body weight and light weight exercises to make them more powerful
- single joint, light weight, high rep exercises to keep joints healthy without adding too much stress
- focus on recovery & regeneration. My job is to make sure they can have the best practices & competitions possible, so if it takes an entire session to help their bodies get their bodies ready to train tomorrow, that’s what we do. Simply going home and sleeping may be okay for average folks but not high performers with big goals
- whatever specifically needs to be done to move the needle forward for them.
This allows an athlete to still get stronger through the season to be more explosive, have better endurance, and not get hurt. In order to be at your best at the end of the season, you have to keep creating an environment that allows them to perform at their best.
In season strength work is a key part.
If you’re interested in seeing how you specifically should be training during this current track season or the upcoming ultimate season, shoot me a reply and let’s talk!