At Train Heroic, we want to dispel the notion that athletes should not workout in-season. Strength coaches and sport coaches who eliminate or drastically reduce weight room work in-season are doing their athletes an incredible disservice.
Over the course of a long competitive season, an athlete who worked very hard during the off-season to build strength and power may lose these important qualities if weight training ceases. Then, at the end of he season, when these attributes would definitely serve the athlete well in the most meaningful competitions, the athlete instead finds him or herself in their weakest, most injury prone state of the year. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU! Keep training all year. If you have busted your butt in the off-season, you will be able to handle a decent amount of work in-season outside of your sport commitments (practices, gams etc...)
That said, it is indeed imperative to take into account all of your sport training demands when figuring out what to include for your in-season strength and conditioning program. Train Heroic's philosophy is that you still lift heavy weights periodically to maintain (if not improve) strength levels and that you continue with some "repetition" work in order to maintain muscle mass and to assist in recovery. You will just end up doing these things less frequently, with less overall volume (days, sets and reps), than in the off-season. Sprinkle in good warmups, mobility work and some quick twitch drills and there is no reason an athlete can't improve their athletic ability over the course of the season. At the end of the season, this athlete will be ready to DOMINATE instead of struggling to keep up.
In-Season Training: Train Heroic Style and Approach
On a weekly basis, the implementation of our Train Heroic in-season philosophy looks like this:
- We strive to get two workouts done each week, on whatever days best accommodate the athlete’s practice and game schedule. As a general rule, lifts that emphasize the lower body are done earlier in the week (furthest from the game) and upper body work is completed later in the week, but not so close to prime-time as to hamper performance. For example, if Game Day is Friday, an athlete might hit the lower body on Monday and upper body on Tuesday or Wednesday. If games are Tuesday and Friday, then a Wednesday/Saturday lifting schedule might work well.
- With this 2 workout per week scheduling template, we rotate lifts through a three-week pattern. In Week One, athletes will complete a Max Effort Lower body day (ex: Monday) and a Repetition Upper body day (ex: Wednesday). These workouts will including the System Prep, CNS Activation, Technique, Explode (abbreviated) and Regeneration elements. The Speed and Blast The Doors Off segments are omitted and the Explode work is usually limited to 2 sets. For Week 2, the athlete will perform a Repetition Lower body workout (Monday) and a Max Effort Upper body workout (Wednesday), including the elements listed above but again omitting the Speed and Blast the Doors Off segments and reducing the Explode volume. Also, the Repetition Lower day often has a single leg emphasis (split squats, lunges etc…) Finally, Week 3 is a “Deload Week” and for both workouts, the athlete will do System Prep, CNS Activation, and Technique work followed by 3-4 light, smooth warmup sets of 5-8 reps on a major exercise for the lower body (Squat/Front Squat/Deadlift…) one day and upper body (DB Bench/Dips/Incline Bench…) the other day. There should be very little straining in these sets with just enough weight used to activate the muscles before the athlete shuts it down. These "light week" workouts finish with the Regeneration component and omit all other elements. On Week 4, the pattern starts over as in Week 1.
- Lastly, it is crucial athletes understand that while they should not stop working out in-season, they must make sure their workouts are not hampering performance. An in-season athlete must assess how they feel day to day and adjust workouts based on specific circumstances. For example, you might play both sides of the ball and special teams for your football team in an intense game against your rival, or play a triple overtime thriller in hoops and find you don't have much juice in your legs the next lifting day. Well, just because a heavy lower body lift is prescribed doesn't mean you have to go in and pile on the fatigue. Maybe do a lighter, higher repetition day. Maybe focus on upper body stuff. Or do the System Prep, CNS Activation and Regeneration and get out of the weight room to get food and rest. I’ll often ask athletes just to get going on the workout, get through the warmup and start on the working sets. If they feel like trash at this point we’ll switch things up. There will be other days when they feel good and can hit it hard then. Athletes must know their body, recovery abilities and what they need to do to perform at their best.
This in-season template provides a very workable plan to keep athletes at their peak through the season. Then, it's up to each athlete or coach to modify it to their own specific needs.