As we gear up for the first week of the Fall Sports season, many of our athletes are coming off a great summer of getting stronger, moving better, and maximizing their physical potential.
If there’s no plan to at least maintain strength during the season, the progressive running, long practices, the physical and mental stress will begin to take it’s tole on the body.
School, transportation logistics, homework and daily practices can make an in-season strength training program difficult to maintain.
How to balance sufficient recovery time between the mental stress of school, the physical stress of practices and games and then try to add in a lifting session can be difficult.
Not applying time to an in-season strength training program happens all too often for the reasons I mentioned above.
Here’s some interesting research on how long strength levels can be retained. Research by McMaster et al. (2013) found that after 3 weeks of training cessation, male field-sport athletes strength levels declined.
It was also noted that strength can be built or maintained in as few as two workouts per week.
Meylan et al. (2013) reported that the rate of strength decline may differ for youth athletes depending on their age. Athletes who have not hit their growth spurt lost more strength and lost it quicker compared to adolescent athletes who have hit their growth spurt.
In the Journal of Sports Sciences (2013) looked at the recovery rate of football (soccer) skill performance following a strength training session in trained male soccer players.
The players performed a high intensity workout (4 sets of 4-6 repetitions with 85-90%)
At the following time markers – pre, post and 24, 48 and 72 hours, researchers assessed soccer skill performance through the Loughborough Soccer Passing Test, long passing, dribbling, shooting and heading at following the workout.
Blood samples were also collected for determine muscle damage and inflammation.
It was suspected and concluded that soccer skill performance markers decreased immediately following the strength training session.
However, by 24 hours post-workout, skill markers returned to baseline levels. Mild muscle damage and inflammatory response was observed through the blood draws.
This is just one study that suggests strength training sessions can occur as close to 24 hours before a competition or practice while having minimal impact on a sport skill and overall performance.
This can be important for sport coaches to understand and try to allot for strength training time during the season. It’s clearly understood strength training has on performance enhancement as well as the injury prevention. The ability to maintain an in-season strength program should be a priority for the player, parent and coaching staff. Maintaining strength throughout the season, in as few as two strength workouts per week, can sufficiently reduce strength loss that can occur due to training cessation during a competitive season.
Here are 3 simple but effective ways to maintain strength during the season.
- Maintain Body Weight (Lean Body Mass)
Here at CSF, we can put 5, 10, and sometimes 15 pounds of lean body mass on athletes which allows them to increase their force production, take on contact, and build a body that will resist injury.
You can name just about any sport, and success comes to those who exhibit greater Ground Reaction Forces (GFD). In youth sports strength is the limiting factor which inhibits their ability to produce large amounts of force (speed, change of direction, striking etc.)
Weigh yourself consistently during the season. Stop in to see us to get your lean body mass tested to make sure you’re not losing muscle. Make sure to bring food with you to school and before practice and stay properly hydrated. If you have not received our teen nutrition blueprint please reach out to us so we can get it to you.
2. Understand mental and physical stress.
Most understand the physical stress of an athlete. However, the mental stress of studying, homework, family, friends, relationships etc. can take it’s toll very quickly. If Monday through Saturday you’re wrapped up in high school sports, use Sunday as a day to decompress. That doesn’t mean go play or practice with your club team! This is exactly what you probably need. Recover so you can set yourself up for a successful week. Not taking care of your recovery through sleep, nutrition, and lifestyle, your body’s ability to adapt to stress will be reduced.
The long term effects of fighting physical and mental stress will have long term ramifications on the success of your season and possibly the next season as well.
3. Be OK with 20-30
During the summer or off-season workouts can take 60-90 minutes. In-season lifts 2x’s / week that last between 20-30 minutes will ensure that the quality of your workout is high:
A typical in-season 30-minute session could be as follows:
A1) Deadlift 3×3
A2) Hip stability band work, 3 sets
A3) Core, 3 sets
B1) Single-Leg Exercise, 3 sets
B2) Upper-Body Push, 3 sets
B3) Upper-Body Pull, 3 sets
C1) Foam Rolling and Mobility work as directed
Having a daily mobility routine (the one you might have done all summer) as part of pre- and post-practice routine can keep you mobile and and allow your body to more efficiently use the physical qualities mentioned above in the strength program. Give yourself five minutes before and after every on-field session. This will help prevent overuse-related mobility concerns that can creep up throughout the season.
If your not local during the school season, not to worry. We can help you with our virtual coaching platform which can address any type to training and nutrition programing. Interest, please text VIRTUAL COACHING to 413-238-1339.