Strength Training for Athletes
Strength training as an athlete should be an integral part of an in-season programme. Yet it is often the first thing to go once weekly schedules become congested or unpredictable.
A lack or absence of in season training is the unfortunate reality for a lot of athletes and it often backfires – leaving athletes more sore after matches and events, weaker and less powerful as the season progresses and more susceptible to injury.
I coached full-time as a strength and conditioning coach in a number of universities in America from 2015-2021. My main task was to write programmes and coach workouts for sport teams. I always had 2-5 teams that were in season at any given time.
I have seen the benefits of in season training. It is almost like a WIN-WIN situation. Athletes that strength train in season can maintain or even improve strength and power while their competitors lose strength and power throughout the year. From a competitive standpoint, strength training in season can set athletes up for success when it matters most.
That is not to say that in season strength training is easy. It requires a commitment from athletes and coaches and it also requires a plan that allows for some last minute changes. I became an expert in this process as a strength and conditioning coach and now I want to share how you can effectively train in-season as an athlete.
How often should you train in-season as an athlete?
Sports that involve a lot of speed and power work should strength train more often than sports that are more endurance based. As an example, a sprinter might train two to three times per week whereas a long distance cyclist may only need one to two sessions per week to maintain strength and power.
As a generalisation, athletes should strength train two days per week while in-season. Now you might wonder – which days are best to train? In this next section I will answer that question.
When to train in season as an athlete?
If you know your competitive schedule weeks or months in advance you are very lucky. This will make the training process much easier. However, if you’re like most people, you probably don’t get much notice about upcoming games or competitions – so how do you train?
Let’s use an example
|1 day since match
6 days to next match
|2 days since match
5 days to next match
|3 days since match
4 days to next match
|3 days to next match
|2 days to next match
|1 day to next match
We understand that an athlete could be somewhat constrained with when they can strength train due to sport or other training commitments. However, let’s continue with the example above.
- Sunday – unlikely to be a great day to train. The athlete could have some soreness or low impact injury from the Saturday match.
- Monday – maybe some lingering soreness.
- Tuesday – should be a good option to train.
- Wednesday – mid-point between the previous and next game. This has potential to be a great training day.
- Thursday- could be a good option to train provided the reps are low and no excessive lower body strain.
- Friday- is possible to train but must use caution.
We now have a number of training options
- Tuesday & Thursday
- Tuesday & Friday
- Wednesday & Thursday
- Wednesday & Friday
How to Strength Train as an Athlete In Season
There are three typical goals with strength training. These are
- Goal 1: training for power, speed or strength
- Goal 2: training for hypertrophy or muscle size
- Goal 3: training for endurance
Training primarily for power or speed should not lead to much soreness after a workout. However, training for hypertrophy or endurance can lead to excessive soreness which could impact your weekly training plan.
Now that you understand this premise, you will see that it makes the most sense to put hypertrophy focused workouts far away from your next match or event, and that you should be able to train for power, speed or strength much closer to your next match or event.
With that in mind, I like the idea of using Tuesday as a hypertrophy focused workout which leaves Friday as a power focused workout.
Strength training as an athlete in-season requires a big commitment. If you want to be at your strongest and physically dominant in the latter part of your season you must strength train consistently.
Gym workouts should have a single focus each day and should be much shorter than off-season strength and conditioning sessions. Two sessions each week should be enough for most athletes to at least maintain strength and power throughout the year.
Semi-Private Training in Waterford
We help develop and implement specific in-season strength and conditioning programmes for in-season athletes through our semi-private training programmes. If you’re stuck for time, want to make progress throughout the season without overtraining or need adjustments to your workout due to injury – we can help. Send us a message to enquire about our semi-private training option.