An Athlete works their tail off during the summer months, and in their off-season program. However, that is one phase of a four phase system. What about the other three phases? There are four phases to a strength and conditioning program, covering a 12-month span.
The four phases are:
Post-Season: Post season is just like it sounds; it’s that 2-8 week period after a sport season finishes up. This is used as a recovery time, with the possibility of slight hypertrophy. As an athlete you are pounded throughout the season with practices, games, double headers, and more. Your body is fatigued after the season, and you may have even sustained an injury. The post-season is the opportunity to recover from that injury, or fatigue. Rest up, and be ready to hit the off-season hard to see good results. Programming for our athletes include high volume, with a lower intensity. We are assuring they are injury free, implementing an injury prevention program, and making the workouts as non-sport specific as possible.
Off-Season: If you want to lift heavy, this is your time to shine. During the off-season phase of a program the goal is strength. We stick with a lower volume, and higher intensity, putting most of our multi-joint exercises in the 5-8 rep range. Staying away from sport specific motions, our goal is to take those recovered muscles and make them as strong as possible. Exercises like trap bar deadlift, squat variations, and heavy pressing are staples in this phase.
Pre-Season: The ultimate goal of periodization, or phasing a strength and conditioning program is to peak performance for the upcoming event, or season. During the pre-season we take those strong muscles we developed in the off-season, and put some power behind them. This is where we crank up the intensity, and drop the volume way down. Our rep range is in the 1-4 area. Here, you are definitely increasing the sport specificity of the program. To do this we incorporate not only sport specific resistance training motions, and medicine ball exercises, but their speed and agility program also gets more sport specific. For example we may have a lacrosse athlete cradle a ball while going through a ladder progression. This is the time to develop explosive movements. For our higher-level athletes lifts like cleans, swings, and band-resisted presses are foundational exercises.
In-season: These programs are vital to keep an athlete healthy during their sport, as they get crushed with practice after practice, game after game. In-season programming works a lot on maintaining that strength and power we developed pre-season. We work a lot on mobility, as injury tends to occur due to lack of mobility. We still keep a foundational strength component of 1-2 times a week with some horizontal push/pull combos, alongside some lower body strength training, and core strength. Unlike pre-season, we tend to stay away from medicine ball work, and replace that with some soft tissue work, or mobility work.
Here is a typical schedule of an in-season lacrosse player here at STS:
Monday: Practice followed by strength training
Thursday: Practice followed by strength training
As you can see the in-season program on our end of it, is usually about two days. However, those two days are crucial to an athletes program. The program may only last 45-50 minutes in-season, but those 45-50 minutes a couple of times a week is going to keep the athlete stronger, faster, more powerful, mobile, and must important, injury free!
A lot of coaches and athletes forget, or maybe are not simply educated on the importance an in-season strength and conditioning program. However, strength and conditioning is all about progressions, and moving forward. If you are not completing an in-season program off the field, you are really taking a large step backwards. What happens all too often is an athlete busts their butt during the off-season and pre-season. They then go off and play their sport and for whatever reason neglect their in-season program. What ends up happening is we get them back right at square one. They lose all that strength, power, stability, and mobility. So, in order to prevent that, getting in 1-3 sessions a week of strength and conditioning in-season is going to be extremely beneficial to the athlete for not only improvements, but injury prevention
What are you doing for your in-season program?
It has been an incredible summer here at Spurling Training Systems. We had to opportunity to get some great footage of our athletes. Please sit back, relax, turn up your speakers, and enjoy the best four minutes you will experience today.
This is our passion, this is our lives, this is what Spurling Training Systems is all about!
Doug Spurling, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
Spurling Training Systems, LLC
1 Colonel Gelardi Drive
Kennebunk, ME 04043
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