Should I Workout During My Season?
We work with a lot of lacrosse and baseball players at Adapt, so a very common question we get this time of year is “Should I Workout During The Season?” or something along those lines.The answer is emphatically yes.
I get it. There are so many obstacles when it comes to in-season training, including lack of time, energy, worried about fatigue, and even costs, but I wholeheartedly believe that athletes should continue strength training in season if they can. Working out during the season has, in my experience, led to many athletes having their best seasons ever. If you stop working out during the season, you may miss out on having the best season of your career for a number of reasons, which I’ll explain below.
First, The Why
Reason 1: Reversibility
If you stop training, all the progress and strength gains made are going to be lost. It takes about 4 weeks, give or take, to lose any progress you have made. What this means is once you start your sport, by the time you get to mid-season or end season, you will be no better off than before you started training if you only trained in the off season. The middle/end of the season is often the most critical part of the season because of playoffs and conference matches. If you want to feel the best during this period, you owe it to yourself to continue training throughout the season so you can be at your best when it really counts.
Reason 2: Injury Prevention
Strength training is the #1 way to stay healthy during the sport season. There is a quote which is love, which is “Your best ability is your availability”. If you are constantly hurt, you won’t be able to help your team. You might be the most athletic, agile athlete on the field, but if you are always hurt you will never be able to play when it counts. Strength training will help keep you healthy so you are able to showcase your talents all throughout the season. Ample research shows that strength training in the off-season and in-season periods is the best way to prevent injuries on the field.
In addition, maintaining strength training helps athletes do other stuff well that they might not otherwise do. Before a workout, they will be foam rolling and performing joint mobility and activation work, which can help to maintain range of motion throughout the season. Athletes will also usually have better sleep, recovery, and nutrition habits when they are in the habit of going to the weight room during the season.
Reason 3: Long Term Athletic Development
The third and final reason that I urge you to continue training in-season is for the long term athletic development aspect. For young athletes and those aspiring to compete at the college level, it is especially crucial to keep in mind you are still growing and developing and will be playing for many years to come. Don’t just think about this season right now, but rather, take some time to think about long term goals for your athletic career. Understand that only training during the offseason will put you at a disadvantage because you can only train 3-6 months out of the year. However, if you continue during the in-season period, you now have 12 months in the year to develop and if you consistently do this for 4 years throughout high school, you have 1 extra year of training under your belt compared to someone who only trained during the offseason.
Don’t you think that is a huge advantage come recruiting time when you know that every little bit of edge can help you get that scholarship?
How To Train During The In-Season Period
In-season training is a different beast than off-season training. The good news is that it is not an all or nothing mentality. You can continue to maintain, or even make progress in minimal time if you structure your workouts properly. I will say that you are at a big advantage if you’ve laid out a nice foundation in the off-season period.
Focus On What You're Not Getting
1. Focus on what you’re not getting out on the field. If you are a lacrosse or soccer player, and you run a lot, you don’t have to do too much sprint work because you should already be doing enough to maintain your speed and agility. If you’re playing a good number of minutes during games, it is probably also unnecessary to do much, if any, conditioning in the weight room. Instead, focus on what you’re not getting on the field. Things like strength training through full range of motion, mobility work, core and joint stability work will all go a long ways to keeping you healthy and strong throughout the entire season.
Decrease Frequency Compared To Off-Season Training
2. Decrease frequency compared to off-season training. In the off-season, I’ll recommend that most athletes should train between 3-4 days a week. 2 is the very minimum. However, 1-2 is the range for in season athletes. If you can get in 2, please try. However, 1 day a week is ALWAYS better than nothing. You won’t be able to make much progress on 1, but you will be able to maintain most of your progress, which is way better than nothing.
Intensity Over Volume
3. Finally, focus on intensity rather than volume. Intensity is the weight on the bar, or intent of the exercise. Volume is how many sets and reps you do. Higher volume can help to pack on muscle and build strength in the off season, but this will also fatigue your body in season. Instead, focus on higher intensities with less sets and reps. You shouldn’t be training to failure. Leave 2-3 reps “in the tank” in-season, but lift decent loads with less volume to keep you feeling strong and fresh for games.
If you want more specific advice on exactly how frequently or intensely you should be working out during your season, you can CLICK HERE to chat with a world class performance coach about your individual needs.
In addition, we've also got some great free PDFs that have more information about in season training. Check out THIS PAGE to download the best one for your sport.