When I was a strength coach at Columbus Academy way back when, one of my biggest challenges was convincing coaches to do in-season lifting. There were a few teams that bought into it. Typically the football team, girls’ tennis, and maybe basketball. But, for the most part, I was ghosted.
I am now the head track coach at Bishop Watterson and during a recent coaches’ meeting our strength coach was stating his case to the coaches about in-season lifting. Apparently, he was going through the same issues I was 15 years ago.
In the private sector with my business, we tend to lose a lot of athletes during their sport season and I get it. Time is a factor. Between daily practices, travelling to games, and homework, it is hard to find time to do in-season training if it isn’t already built into your practice schedule.
But, you must find time.
For high school athletes, that time should be some type of weight training. Ideally, it should be set up through your team to do a team lift. Your in-season team coach should be bought in to the idea of in-season lifting so you don’t have to plan some type of lifting after practice.
Allow me to explain briefly why in-season lifting is oh, so important:
- If you stop lifting, you start losing a little bit of strength each week you don’t lift.
- Once you pass the 4 week mark, that little bit of strength loss now becomes a plummet.
That being said, if you stop lifting when your season starts that is usually the first day of practice. You probably play your first game 4 to 5 weeks later. If you stopped lifting, that is right around the point of time where your strength drops exponentially.
You spend all off-season making these big strength gains and by the time you play your first game, you have probably lost most of those gains.
You’ll play playoffs maybe 2 ½ to 3 months later. Imagine what your strength loss is at that point of time when you really want to be at the top of your game so you can go far in your tournament.
You are probably saying, “Alright dude, so what do you suggest?”
Glad you asked! Unless you are a professional athlete, you are probably not trying to continue to make strength gains during the season. You are probably just trying to maintain the gains you made in the off-season.
If that is the correct assumption, then the solution is simple. At a minimum, your muscles need to be taxed once a week at a moderately high intensity to maintain their strength levels.
Do a once a week workout hitting the total body. Do around 85% of your max for short reps (4-6) and you should be fine. Shouldn’t take you longer than 30 minutes at most.
Now that would be the bare minimum. I’d say ideally, if an athlete can lift twice a week during the season that would be best. But, if once is all you can muster and the routine is done correctly, then you should be fine.
The strength levels will stay throughout the season and you’ll be strong when you need it the most – PLAYOFFS.
Read this again. See if there is a way you can get one time a week to tax the nervous system and muscles to keep those strength gains. It also helps reduce your soreness from practices and reduce the chance for injuries if you maintain that strength.
A bunch of added bonuses. I know it isn’t easy, but in the end if you stop lifting, you will make your athlete potentially WORSE than what they could be if you modify the lifting program and continue to do it. Or at the very least, your athlete couldn’t be as good as probably what he/she could have been if you had continued in-season lifting.