I was approached by an athlete asking to skip lifting because there was a game the next day.  This person did not want to feel fatigued and worn out for the game.  Or that is what I’m guessing.

This is a very common thought among people who are not “in the know,” but new research is suggesting the contrary.

Nowadays, sports are so specialized and demanding that getting the amount of trainings in to illicit proper physical change in an athlete is tough.  You don’t necessarily have a defined off-season anymore for a significant amount of time.

Michael Jordan, and a lot of basketball players for that matter, used to do workouts hours before games.  Definitely after games.  He had to.  The season was so long, he had to stay strong and keep fit for the ultimate prize which was the NBA Championship.  Once the season starts, capturing that is usually 7-8 months away.

There is NO WAY you cannot workout for 7-8 months and keep your same physical levels – strength, speed, jumping ability, etc.

Knowing that, you have to understand what is important.  Yes, playing the games are key, but you have to get your workouts in when you can.  Sometimes that means before or after games.  Didn’t seem to hinder MJ’s production.

How does that figure in to your normal athlete, in particular the one I referenced in the opening paragraph?

Track is in its indoor season right now.  Indoor is fun and the meets are competitive, but every high school athlete’s goal is getting on top of the podium for the state outdoor track meet in June.  We are just starting February now.  That is a way’s away.

I view indoor meets (and a lot of outdoor meets) as glorified workouts.  Thus, we are still in the off-season.

That being said, it is an opportunity to continue to do your off-season strength program so you can improve your strength.  This will help improve your power and ultimately your speed.

This is NO TIME to skip lifting workouts just so you can perform well in a glorified workout.  Do you want to run your absolute best now or when it counts at the state meet in June??

Case in point, I had one of my sprinters maintain her offseason lifting schedule of 3x/week.  With a Saturday meet, that means you have to lift Friday so you can get Sunday off for complete recovery.

We changed NOTHING!

Stuck to the plan.  At around 120 pounds, she deadlifted 230 for a few reps as part of her workout.  The other lifts she did that day were equally heavy.  The next day she ran in the meet and low and behold she runs a time that ties her for 3rd in the state for the 60M dash.

I know what you are thinking.  If I had just let her skip the workout, she probably could have run faster.  Where is that eye roll emoji??

First, you have to know what the ultimate goal is and what you need to do to be at peak condition for that goal.  That being said, you need to understand you might have to lift the day of the game.  It will not negatively affect performance as bad as you think.  But, it will definitely be a building block for you to be better three or four months down the road.

Once you get to in-season, you have to keep lifting, but it is altered.  And that is where your strength coach will come in to do that adjusting.  With my sprinter, we will probably back down to 2x/week once meets actually start.

The season is just 5 weeks long before we get into the tournament run.  At that point, I might back down to 1x/week, but only maybe the regional and state meet run.

Stick to the plan.  Trust the process.

Oh by the way, that sprinter lifted the day before a meet just this past weekend.  Set a new PR, broke a school record, second overall in the race against the state’s (and neighboring state’s) top talent, and now second in the state rankings.