Bustin’ your butt in the off season is a waste of time if you can’t maintain that strength and power during the season.
As you’ll see today, the philosophy behind your in season football training should be a little different than your off season regimen.
Disclaimer: If anything you read contradicts what your strength and conditioning coach preaches, make sure you consult with him/her prior to deciding to change up your routine.
In Season Football Training is All About Maintenance
I hate to be “Captain Obvious” here, but I think it’s important to know that you’re never going to be as fresh physically as you are when you first arrive at training camp.
The stress you put on your body during camp and the season makes it next to impossible to maintain the physical condition you have when you report to camp.
With this in mind, your in season football training should be designed to help you maintain 90 percent of the size, strength, and power you developed during the off season.
If you play at a bigger school, you probably have a good quality strength and conditioning staff that adjusts your in season training accordingly.
But I know from experience that smaller schools tend to be financially challenged.
Sometimes those financial limitations keep them from being able to hire a good quality strength and conditioning staff that makes sure players are following an in season football training regimen that helps them maintain their power and size.
Limit Physical Stress
The physical nature of football puts your muscles and nervous system through quite a bit of stress throughout the course of the season.
To compensate for this, there should be a noticeable drop-off in the intensity of your in season football training, when compared with your off season regimen.
This philosophy should help you keep from putting too much stress on your muscles and central nervous system during the season.
If you overwork your muscles and nervous system, it can make you susceptible to injuries, and your performance level will take a hit.
Maintain Your Bodyweight
You want to make sure you’re maintaining your bodyweight throughout the season.
If you lose muscle and bodyweight, you’ll lose strength, which inevitably leads to a drop in your power (and lower energy levels), so you want to weigh yourself regularly throughout the season.
You don’t want to lose anymore than 5 percent of what you weighed when you reported to camp; unless your strength and conditioning staff and coaches put you on a plan to lose weight for some reason, of course.
Less Time in the Gym
During the season, you shouldn’t be in the gym nearly as long as you were in your off season training.
As a rule of thumb, training to maintain strength and size should only require about a third of the work you put in during the off season.
It takes more work to build strength and size, than it does to maintain it.
During the season, you want to stay within 10 percent of your 1 rep max numbers. To make sure you’re maintaining your strength, you should consider testing those 1 rep maxes (1RM) periodically to make sure you’re staying within 10 percent of your max numbers.
So if you repped 225 25 times while you were in camp, you should be able to do about 21 or 22 reps anytime throughout the season.
>>Related: Training for the 225lb. Bench Press Test
Rest and sleep is crucial.
One of the commonalities between in season and off season training is that you want to deliberately do things that speed-up and aid recovery.
Again, with all the stress you’re putting on your body, if you want to be close to 100 percent on game day, sleep and focusing on recovery are crucial.
Best of luck this season, gentlemen.
Does your school’s strength and conditioning staff stress the importance of the topics mentioned above? Leave a comment below.
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REFERENCES: The Effects of Muscular Fatigue (livestrong.com)
Maintaining Strength During the Season by Kelly Baggett (enhancedfp.com)
The Side-Effects of Losing Weight Too Quickly (livestrong.com)