T Nation

Training for Inseason Athletes


I figured since I've always made my best gains by following your training systems I might as well give it a shot and ask what kind of training principles do you follow when training your inseason athletes. Suppose one has only time to hit the gym once or twice a week, what should their workouts look like to maintain what strenght and power has been gained during the "offseason"? Would you favor more less taxing training sessions or one or two "regular" training sessions a week? Your advice will be greatly appriciated so thanks in advance!


Well it depends on the sport and what exercises the athlete is comfortable with. For one thing I wouldn't include any unfamiliar exercises during the season. I really like the simpler versions of the olympic lifts (power snatches from blocks/hang and power clean from blocks/hang) to maintain power during the season, you don't need much 3-5 work sets of 3-5 once or twice per week with a moderate weight focusing on explosiveness. However if the individual is not familiar with the olympic lifts it is not a good idea to put them into in-season training.

As I mentioned, it depends on the sport being practiced. Someone who plays baseball and someone who plays hockey will not have the same capacities. For example, baseball is more a skill sport that doesn't cause too much muscle fatigue. So one can easily train the legs using basic strength movements fairly hard during the season however a hockey player who puts a very high demands on his legs every day can't do that. On the other hand, baseball players are more at risk of shoulder injuries, so heavy upper body pressing work is not a good idea during the season, shoulder work should focus more on injury prevention.

Furthermore I believe that one of the mistakes made by coaches with in-season athletes is working movement patterns and physical capacities that are already heavy involved in the sport practiced. The biggest mistake is when a coach has basketball players do tons of plyometrics work during the season when the athletes are already doing a lot of jumping every single day.

IMHO in-season training is about maintaining performance level in the specific patterns and preventing injuries by training movements opposite to those used in competition. For example in hockey the players tend to always lean forward when they skate and have their shoulders rounded forward, plus, the skates are fairly heavy which make the hip flexors work hard on every stroke. So abs, posterior chain and upper back strenghtening work is important during the season and so is high flexor and shoulder mobiity work.


Great stuff, thanks! How about combat sports, especially striking arts? Movement patterns in sport are mostly about pushing (punching and kicking), hitting the legs hard on training days takes a toll in the sport training later in the day. Some roadwork will also be involved for conditioning. Throwing lots of punches on daily basis also takes a bit of a toll on your elbows, is that something you would consider before having the athlete do OL variations?

To give you example of my situation, I train thaiboxing, once my gym starts running on normal schedule one couple of weeks I'll be training 6 days a week, about 2hrs per session. Schedule will look something like
Mon AM Roadwork, PM 2hrs of MT
Tue AM Off/1 hr of MT, PM 1,5hrs of MT
Wed AM Off, PM 1,5hrs of sparring
Thu AM Roadwork, PM 2,5hrs of MT
Fri AM Off, PM 2hrs of MT
Sat AM 2,5hrs of MT, PM Off/lifting
Sun AM/PM Lifting

So that would leave me with one day I could dedicate for lifting and maybe odd morning here and there when I can make time to hit the gym. I'm not good at OL, I "can" clean but I believe its too much of a muscle clean to really get the desired training effect and I have my doubts about how well my elbows might hold up since I've never really figured out how to properly get the bar from the shoulders down to hang without getting sore elbows after few sessions. Obviously something I should probably work on next summer. Would something similiar like 3-5 worksets of 3-5reps with moderate weight focusing on explosiveness work with front squats or deadlifts, followed up by some rowing and weighted ab work? What, if any, upperbody pushing should I do to maintain my upperbody strength?