Mastering In-Season Training

There are 3 major take aways for mastering in-season training:

  • Do not stop training.
  • Strength train at least once per week.
  • Train heavy at times.

There are more factors that go into an effective off-season training program, but these are 3 big ones. Here at Elite Speed Sports Performance we see athletes all too often stop training during their competitive season – despite our encouragements to continue training.

Dont: Stop Training!

Detraining starts around 10-14 days for endurance athletes and strength/power athletes. (1,2) Detraining is defined by Dr. Bosquet and Dr. Mujika as, “A partial or complete loss of training induced anatomical, physiological and performance adaptations, as a consequence of training reduction or cessation.” Basically if you don’t use it, you lose it. Through their research they have found that it doesn’t take long for an athlete to lose the adaptations gained from training. (1)

VO2 max , a major contributor in endurance performance, decreases exponentially with the duration of training cessation. Endurance factors begin to decline, as much as 6%, just 10 to 14 days after a break in training, and as much as 25% at 28 days and beyond. (1)

Strength athletes also have to deal with the detraining monster coming to steal their gainz starting as soon as 14 days. Some studies have found elite athletes have been able to fight off detraining as long as 28 days. It’s widely accepted that a break of 2-4 weeks will kick start the detraining process. (1,2)

Do: Keep Lifting!

Most studies recommend training at minimum 1 time per week during the season. With strength & power sports, many sources say 2 times per week strength training is optimal.

Another study conducted by Dr. Mujika found that a resistance training protocol combined with sport specific movements was more effective at maintaining or improving performance metrics than sprinting alone in season. (3) This study was conducted by only training 1 day per week.

Another study was conducted with professional level soccer players who participated in 1 strength training session a week. The group that performed the strength session performed better on leg strength and sprint speed than the group that did not.

  • “In conclusion, performing 1 weekly strength maintenance session during the first 12 weeks of the in-season allowed professional soccer players to maintain the improved strength, sprint, and jump performance achieved during a preceding 10-week preparatory period. On the other hand, performing only 1 strength maintenance session every second week during the in-season resulted in reduced leg strength and 40-m sprint performance”

So what this is saying is that 4 sessions in a month is enough, but 2 is not! Training needs to be consistent to be effective!

Do: Train Heavy!

A study involving American football players conducted by Hoffman and Kang found that athletes lifting weights greater than or equal to 80% of their pre-testing max actually increase strength during season. (5)

This means that it’s okay to load the bar up. It’s okay to be sore from time to time. However, the emphasis shifts during an in season training protocol to make sure that the athlete is ready come game day. Games are more important during this phase, but training can not be stopped for significant period of time without the loss of performance factors.

1. Bosquet and Mujika. Exerpt from Chapter 10 in Detraining.
2. 2015. Detraining Effect in Footballers.
3. Mujika, Iñigo; Santisteban, Juanma; Castagna, Carlo. In-Season Effect of Short-Term Sprint and Power Training Programs on Elite Junior Soccer Players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:December 2009 – Volume 23 – Issue 9 – pp 2581-2587
4. Rønnestad, Bent R; Nymark, Bernt S; Raastad, Truls. Effects of In-Season Strength Maintenance Training Frequency in Professional Soccer Players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: October 2011 – Volume 25 – Issue 10 – pp 2653-2660.
5. Hoffman, Jay R.; Kang, Jie. Strength Changes During an In-Season Resistance-Training Program for Football. February, 2003. NSCA Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.