Your off-season workout should help you recover from a long season and boost your performance for the next season. However, if you don’t have a plan, you can seriously impair your performance or waste valuable time that could be spent making you a better athlete. Follow this schedule to make the most out of your off-season training program.
Take it easy. It’s important to let your body completely recover after the season. However, this period cannot be too long, since you can begin to lose strength after only two weeks of not working out.
Think about your sport and the muscle groups you normally use, and find fun cross-training alternatives. This will give your overworked muscles the rest they need, while still challenging your athleticism. For example, if you play hockey, a good cross-training alternative is lacrosse.
Slowly start to incorporate strength training back into your workouts. Work out three times a week and cross-train twice a week for the next two weeks. At first, stick with total-body workouts of three sets of 10 to 15 reps with 30 seconds rest between sets to improve your muscle endurance and build your resistance to fatigue. This is also a good time to test your one-rep max for core lifts such as the Bench Press, Squat, Deadlift, and Olympic Lifts, thus determining your lifting volume for the rest of the off-season. Check out the STACK guideline on Getting Stronger.
End whatever cross-training activity you were performing and begin incorporating sport-specific drills back into your program. Strength training should focus on building muscle (hypertrophy). Complete four workouts per week featuring five sets of 8 to 12 reps and one minute of rest between sets.
Ramp up your off-season and begin simulating game speed and situations. Begin developing muscular power, which is essential for sports. Perform four workouts each week and focus on Cleans, Snatches, Push Presses and other explosive movements. Complete four sets of four to six reps with two minutes of rest between sets.
To avoid fatigue and overtraining, it’s important to taper off during the last two weeks before your season starts. During this phase, your workouts should be quick and to the point. Drop down to two workouts a week. Continue with power exercises such as Cleans and Snatches, but only at 60% of your one-rep max. Complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps with two minutes of rest between sets. Understand overtraining so you can avoid this costly mistake.
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