If you are a Fall athlete, chances are you have already completed your preseason and the regular season has now begun. Many athletes struggle to maintain their normal strength training protocol throughout the course of the season because of either lack of time or their body is fatigued from practices and games. If you are in school all day and then have a two or three hour practice, by the time you get home and eat you probably still have a fair amount of school work to do. This is a pretty common occurrence amongst high school and even collegiate athletes. If you do have the time to go to the gym, your body is most likely beaten up and therefore needs a rest. One of the most overlooked areas of an athlete’s lifestyle is the recovery side of things. Many students overtrain and then when the game comes around they cannot perform at peak performance on the field. Here are some tips on how to maintain your strength training protocol throughout the season and play at optimum levels during the season.
The single most neglected area of an athlete’s training protocol is the nutritional side of things. Many will spend countless hours working on skills, strength training, and maybe flexibility. The best analogy I can use for nutrition is that your body is like a automobile, if you have no gas in the tank, you will not get very far in the vehicle. The same holds true for what types of food you put into your body will directly affect how you feel and perform on the field. You CANNOT be an ELITE athlete if you feed your body things such as soda and pop tarts. An athlete should be eating for their next three hours of activity, so on the days you are more active you require more calories. The best approach is to make sure you eat your three main meals breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with three other small snacks in between. This will keep your energy levels high and will allow you to maintain or even gain lean muscle tissue assuming you are in a positive caloric intake. As far as what to eat without going into a lengthy conversation, every time you eat you should have a combination of protein, fats, and carbs. You cannot do without any of the three without directly affecting your performance.
The next suggestion I have is to make sure that you are well hydrated. This means consuming water regularly throughout the day. A 1% decrease in hydration levels can directly affect athletic performance. Also, being dehydrated can trigger the brain to think that you are hungry when you are just really dehydrated. As the temperature rises outdoors, you should increase your water intake accordingly. A safe rule of thumb is to consume one 16oz bottle of water about every 2 to 3 hours as long as you are awake. In the middle of summer or a hot and steamy day you should double that recommendation to make sure your body gets all the water it needs.
Now that we have covered the fuel needed for workouts and recovery, let’s talk about strength training during the season. Most times athletes will utilize the off-season to add some more size or work on some areas that are lagging or need additional development. The in-season training protocol is about maintaining the ability to sustain and function through the season. This means that you do not need to be doing exceedingly heavy weights or workouts that are going to debilitate you for several days. I suggest using lighter weights and working on maintaining the strength that you have gained in the off-season throughout the regular season. You want to make sure that you are training all the muscle groups of the body, but at a more reasonable intensity than normal. You can also take this time to work on ligament tendon strength and mobility issues that may be causing you some issues. The goal of in-season training is to keep yourself strong on the field and most importantly healthy.
The last tip I have for in-season training is making sure you do things like foam rolling, stretching, and recovery. The foam rolling and stretching should be occurring almost daily during this time. The recovery side is equally as important as everything that has been spoken about up above. The body will always give your warning signs and it is your responsibility as an athlete to listen to these signal. If you are feeling a little under the weather or notice some aches and pain, take the day off or maybe two. The best athletes are the ones who do all of the things discussed up above. None of these tips are more important than another, they all play an intrical role in determining the success or failure of an individual. If you are struggling with injuries or need some help as far as implementing an effective training protocol, please contact Xcellerated Speed Training immediately.