Should you lift weights during football season?

There is a common misconception among many athletes, particularly football players, to drop the weights once the season kicks off.

In fact, regardless of the sport, a strategically planned, appropriate in-season strength and conditioning program is essential for aiding the athlete and team to finish the season as strong as they began it.

In the off-season, athletes will train hard three to five days per week, making strength and size gains.  If they abruptly go from five to zero training days as the season begins, it will only be a matter of time when they start to feel weaker, smaller and overall more beat-up from the demands of their sport.

Consider the following five points to guide you on how to set-up your own in-season program.

1. Frequency: With school schedules, practice schedules, game days and life in general, one or two training sessions will be manageable for the athlete to get in and train.  Any more than that and the training could start to interfere with their overall recovery ability and performance on the field.  The best day to train would be probably on the second day after their game day.  This way they can recover from battle and still be fresh for their next game.

2. Exercise Selection:  Now is not the time to introduce anything new that they athlete doesn’t know how to perform.  Select one movement to address each goal of the in-season (maintain: power, strength and size).  Power: a jump variation or a clean/snatch variation that the team uses in the off-season will be fine.  Strength: a deadlift variation (trap-bar). Muscle building: 1 or 2 movements can be used.  Bent-over rows superset with bodyweight rear flies is a great combo for their mid- and upper-backs.

3. Volume:  How much should you do? Power- 1 set of 1-5 reps, Strength- 3 sets of 3, Muscle-3 sets of 8-12 reps. It should not be a 2-hour grueling workout; quick and to the point is the goal.  Try to keep the workout down to about 30 minutes.

4. Nutrition:  With such a constant high-energy demand for the athlete day in day out, it is critical to have an eating plan that helps restore and fuel the body.  Don’t stock up on crap foods that will leave your body feeling sluggish and weak.  Veggies, sweet potatoes and brown rice are great carb sources. Eggs and meats are great for healthy fats and protein.

5. Remember the Goal: In a “more is better” lifestyle we have, remember that the goal of the in-season program is to help you recover and retain what you gained in the off-season. Stick to the plan of 1-2 workouts and you will still be good to go.  Finish the season strong, when it counts the most.

Scott Doane Strength and Performance coach and owner of BeSTRONG Training Systems; a private training facility designed for enhancing your fitness and performance. He has trained a variety of athletes of all ages and levels ranging from middle-school to professional. Find him online at BeStrongTrainingSystems.com

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