Strength maintenance work for competitive athletes Strength maintenance work for competitive athletes

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Thread: Strength maintenance work for competitive athletes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    15

    Default Strength maintenance work for competitive athletes

    Hi Coach,

    For competitive power or endurance athletes who want to maximize performance during a peak competition phase (maybe 3-4 weeks), what is the best way to go about maintaining strength, assuming they are around the capability of an advanced-novice?

    A potentially useful example: a sprinter who wants to focus on championship races at the very end of a season. Does he or she keep doing three sets of five, while holding the workset weight constant (i.e. keep volume and intensity the same)? Or does something like a single set of five at a weight higher than that of his or her previously accomplished 5x3 workset weight make sense (i.e. lower volume, higher intensity?).

    Or perhaps neither of my two questions above are useful because a novice, even an advanced one, can recover relatively quickly and thus should not be maintaining for a period of multiple weeks? Maybe only the most important races should render maintenance work from an athlete who is still a novice.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Lansing, MI
    Posts
    83

    Default

    Hey Kyle,

    I coach a lot of athletes in my gym from a variety of sports including hockey, track, cross-country, basketball, football, wrestling, and baseball. Most of the athletes I've worked with play at a high school or college level, although I do work with a lot of weekend warriors as well.

    My experience is that this situation really depends on the individual. There are a lot of factors to consider. First, does the lifter know what they are doing and have they run a decent novice progression? If not, than that needs to be addressed or everything else is irrelevant. In my experience when dealing with athletes it is rare to find one that has been coached anywhere close to their full strength potential, so most of them can make good progress in-season while playing their sport doing the novice LP as long as the eat well and take care of themselves.

    If they have 'done the program' correctly and are at an advanced novice level of strength than it is going to still depend of a lot of things, but generally speaking they will probably have to slow down progression and work more at an 85-90% range of intensity for most of their sessions. In most of the athletes I work with in-season training is more about fighting to maintain strength rather than building it. Routine injuries and lack of recovery often get in the way from making optimal progress, so you just have to do the best that you can. When the sport is the priority, depending how physically demanding the sport is, you don't want to waste too much valuable time in the weight room when you could be practicing or recovering from competition.

    Most athletes I work with will train 2-4 days a week. If it is 4 they will usually do a split of either upper/lower or squat/pressing and pulls. I usually try to get my athletes to squat at least 1-2 times per week, press or bench 1-2 times a week, pull heavy 1 time, and snatch and power clean during most training sessions. Again, this all depends on the individual. I have had luck with sprinters and other power athletes dropping down to heavy doubles instead of fives and keeping their intensity pretty high. I have seen determined athletes make great progress on a few sessions a week of heavy doubles on each of the big lifts, but they were already pretty strong and established a solid base in the off-season doing their fives.

    For progression in season I will usually have athletes do a HLM for 4 week, 8 week, or 12 week cycles. It depends on the sport. Often there are too many variables (injuries, illness, staleness, travel, extra practice, big games, etc) to have a strict program in place, so I like to instead have a pretty simple template in place and tweak it as we go along.

    The important part is to find a way to train, especially if the athlete isn't all that strong or hasn't been training for very long. I had an all-state running back with a 4.5 forty, 35in vert, and 10 foot broad jump tell me last week that he tested his broad jump during the football season when he was barely training and it dropped by almost a foot and half. When he hit over 10 feet for a college combine in the off-season we were squatting 3 times a week for work sets of five in the mid-400's. Strength is a big deal.

    Hopefully that helps a little. I would suggest reading Practical Programming as it spells out how to think about this stuff pretty clearly.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    15

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Kurisko View Post
    Hey Kyle,

    I coach a lot of athletes in my gym from a variety of sports including hockey, track, cross-country, basketball, football, wrestling, and baseball. Most of the athletes I've worked with play at a high school or college level, although I do work with a lot of weekend warriors as well.

    My experience is that this situation really depends on the individual. There are a lot of factors to consider. First, does the lifter know what they are doing and have they run a decent novice progression? If not, than that needs to be addressed or everything else is irrelevant. In my experience when dealing with athletes it is rare to find one that has been coached anywhere close to their full strength potential, so most of them can make good progress in-season while playing their sport doing the novice LP as long as the eat well and take care of themselves.

    If they have 'done the program' correctly and are at an advanced novice level of strength than it is going to still depend of a lot of things, but generally speaking they will probably have to slow down progression and work more at an 85-90% range of intensity for most of their sessions. In most of the athletes I work with in-season training is more about fighting to maintain strength rather than building it. Routine injuries and lack of recovery often get in the way from making optimal progress, so you just have to do the best that you can. When the sport is the priority, depending how physically demanding the sport is, you don't want to waste too much valuable time in the weight room when you could be practicing or recovering from competition.

    Most athletes I work with will train 2-4 days a week. If it is 4 they will usually do a split of either upper/lower or squat/pressing and pulls. I usually try to get my athletes to squat at least 1-2 times per week, press or bench 1-2 times a week, pull heavy 1 time, and snatch and power clean during most training sessions. Again, this all depends on the individual. I have had luck with sprinters and other power athletes dropping down to heavy doubles instead of fives and keeping their intensity pretty high. I have seen determined athletes make great progress on a few sessions a week of heavy doubles on each of the big lifts, but they were already pretty strong and established a solid base in the off-season doing their fives.

    For progression in season I will usually have athletes do a HLM for 4 week, 8 week, or 12 week cycles. It depends on the sport. Often there are too many variables (injuries, illness, staleness, travel, extra practice, big games, etc) to have a strict program in place, so I like to instead have a pretty simple template in place and tweak it as we go along.

    The important part is to find a way to train, especially if the athlete isn't all that strong or hasn't been training for very long. I had an all-state running back with a 4.5 forty, 35in vert, and 10 foot broad jump tell me last week that he tested his broad jump during the football season when he was barely training and it dropped by almost a foot and half. When he hit over 10 feet for a college combine in the off-season we were squatting 3 times a week for work sets of five in the mid-400's. Strength is a big deal.

    Hopefully that helps a little. I would suggest reading Practical Programming as it spells out how to think about this stuff pretty clearly.

    Thank you so much, Chris! This is very helpful. And I have been moving slowly through Practical Programming but will make sure to keep on full steam ahead.

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