One of the most oft asked questions by a majority of athletes is how to train in-season. In-season training is perhaps one of the most overlooked components of an athlete’s training. In western periodization literature, there is clearly a strong push for increasing size and strength within a general preparation cycle and a major peak for an event. However, this system is flawed for athletes who compete in sports that require multiple peaks of performance over a given season. Football, Soccer, Hockey, Basketball, Baseball, Rugby, Lacross, Field Hockey, and Volleyball seasons all usually consist of multiple “peaks” during a competitive season. If an athlete is using western style periodization they may peak their performance right before the season, and attempt to maintain their gains throughout the rest of the season.
Bigger, Faster, Stronger founder Greg Shepard in his book of the same title explains the need for in-season training stating the fact that generally most high school level athletes play multiple sports. Within that context if the sports coach neglects or puts training on maintenance levels, the athlete may not reach full potential. As a result short changing themselves in higher-level athletics (college, etc). However if the athlete works to improve their strength/power/hypertrophy (size) during the season, the end result is an explosion of strength and size gains in the off-season program due to the increased neural efficiency and (sometimes) slight increase in size.
In an in-season program, the training splits must be worked in around the sports specific training, even if that means working out two days consecutively. Typical in-season programs are generally 2-3 sessions, and a goal of no longer than 45 minutes to an hour in the gym (that includes warm ups, flexibility, core training). The training split can be a mix between upper and lower body movements or can be separated into upper body and lower body sessions. You might be asking right now, how exactly do you set up in-season sessions. Well, here it goes… College athlete influencers
It is generally acknowledged that there are three ways in which to improve concentric strength…
1. The Maximal Effort Method- Lifting a maximal load (Heavy weight training, 1-5 Repetitions @ 80-100 % of Maximum)
2. The Dynamic Effort Method- Lifting a non-maximal load as fast as possible (Light weight training, focusing on SPEED, 1-5 Repetitions @ 40-70% of Maximum)
3. The Repeated Effort Method- Lifting a non-maximal load to failure or near failure (Moderate weight training, focusing on controlled tempo, 6-12 Repetitions @ 50-80% of Maximum) 1
The quickest way to improve an athlete’s strength and size is to utilize all three of the methods within a program. Force production is improved through the use of dynamic and max effort methods, while the repetition method is used to build size for improving potential force production and prevention of injuries.
For the high school athlete I do not feel (most of the time) that dynamic effort training needs to be addressed. However, advanced (i.e. Seniors and at times Juniors) athletes with a solid foundation of technique and hypertrophy can and will benefit from using the dynamic effort method in-season.