“If you want to improve your conditioning and turn it into a weapon then you must work on it year round.” – Joel Jamieson
In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes strength coaches make in their off-season programs is not maintaining adequate conditioning levels throughout the entire off-season. In a lot of cases, conditioning gets overlooked for other qualities during the off-season period, with a conditioning only becoming a focus 4-8 weeks out leading into the season.
I obviously understand that conditioning can’t be put at the forefront during the off-season as other qualities are ahead on the pecking order, but I do believe some level of conditioning needs to be maintained throughout the off-season. Simply put, to get into the appropriate shape that will be needed to get an athlete through the rigors of the entire competitive season, and get through it as healthy as possible, a handful of weeks of dedicated conditioning isn’t going to be enough.
As an example, any college strength coach will tell you that it takes time to develop the necessary strength and power to compete at a high level in college. Additionally, any sport coach will tell you that you can’t practice your sport for a couple of weeks and think that the teams’ tactical skills will be at an appropriate level.
Why would conditioning be any different?
As Joel Jamieson states in his book Ultimate MMA Conditioning:
“You can have great strength and power but without proper cardiovascular development and muscular endurance, you won’t have the energy you need to put your strength to good use as the fight (sport) wears on.”
What coaches need to realize is that all the strength and power in the world won’t make a bit of difference if an athlete doesn’t have the needed conditioning levels to use it, especially as the game/match/competition moves to the later stages. If an athletes conditioning is a weapon for them, they’ll have more fuel and a greater ability to generate power and strength at all times throughout their sporting event.
As a result, giving an athlete to access their power and strength should be the goal of any well thought out and planned sport performance program…and most athletes need to produce power and strength for a prolonged period of time!
So what’s the point?
As a coach you need to perform conditioning year round if you want to have a team or an athlete competing at their very best. Generally speaking, aerobic and anaerobic-alactic work should be developed/maintained throughout the majority of the off-season. As the athlete or team approaches the start of the season, roughly 3-4 weeks out in most cases, the focus on the conditioning program should shift to anaerobic-lactic development.