“The goal is to keep the goal the goal.” – Dan John
The goal of the weight room is to develop durable athletes that are able to withstand the demands of their sport through resistance training. With this in mind, it is important to remember that in-season strength training is still strength training and it is not a “maintenance” period, it’s about recovering as efficiently as possible while continually trying to get stronger/more powerful in a smart manner. Proper in-season training will lead to reduced injuries and we know strength is our number one protection against injury.
Three basic guidelines we adhere to:
1. Stick to the basics: push/pull/lower/core etc.
Nothing fancy in-season, just the basics…our main lifts remain our main lifts. For example, our off-season lower body training revolves around trap bar deadlift, rear foot elevated split squats, 1-leg RDL’s and 1-leg squats…and so does our in-season training. We still hang clean and snatch, we still bench and we still perform chin ups on a daily basis. The ‘important’ lifts never really change.
2. High intensity & low volume strength work
Once we get to the in-season phase of the year, we continue to lift heavy with the goal of getting stronger, but the overall volume is decrease. We rarely get above 5 reps for our previously mentioned exercises and we look for 1-2 heavy sets per exercise. As an example, this last week women’s hockey performed rear foot elevated split squats for 3 sets of 2 reps each leg, with one set being a very heavy set – essentially the team performed two sets to get them ready for their one heavy set.
3. Incorporate mobility/correctives to counteract the demands of the sport
For example, with women’s hockey we know tight and weak hip flexors are a common issue so we incorporate stretches (spiderman, couch stretch, etc) and correctives (band hip flexor) to try to counterbalance these issues. Whatever the imbalance of the sport the goal should be to fight to maintain balance throughout the in-season period.
All that said, I think if we simply utilize our basic ‘important’ exercises, still continue to train heavy and try to get stronger, and perform these exercises extremely well, you’ll find many athletes will actually get stronger in-season.