In-season strength training: Why it’s important for sports performance and prevention of injury.
It is well known amongst most people, particularly among athletes, the importance of having some form of a strengthening and athletic development program for sports performance. During the pre-season, many athletes use the time away from competition to perform a thorough program. What’s more interesting to note, particularly within local and club level sports, is that the amount of sessions dedicated to a strengthening program dramatically reduces once the season starts. While this does seem like the logical thing to do, abandoning your strength training program during the season could actually be detrimental to your performance, particularly at the business end of the season.
So why is this the case?
Firstly, let’s look into the general principles underlying strength training.
Essentially, athletes do strength/hypertrophy training mainly to build muscle mass and maximise strength and power for the season. These adaptations occur through the use of a regular training stimulus, which at certain periods, is slightly increased to make the bodywork harder and subsequently lead to greater adaptation. Now if you take this training stimulus away from the athlete, even during the actual season, they can still show detraining effects of reduced speed, power and strength. In fact, it can take as little as 3-4 weeks for small deficits in these training variables to occur. Reductions in these key abilities would definitely place you at disadvantage to your competition, especially leading up to finals and championship games.
Furthermore, athletes might feel that stopping strength training during the season will do their body a favour and reduce the risk of injury. In actual fact, the opposite is true! A stronger athlete is more capable of withstanding the physical demands of a sport compared to an untrained individual. Therefore, this makes them more durable and less likely to sustain injuries and niggles during the season.
In summary, if you’re an athlete, don’t stop the gym training! Try to fit 1 or 2 sessions into each week of the season, with the flexibility of taking a couple of weeks off here and there. Typically, these in-season sessions will purely be focused on maintenance, so that they shouldn’t overload the body to the point where strength training would be detrimental to sport performance.
If you need some assistance with your gym maintenance program during your season, get in contact with us now and our physios would be happy to help!