Maintaining Strength & Fitness Levels during the In-Season
All of you Team Summit athletes have put in a lot of time in the off-season, as well as the pre-season, getting ready to put down some personal best performances. You have been diligent in your strength training, focused on flexibility/mobility and have put together solid pre-activity warm-ups and post-activity cooldowns. Don’t forget about your conditioning during the in-season.
Be sure to assign some training time in your busy schedules to address conditioning protocols. You should have at least two conditioning sessions per week to ensure that you do not experience de-condition pitfalls that will limit your performances while competing and training. Cardiovascular de-conditioning will start to take effect in as little as 3-5 days when this system is not challenged. Metabolic conditioning is more than just long slow distance (LSD) cardiovascular work or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It is important to understand the physiology of energy systems during each type of training. During LSD, your body will be using the slow oxidative system, 70-80% of the fuel consumed is from fat. As the intensity of the session increases, your body starts to shift towards the fast glycolytic system, which is much faster at creating energy from glycogen, but cannot sustain this energy creation for very long. Be very specific to your sports. Most of your competitions last anywhere for 30 seconds to 3 minutes. You want to train in an interval-style that will more closely match your sports duration. During your two conditioning sessions per week, focus on interval style conditioning. Start with a warm-up of 5-10 minutes then shift to higher intensity workloads for 1-3 minutes interspersed with lower intensity bouts that will last 1-2 minutes. Repeat this up and down intensity for 4-6 rounds, then finish with a 5 minute cool down.
When it comes to strength losses during your busy in-season, the news is a little better here. Losses in strength begin to appear in about 4-5 days during times of no weight lifting and the decreases are closer to 1% - 3% of absolute strength for this short time period. However, if you take a break from lifting that lasts more than 2-3 weeks you start to run into significant losses of strength. This can be prevented by maintaining a strength program during your in-season where you get to the weight room 1-2 sessions per week. While in these strength training sessions keep the number of sets and reps lower than you performed during the off-season. For example, 3-4 sets of 7-10 reps using loads in the range of 60% - 70% of what you used during your summer training for an easier day in the gym. If you do not have a very important competition within the next week or two you should increase the intensity of the work out session a little. For these sessions, you want to work with 3-5 sets of 5-7 reps using loads closer to 75% - 85% of your off-season weights. Depending on how busy your on-snow schedule is and the expectation of high skill work on snow will be, you want to be certain to use the lower intensity work out to maintain high skill levels when you are going to a competition in the next week or during the last preparation phases for an important competition. Reserve the higher intensity volumes and loads for a time when you have 2 weeks or more off from important competitions and high skill expectations.
The time you dedicate to strength and conditioning during the in-season will help you stay on the hill longer and performing at higher levels. You all have put in hard work during the off-season and pre-season: make sure you give yourself the opportunity to feel the improvements you have made through the summer by staying engaged in your fitness through the competition season.