How to Maintain and Build Strength in-Season in Two Hours or Less

strength and conditioning training blog
a frisbee athlete in the gym does a side plank rox exercise

The most difficult part of in-season training is keeping up with strength training. Team practices, throwing practice, and league games are higher priority activities at this time of year. And they should be. There’s no point to being an excellent athlete if you aren’t keeping your skills sharp. At the same time, you don’t want to lose all of the strength you worked hard to gain during the off-season.

Fortunately, maintaining strength is easier than obtaining it. With a laser-like focus on the big lifts, you can even gain strength without compromising the quality of your other workouts.

This strategy for strength training in-season involves two full body workouts per week. One day is a heavy day focusing on the major lifts – ideally back squat, deadlift, pullups, and bench press if I have time. The second day is a light/functional strength day.

Day 1: Go Heavy and Go Home

The protocol: Low volume, high intensity.

Start each exercise with two warmup sets of 50-60% of your training weight. Then do your working sets. Rest 3-5 minutes between each set.

Some weeks I do 3x5, sometimes 3x3. If I’m feeling good, I’ll do a set of 5, a set of 3 and one or two sets of 1 rep at 90% of my one rep maximum. If I’m feeling drained by other training demands, I’ll do only 2 sets of 3-5 reps.

Exact protocol doesn’t matter. The important thing is to get in once per week for a high intensity lifting session to maintain your strength and even perhaps make some gains.

The exercises:

Day 2: Functional Strength and Strength Endurance

The protocol: Functional movement, strength endurance, creativity and balance.

Exercises will vary to keep things interesting. The goal is 2 hip-dominant leg exercises, 2 knee-dominant leg exercises, 2 pushing, and 2 pulling exercises. One of each of those will be unilateral. I love choosing exercises that incorporate more than one of these categories at once.

Do 2-3 sets of 8-10RM (the highest weight you can lift for 8-10 consecutive repetitions in a set. The goal of this workout is to maintain strength and endurance in exercises that have more carryover to sporting performance. These exercises require more overall body control than the four main lifts of Day 1.

Sample Workout 1:

This meets all of the above criteria with only six exercises!

  1. front squats
  2. hip thrusts
  3. backward lunge to SLDL (love this because it combines the hip and knee dominant exercise into one)
  4. single arm incline bench press
  5. single arm cable row
  6. rotational push-ups (a push and a pull all in one)

Sample Workout 2:

Also a six-exercise full body session.

  1. split squat to row (knee dominant plus pull)
  2. single leg deadlift (SLDL)
  3. squat to press (knee dominant plus push)
  4. cable pull-through
  5. pullups
  6. pushup variations

Sample Workout 3:

A longer workout with more core strength recruitment

  1. front foot elevated split squat
  2. hip thrusts
  3. diagonal plate raise
  4. single leg deadlift (SLDL)
  5. side plank cable rows
  6. single arm incline bench press
  7. single arm incline row with iso hold
  8. pushup variation

Across the two days, you should find that these workouts are intense enough to maintain your strength, improve your performance on the pitch, and keep things interesting in just two quick sessions!

This is just one option of in season training available in the Ultimate Athlete Project. Another alternative uses an upper/lower split. The upper/lower split alternative gives players an option for an "extra" full day of leg recovery while continuing with their training schedule.

You can learn more about The Ultimate Athlete Project here.

Learn more about the overall theory of training in season here.


Related Posts:

An In-Season weekly schedule

Ultimate Tournament Recovery Methods: What Does the Science Say?