Long Term Athletic Development

Updated: Oct 16, 2019

In-season Training and Pregame Workouts

Ryan Muñoz, B.S., M.S., C.S.C.S.

Coach Ryan Muñoz setting up Fusion Sport Testing equipment for a combine back in his hometown in The Central Valley, Tracy/Stockton, CA.

For this issue we’ll go outside of the 10 Pillars of LTAD and discuss in-season weightlifting and gameday lifting for youth athletes. MAD and many strength coaches firmly believe in both in-season and gameday lifting. Proper knowledge on how to program for both in-season and gameday lifts are imperative to ensure athletes are safe and performing at their best.

In-season lifting is pretty simple. Athletes should train at HIGH intensities for LOW volumes of training.

Jackie Acosta is currently in-season for field hockey at Saint Ignatius. She is still training at MAD IPC twice per week during field hockey season to make sure she is ready to go for preseason basketball at the end of this month. Last season Jackie gained 167 lbs of strength during her in-season program, with no injuries.

What that means?? Athletes should lift heavy (assuming they’re healthy and have proper technique) but cut the overall volume (sets and reps) down. A pre-season program may have 4x6 back squats at 80-90% of their max and a burnout set at the end- where as in-season the athlete may only perform 3x4-5 reps at 90% max and no burnout. This would hold true for all the compound lifts an athlete is doing.

Rachel Harvey gained 210 lbs of strength during her Junior year in-season program with Saint Ignatius Girls Varsity Basketball. She had no injuries while logging heavy minutes.

The idea behind the high intensity (resistance) is to stimulate the nervous system to still be able to produce high levels of force in season (maintenance), as well as stimulate the hormonal system within the athletes body to produce more anabolic hormones ( IGF-1, growth hormone, testosterone etc).

Angie McAdams gained 187 lbs. of strength in her junior year during the S.I. Girls Varsity Basketball campaign. Like Rachel Harvey, Angie played heavy minutes with no injuries.

The low volume of training is due to the high volume of game and practice stress athletes are exposed to in season. In-season strength training is vital to keep athletes healthy and performing at high levels.

U.S.A. Strength and Conditioning Coach Hall of Famer Mike Brungardt and N.B.A. Hall of Famer Tim Duncan hanging out on the San Antonio Spurs' bench.

Hall of Fame Strength Coach Mike Brungardt (San Antonio Spurs) is a huge proponent of both in-season and game day lifting. “We would get 2 lifts a week in season when schedule allowed. Lifting on game day was for guys who we knew would not get minutes, but we would often perform one of our weekly lifts immediately after a game. Younger athletes can actually train harder during the season and more often. It is possible to make strength gains during a season for youth athletes. Tony Parker, who came to us at the age of 18 made significant strength gains throughout his rookie year. The Spurs have the hardware to back that up winning 4 NBA Titles in his 17 years there.”

Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, and Tim Duncan hold the record for the most NBA playoff games played as a trio. Mike Brungardt played a huge role in keeping these hall of famers healthy with his in-season, strength training programs.

Our numbers don’t lie either. Last year the Saint Ignatius Girls and Boys Basketball Programs gained over 10,000 lbs. of strength in-season. There were 6 players injured prior to the preseason and the start of MAD training. They all returned to play during the regular season and stayed healthy for the remainder of the season. That’s a grand total of 54 games played with no injuries and massive strength gains during the season.

At the beginning of last year’s basketball season, S.I. senior Garrett Cason was injured with a torn patellar tendon. Through his determination and vigorous rehab with MAD, Garrett was able to suit up and play his senior season for the Wildcats. Garrett continued to work with MAD through the off-season and is now a walk-on at the University of Hawaii.

The other issue we will address is game day lifting. In the pro world this is a very common event because pros need to get their lifts in and they may have scheduling issues with travel etc. Game day lifts can be done with the youth population as well. It just needs to be properly programmed and administered. Pregame lifts should be short and sweet. A brief bit of trunk work and balance work, some quick explosive lifts and they're gone.

Neil Begovich began his senior basketball season at S.I. on injured reserve with an injury he sustained while playing for an A.A.U. team in the off-season. With MAD training, he was able to get back on the court during the season, and for the rest of his senior campaign, he participated in the team's in-season training and remained injury free. This year Neil is playing basketball for Stanford University.

Again the idea here is to stimulate the high ordered motor units (fast twitch muscle fibers) with exercises like Olympic pulls etc. The volume (sets and reps) of the workout is very low as the athletes have a game to play following. This lift should be done in 15-20 minutes and the athletes leave ready to hit court or field with their bodies and minds percolating and fired up.