Updated: Oct 16, 2019
In-season Training and Pregame Workouts
Ryan Muñoz, B.S., M.S., C.S.C.S.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.