Strength Maintenance Series Part 2 – Programming

The second part of the strength maintenance series talks about how to program strength maintenance into in-season workouts. It’s much less out of the weeds of science, but not completely neglect of it. If you’re lazy you’ll start right here; but if you’re smart and want to get the most out of your in-season workouts, you’ll read PART 1 first.

When talking about programming there are two questions that need to be considered. 1) How do I fit the training into my workouts; and 2) when do I fit the training into my workouts. By answering these questions we can provide ourselves with a framework to plug exercises into.

We will start with the how.

Fitting strength maintenance exercises into your in-season workouts is almost as easy as “just doing it.” Almost. In-season workouts are categorized by being high intensity and low volume. In order for a workout to achieve this, it becomes stripped of all the thrills and is essentially a bare bones workout. By stripping a workout like this, it becomes focused on what needs to be achieved without causing over-exertion. An in-season workout will likely follow the general scheme of starting with a power movement, then progressing to strength maintenance, and finishing with a small dose of accessory work. Our strength maintenance work is then plugged into that model as the front to middle portion of the workout. Typically, the strength maintenance work is the second and third lift of the workout. This allows us to perform our power work in a state of zero fatigue, and still lift near maximal loads to produce the best possible strength stimulus we can.

By answering the how, we have started to answer the when – towards the beginning of the workout but after the power exercises. However, there is still the question of when, time wise, should strength maintenance be programmed?  The easy answer here is to say that strength maintenance should be performed during every in-season lift. The problem with this answer is that there are many times that strength maintenance is not appropriate.

To produce a general model of when strength maintenance should be engaged in, I’ve based a normal week on 2 workouts containing strength maintenance work. From there you either add a day of strength maintenance work or take one off, depending on the week. See below.

Add a day of strength maintenance if:

  • No games during week
  • Coming off a long break and week ahead is normal
  • Upcoming games are against lower-tier teams and team can win at less than 100% preparedness

Subtract a day of strength maintenance if:

  • More than the normal amount of games in a week
  • Upcoming tournament within the week
  • Just finishing a tournament
  • Big rivalry week, where emotions run high
  • Finals week in school
  • Playoffs upcoming or during
  • More tired than normal

The last consideration needed when programming strength maintenance work is tracking the training load. The most important aspect of strength maintenance is that the training load does not become too great. Strength maintenance is performed in-season, meaning the amount of stress placed on the body is much greater than during the off-season. Recovery at this time is extremely important, and too high of a training load will significantly hinder recovery (to brush up on recovery measures, read THIS). Strength maintenance training loads should be monitored so that they do not produce excessive fatigue, or an excessive decline in performance.

That’s all for this post, stay tuned for the last part of the strength maintenance series, where I will get into the meat a potatoes of which exercises should be performed during strength maintenance!

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