1. Use a Planned Deload Week
When it comes to training and performance enhancement we all need to have a plan. We need to have a goal to work towards but also a plan on how to get there. Most people that are new to strength training will take breaks every 6-12 weeks. However, planning more regular deload weeks, say between 4-6 weeks is VERY important. You don’t want to be that guy that tries to keep the volume and intensity up for one week too long just to end up injured and frustrated. If you want to get maximum benefit from your training program then you not only need to have a well thought out periodized program but you really do need to deload more often than you think. Training will be far more enjoyable and you will be smashing PR’s more regularly.
2. Use Appropriate Rest Periods
Rest periods are often a forgotten component of program design. Thats why goal setting is important. You need to have a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve. If your goal is fat loss, you need to be somewhere between 30 and 90 seconds of rest between sets. This creates a greater metabolic effect. If your goal is hypertrophy, somewhere between 60-120 seconds is ideal, and if pure strength is your goal, rest for 3-5 minutes between your sets.
3. Don’t Forget about Foam Rolling, Mobility, and Recovery
With our ultimate goal of getting stronger, faster and more powerful we need to make sure we don’t skip the foam rolling, stretching and recovery strategies. Don’t get complacent! Preparing the body for the demands you are going to place on it in your speed or strength session is very important both in the short and long term. Again our primary goal is to stay healthy and fit so we can keep progressing as athletes. This stuff is the least favorite part of my program but I make sure I get it done because I know how important it is to my long term success.
4. Address Weaknesses in your Off-season
This is the PERFECT time to work on any specific weaknesses you have, improve movement patterns you are not great at, or simply regain a bit of general athleticism. I like to Functional Movement Screen my athletes regularly so both in season and off season our program will include corrective exercise strategies to address an athletes weaknesses. The off season just gives us more time to iron out these issues. Its important that you make use of the extra time you have especially early on in the off season.
5. Use Time Under Tension
Everyone should use tempo training at some point during their workouts. All strength, speed and power athletes can benefit from slower TUT’s (time under tension) that focus on the eccentric part of the lift’s in the off-season as this will develop body control and connective tissue strength. However, as you get closer to your specific event or season, you’ll need to become more “sport” specific with your TUT training.
For those that want more information on this topic Chales Poliquin explains it really well – Tempo Training
6. Make Sure your Conditioning Work is in line with your Goals
This goes hand-in-hand with number 2 above. Too often, I see people who really don’t have clearly defined goals and as a result end up. This is OK if you are not too concerned with progress, but since you’re here reading this, you likely expect more out of your training than the average Joe. If you want to see results fast, every aspect of your training should be focused on achieving one or two goals. Some call this block periodization, some call it unidirectional loading. The end goal is simple: Focus on one, or at most two goals, per block of training. So if your goal is fat loss, then everything should be dialed in for fat loss. Alternating supersets, high reps, shorter rest intervals, circuits and interval training.
In contrast, if your goal is max strength, you’d be better served performing energy system training that’s aerobic in nature. In the beginning, most things work. You can train for a half marathon while simultaneously running a 5×5 strength program and still see results. But the older and more developed you become, the more specific you need to get with each training block. And a key constituent of that is SMARTer programming that’s in-line with your goals. If you are looking for a mentor/coach to help build a Custom Program have a look at this- Online Strength and Conditioning Service
7. More Enjoyable Workouts
At the end of the day we need to have fun , and there are a few things I like to do to keep my athletes enjoying the sessions:
- Create a competitive environment for those that thrive on competition
- Make sure there is enough variety in the program
- Know when to progress/ regress an athlete
- Test/Retest every few weeks. Athletes feel better when they know they are improving.