Importance of offseason training

Many people take offseason training a whole lot more lightheartedly than when they are competing or prepping for a comp. Time spent completing mobility is reduced, training sessions may be rushed, sets or exercises may be missed and focus on important cues is generally reduced. This tends to happen as the pressure is off due to no comps coming up in the near future, or it’s seen as a time where you take it easy. While it’s true that generally the intensity will drop (amount of weight lifted) to give the body and mind a break from all the stress of competing, it’s important to see the offseason as a phase that is just as important as ‘in season’ or when prepping for a comp.

Generally as intensity increases and the loads get heavier while peaking for a comp, you will also find that you feel a lot more aces, niggles and tight muscles that come with the increased stress that you place on the body. It’s only natural to care for the body when it’s in pain and uncomfortable. Lots of people find it quite hard to think about mobility when in offseason, as those aches and pains are generally reduced or eliminated due to the intensity dropping. It’s important to invest time into mobilising and activation measures as you still want to be in a prime state to train. The offseason is used as a base to your onseason. If you’re slacking off with the mobility and you pick up some bad motor patterns due to inactive or tight muscles, then it’s going to come back to bite you when you start prepping for a comp and start lifting these heavier loads with inefficient technique.

Everyone has had scenario where they have decided to train at a particular period throughout the day and haven’t left enough time to get through the whole session. We all know powerlifters take a long time to train. You should have planned for this session correctly and left enough time. Regardless, you have 2 options, either rush through the session and complete it, or miss a few exercises. Both are going to be detrimental to your training. Rushing generally means that rest periods are reduced, mobility is reduced or weight is decreased to account for the lack of rest. All of these factors will increase your risk of injury, decrease the efficiency of the movement, increase your fatigue levels and overall change a quality session into a poor session. The only way you can fix this is to plan correctly. Set time aside for the session with buffers either side to allow for distractions or lateness.

You have to remember, offseason training is all about preparing you for your in season training. We previously talked about building a base for your ‘in season’ training. Generally programs will be targeting your weakest links within the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift. A whole lot of the time you will actually find that you’re not even completing a comp lift directly, it may be a variation of a comp lift. The reason for this is to build balance within the lifter. There’s no point in having legs that can support a 300kg lift, with an upper back that can only support 200kg. You’re always going to be capped at the weakest link in the chain, in this case your limiting factor is the upper back. Generally variation lifts are quite a lot less intense, as the movements performed are harder for the individual to complete. Due to this decreased intensity (weight on the bar), the lifting isn’t as intimidating and you will find a lot of people just go through the motions and lift the weight, taking little notice of their cues or what to focus on. The whole point of doing the variation lifts is to target a particular muscle, or a particular section of the lift where you are deemed ‘weaker’. The approach should be that of high focus and precision so that you are actually taking advantage of the time you now have to build ‘balance’ in your body and your lifting. There is nothing more frustrating for an athlete to know exactly what they need to improve on, but struggle to actually improve due to missed opportunities. Take the lighter, more targeted ‘offseason’ work more seriously and you will find that it helps your ‘in season’ lifting more than you might think.

There are many reasons why a lifter may take their ‘offseason’ training less seriously. We can think of it as the same concept of cramming for a test, the further away the test is, the less we care for it. As soon as the test gets close, we do as much as we can to ‘catch up’ from the lazy weeks prior. The unfortunate part about lifting and the adaptations that occur when trying to get strong is that you can’t ‘cram’ those physical adaptations to occur within the body. They come over a long period of time with the combination of progressive stress and rest, that compounds over time, in-turn creating the response of strength, which helps you move more weight. It is important to invest just as much time and energy into your training, mobility, attention to cues and planning as you would when you are ‘in season’ training as you can’t ‘cram’ for a comp.

May 07, 2019 — Daniel Felstein

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