Strength training during the season might sound insane to the old school coach or the amateur player.
However, at the highest level, strength training during the season is not only becoming more common, it’s being seen as an essential component building towards success at the business end of the season.
Strength is a key factor in athletic performance due to:
- Greater ability to apply force and also the potential toapply large force in small time periods which translates to speed.
- Reduced overuse injuries by as much as 50%.
- Research has shown that an experimental group (26 players) that strength trained 2-3 times per week experienced 9 less injuries across the course of the season when compared to the control group (26 players) who did not strength train. These injuries are from both contact and non-contact mechanisms.
- Greater strength levels lead to greater movement economy. Each step you take is less of a % of the force you can produce and therefore Strength can improve endurance.
The football season at the elite level is around 40 weeks long. That means if an elite player has 2-4 weeks holiday, they would have an 8-week pre-season to prepare them. If a player did not strength train during the season, that would mean only 8 weeks of strength work per year.
How much of a strength gain can be made in 8 weeks?
With structured training, a reasonable amount. But how long can this strength be maintained for?
Studies have shown that maximal strength can be maintained for around 2 weeks of complete rest in adult males.
With the benefits of strength training being well-known and well documented, would you work for 8 weeks, for only 2 weeks of benefit? Ofcourse not!
*Key Point: It iscrucial to build and maintain strength throughout the season to continue to reap the benefits throughout the year!
The key to making strength-work simple in-season is to keep the intensity high (heavy loads) and volume (total weight lifted in a session) low.
With this in mind, the concept of micro-dosing can be extremely useful. Micro-dosing in strength and conditioning is simply applying a stimulus that is big enough to produce a positive adaptation while at the same time being small enough to avoid negative effects such as muscle soreness and fatigue.
If you play 1 game per week on Saturday’s, a simple schedule could look like this:
Monday: Light field session and Injury Prevention
Tuesday: Intense field session and Strength training
Thursday: Light field session and Power based training
Friday: Light field session
Saturday: Match Day
Sunday: Day off/Active Recovery
The Final Say
To play at the elite level, you need to be strong, powerful and robust. All three of these qualities require regular strength training. Don’t swerve the gym sessions during the season if you want to be lifting silverware at the end of it.