Off-Season Training Part 4 - Are You Training the Right Qualities

If you've been following our off-season training series you know that so far we've covered mistakes, movement patterns, and energy systems.  If you've missed any of them just click on the links to get caught up on the series. 

The truth is a majority of my focus is on how to train in the weight room; but make no mistake, that weight room training should only supplement actual skill work and practice. My number one rule for all my athletes is that you're not allowed to get hurt in the weight room.

That being said, today I want to shift focus towards the different performance qualities that we can train in the weight room to make sure that our road map is pointing us in the right direction.

There are two big mistakes I see all the time:

  1. Focusing too much on strength
  2. Focusing too much on size

As much as I love strength training, being a weight room hero will only get you so far. I know plenty of guys that aren't necessarily the strongest on their team in the weight room but they sure are unbelievable to watch.

Same goes with hypertrophy. Passing the look test helps in some regards, but if all you have are looks then you'll have fun being a good looking bench warmer. 

At the end of the day I want my athletes to have power/speed, endurance, as well as strength and size. 

Training is not black and white, and to be your best you need to focus on all these qualities.

  1. Power/Speed - These are probably the most coveted qualities in athletics. Make no mistake, they are not the foundation, you need movement and strength for that, but they are the pinnacle. The more powerful and faster athletes are the ones everyone wants on their team.... I group these two qualities together because I feel they both need to be treated equally. You won't be as fast if you're not powerful, and to that same extent if you don't produce power quickly then you won't be nearly as impressive... For the most part these qualities need to be trained early in a session because of the taxing nature they present on our bodies, and a sufficient rest time needs to be given as well... A big mistake I see with power training is too high of volume, when, in all honesty, we want our athlete's to look fresh and crisp on every rep. If their speed or form breaks down we call it a day on this quality.... That being said we might do stuff less form intensive later to safely get our athletes focusing on mechanics and power when fatigued, but that's another blog post for another time.
    1. Here are some general outlines for programming power (remember it's not this cut and dry, but I figure this might help):
      1. Sets: 2-6
      2. Reps: 1-5
      3. Rest: 3-5 minutes


  1. Strength - Movement and strength really should be treated as foundational qualities. A stronger athlete will be able to produce more power. Like I said, there comes a point where our field and court athletes don't really need to put more weight on the bar, and I know I have to be careful not to get too meat-head-ish. Its a little subjective in this area but its important to recognize the demands of each athletes sport/position and understand when maybe they don't need to keep lifting the house... That being said, strength is still super important and CAN'T be ignored. I can't tell you how many times I get a fast athlete who isn't strong, and by making them stronger they become significantly faster.
    1. Just like power, strength should be trained early in the session when they are the freshest. Sometimes you can do near the end of the session to limit strength and potentially reduce the risk of injury, but that's another topic for another time.
    2. Here are some general outlines for strength:
      1. Sets: 3-5
      2. Reps: 1-6
      3. Rest: 2-5 minutes


  1. Hypertrophy - Believe it or not, making muscles bigger actually plays an important role for performance. First off a bigger muscle has potential to be a stronger more powerful muscle, but hypertrophy training also does a good job in strengthening connective tissues such as ligaments and tendons. I love using hypertrophy training for helping my athletes better understand positioning, stability, and even focusing in on muscles such as glutes or low traps. Hypertrophy can take place later in the workout, but it really shouldn't be ignored at all.
    1. Here are some general outlines for hypertrophy:
      1. Sets2-5
      2. Reps: 6-12
      3. Rest: 60-90 seconds


  1. Muscular Endurance - Just like hypertrophy, this is an often overlooked element that needs to be given attention. I like to use these for muscles that the athlete needs when they're tired. The core, glutes, and the smaller muscles of the quadriceps group come to mind. This can be very helpful for just kicking your butt, you'll still see some hypertrophy, and like I said, it will go a long way in reducing the risk of injury. I'll even put mechanic type exercises or a lot of single leg exercises.  This specific quality needs to be very high volume and honestly you'll probably hate training it because of this.
    1. Here are some general outlines for muscular endurance:
      1. Sets: 2-4
      2. Reps: 12 or more
      3. Rest: 0-30 seconds

There you have it. I can go in depth with all of these qualities, but I just want to give you the basic gist of each of them.  Make sure in your off-season training you don't focus so much on the glamorous qualities that you forget  or neglect any of the others.

- Dave

Did I just blow your mind? Rock your world? Or leave you completely confused? Drop a comment below I'd love to hear whats on your mind.