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How to Maintain and Build Strength in-Season in Two Hours or Less

strength training Aug 08, 2011

The most difficult part of in-season training is keeping up with strength training.  Team practices, throwing practice, and league games are higher priority activities at this time of year.  And they should be.  There's no point to being an excellent athlete if you have no skills.  At the same time, you don't want to lose all of the strength you worked hard to gain during the off-season.

Fortunately, maintaining strength is easier than obtaining it. With a laser-like focus on the big lifts, you can even gain strength without compromising the quality of your other workouts.

My strategy for strength training in-season is to do two full body workouts per week.  One day is a heavy day focusing on the major lifts - back squat, deadlift, pullups, (and bench press if I have time.)  The second day is a light/functional strength day.


Day 1: Go Heavy and Go Home

The protocol:  Low volume, high intensity.

Start each exercise with two warmup sets of 50-60% of your training weight.  Then do your working sets.  Some weeks I do 3X5, sometimes 3X3.  If I'm feeling good, I'll to a set of 5, a set of 3 and one or two sets of 1 rep at 90% my 1RM.  If I'm feeling drained by other training demands, I'll do only 2 sets of 3-5 reps. Exact protocol doesn't matter. The important thing is to get in once per week for a high intensity lifting session to maintain your strength and even perhaps make some gains.  Rest between sets is 3-5 minutes.

 The exercises:

  • Back Squats (Some people will argue against back squats, but I feel they have treated me very well. A good alternative is front squats.)
  • Deadlift
  • Bench Press
  • Pullups

Day 2: Functional Strength and Strength Endurance

The Protocol: Functional movement, strength endurance, creativity and balance.

Exercises will vary to keep things interesting.  The goal is 2 hip dominant leg exercises, 2 knee dominant leg exercises, 2 pushing, and 2 pulling exercises. One of each of those will be unilateral.  I love choosing exercises that incorporate more than one of these categories at once.  2-3 sets of 8-10 RM.  The goal of this workout is to maintain strength and endurance in exercises that have more carryover to sport performance.  These exercises require more overall body control than the four main lifts of Day 1.

 Sample Workout 1:

Meets all of the above criteria with only six exercises!

  1. front squats
  2. hip thrusts
  3. backward lunge to SLDL (love this because it combines the hip and knee dominant exercise into one.
  4. single arm incline bench
  5. seated row
  6. pushup rotational row (a push and a pull all in one)

 Sample Workout 2:

Also a six exercise full body session.

  1. split stance squat and pull (knee dominant plus pull)
  2. single leg SLDL
  3. squat to press (knee dominant plus push)
  4. cable pull through
  5. assisted pullups
  6. pushup variation

Sample Workout 3:

A longer workout with more core strength recruitment

  1. RLESS
  2. hip thrusts
  3. diagonal plate raise
  4. single leg SLDS
  5. side plank  cable rows
  6. single arm bench press
  7. standing single arm single leg cable pull
  8. pushup variation



 Related Posts:

How to get it all done: Your in-season training plan

Strength Training: upper body workout

Strength Training:  leg workout


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