9 Critical Principles for a Successful and Injury Free Off-season (Part 1) - FITNESS PAIN FREE

9 Critical Principles for a Successful and Injury Free Off-season (Part 1)

1: Take Some Time Off

After a grueling open season it’s natural to want to be excited about getting back into training hardcore. You’ve been able to test your mettle in the open, you’ve found some new weaknesses and you’re eager to start hammering them.  Well, that’s great but I also think it’s a bit of a mistake.

Most sports naturally have off-seasons.  I did track in college.  I remember feeling sorry for the cross country and distance guys on the track team in college.  They had to compete in 3 out of 4 seasons during the year.  This was way more then my responsibilities as I only competed in winter and spring track and field.  That being said, the endurance guys were still taking almost 1/4 of the year either off or at a drastically reduced training volume.

So if collegiate and professional athletes take substantial portions of time off at certain times of the year then why aren’t we?  

A bit of time off from training is going to be beneficial is a variety of ways:

  • Time for the endocrine system to normalize after a stressful season
  • Time for the muscles and joints to recover
  • Time to recover emotionally and prepare for the incoming season

Avoiding burn out is an enormous aspect of being able to compete in the long term.  Constantly pounding your body all throughout the year is a great way to burn out.  You may feel pumped to attack the off-season immediately after the open and that’s great.  Just keep in mind that if you attack it too hard initially you may find yourself peaking too early in the season and then starting to feel burnt out by the time the next open hits.  By the time the next open is approaching we want to feel charged up to compete, not hating every workout and wishing it was all over.

Do yourself a favor and take a week or two off from the gym after the season is over.  Your body and mind will thank you.

2: Avoid Overly Used Movements

If you want success in the open you’re going to need to be great at olympic lifting, kipping, overhead pressing and squatting.  There’s no way around it.  The past 6 months of our programming has been pounding these movements hard.  The trouble with this is when we push a given movement with too much frequency, intensity or volume we leave ourselves open to overuse injuries.

Most of the injuries I end up treating on a regular basis occur from an overuse of common movements.  Olympic lifts, kipping, squatting and overhead pressing are the usual culprits.  We know from the baseball literature that avoiding throwing for 3-4 months out of the year will drastically cut down on injury risk for throwing.  I don’t recommend avoiding these motions completely for 4 months at a time but it makes sense that decreasing or eliminating the volume of some of these movements can do the same for you.  In our training program we don’t focus on loaded squats, olympic lifts or overhead pressing for a good 7-8 weeks after the open ends.  By the time you start hitting these movements again you’ll be excited to start training these movements again.

3: Focus on Unilateral Movements

Our training generally consists of a laundry list of bi-lateral movements

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Olympic Lifts
  • Swings
  • Wall Balls
  • Double Unders
  • Box Jumps
  • Rowing
  • The list goes on…

How many single arm and leg movements do we usually focus on?  The short answer is not too many.  I really can’t think of any exercises that we ever attempt to load maximally that requires 1 arm or leg at a time.  Thankfully we’re starting to see more dumbbell movements in the open and hopefully coaches will start to emphasize more unilateral movement as a result (Now we just need strict muscle-ups, pull-ups and handstand push-ups to show up as well)

Since we’re taking some time off from olympic lifting and squatting that leaves plenty of energy for some single limb movements.  Here are some exercise ideas you can easily implement:

  • Weighted lunge, step-up and single leg squat and deadlift variations
  • Dumbbell pressing and rowing at various angles
  • Single arm snatches, swings and cleans with dumbbells and kettlebells

As you know I’m a huge fan of programming and have been writing it for gyms and individuals for years.  I’m currently releasing 4 months of training designed to have a fruitful off-season and gracefully launch you into the next phases of training.

For this week only you can save $20 on the FPF off-season training program and see exactly how I implement these principles into training.

Just make sure you use the coupon code OPEN20 at checkout.

Click HERE to learn more and get instant access!

Time to get ready for 2019!

Dan Pope, DPT, OCS, CSCS

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