We’re getting into the time of year when the schedules of many ultimate players in North America are at their busiest. With training days, pod workouts, and tournaments, starting a strength training program may be low on your list of priorities. But I’m here to change your mind and tell you why now is a great time to start a strength training plan, even if you’ve never been on one before.
The primary goal of training in season should be to keep you healthy and ready for the demands of tournament play. Here is how starting a strength training program can support those goals.
While the in-season phase isn’t the most typical time for an athlete to start a strength training program, for some athletes it can actually be the best time. If you’ve struggled with getting started, with motivation to continue once you’ve begun, perhaps now is the time for you!
Starting a strength training routine in season can be good timing for a low pressure learning environment. Your main aim when you start strength training for the first time should be learning good form rather than aiming to push heavy weights from the start.
This may be psychologically easier in season because you don’t want to wear yourself out with all of the other demands you have on your time and on your body. The pressure to lift heavy will be minimal.
With all of the field time of practices and tournaments, you may find the air-conditioned gym to be a nice change of pace from your cleats on grass work. It can also be a good place to focus on you and your own training apart from your team training demands.
In-season lifting is less frequent than an ideal off-season lifting schedule. And missing a day of in-season strength training has less impact on your overall training goals than missing a day of off-season strength training. For both of these reasons, it’s a great time to ease yourself into the habit and focus on progress and small gains instead of having to worry about perfect adherence to a strict schedule.
Despite the low volume lifting of an in-season schedule, first-time lifters or those who are new to functional strength training can still expect to see physical gains.
While the off season is where the largest gains in strength and power are built, those new to lifting will still see an increase in strength even on a 2 day/week in-season schedule. Those who are new to functional strength training will likely feel better about how they are moving. You can also expect to feel more durable, meaning you’ll feel fewer aches and pains after a tournament, and have a reduced injury risk compared to if you weren’t strength training.
When athletes feel the benefit of being on an athletic performance program for just a few days per week, it’s easier to imagine the even larger benefits of being on a periodized program throughout the off season.
So if you’ve never done a strength program before, it’s not too late. Get yourself a gym membership, learn a few exercises, and put yourself in a better position going into your next off season.
If you want to know exactly what exercises to do between now and your main tournament, along with a taper phase to help you perform your best when it counts, learn more about The Ultimate Athlete Project.