Start Your Season Fresh with Off-Season Periodization Training | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

How to Get More Out of Your Off-Season Workouts

March 19, 2012

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

The off-season is a perfect time for your body to recover from the wear and tear of a long season and for you to focus on areas of your game that may have been lacking. To get the most out of your off-season, attack it with a plan that splits it into three periods: cross training, strength/endurance and power. This periodization (achieving planned goals over a specific time period) will not only help you recover, it'll have your performance peaking at just the right time.

Period 1: Light Cross Training (3-4 Weeks)
Stress fractures occur in way too many athletes—usually because they play their sport all year long instead of cross training. By taking time during the off-season to work muscles you don't normally use, you'll dramatically lower your risk of overuse injuries and give your strongest muscles time to recover while you build new ones.

Do you run cross country? Get off your feet and take a spinning class. Are you a swimmer? Play soccer or train for a 10K. Whatever your sport, it's important to pick a workout that you enjoy without overloading the same muscles you use during the season. Use these weeks to let your body heal while still maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. (Get more ideas for cross training.)

Period 2: Strength/Endurance (4-8 Weeks)
During this phase, you can go back to training directly for your sport. However, you should keep your reps high, focusing on muscular endurance instead of power. For your main exercise, lift around 65 percent of your max for 12 to 15 reps. Main exercises are the ones that emphasize large muscle groups with multi-joint movements like:

Period 3: Power (Preseason)
When the off-season is over and the preseason begins, transition into power workouts that emphasize strength and speed. Here, you'll concentrate on low reps at 85 percent or more of your one-rep max. The power phase builds on the strength and endurance you developed in the off-season so you can hit your peak physically by the time your new season starts.

Many athletes are so competitive that after a tough season, all they want to do is hit the weight room to get better for next year. This year, try periodizing your off-season to avoid burnout and injury. Adapt this plan for your sport, and you'll be at 100 percent when it counts the most.

Joe Lopez, CSCS, works with many different athletes at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, N.J. His expertise is in track and field, baseball and golf. He has worked as a personal trainer for more than seven years. Follow him online at or on Twitter.

Joe Lopez
- Joe Lopez, CSCS, works with many different athletes at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, N.J. His expertise is in track & field,...
Joe Lopez
- Joe Lopez, CSCS, works with many different athletes at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, N.J. His expertise is in track & field,...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament, or ACL, is the last thing you want to hear your doctor tell you that is injured. Even though you can live life without...

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

3 Reasons to Correct Your Weak Links to Prevent Common Injuries

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

How to Train With Running Blisters

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence