Off-Season Conditioning Suitable for Every Athlete | STACK

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

Off-Season Conditioning Suitable for Every Athlete

November 15, 2012 | Mitch Calvert

Must See Conditioning Videos

Generally speaking, the off-season is supposed to be used to recover from the long season. However, some athletes fall into the bad habit of overeating, focusing only on strength training and short-changing their cardio conditioning. By the time training camp comes around, they find themselves a step or two behind. (Ask the Experts! How Should I Eat in the Off-Season?)

Approach your off-season conditioning with a plan that combines strength and speed. This will minimize any needless weight gain and improve your strength and endurance. (See How to Get More Out of Your Off-Season Workouts.)

Being strong but slow won't get you very high up on any sports team's depth chart. Build strength and gain quickness, speed and agility by incorporating at least one conditioning session into your weekly routine—even if you lift weights four or more times a week.

I'm not talking about hours of monotonous hamster-style cardio on a treadmill or recumbent bike. You need to mimic the stops and starts that most sports require, so that means interval training. (See also Tabata Training: Quick Workouts for Amazing Results.)

Try the following drills:

Hill Sprints

Hill Sprints place your body in a safer position than flat ground sprints, because the angle of the terrain reduces impact on your knees, lowering the risk of pulling a hamstring.

After a thorough warm up, start with 10 minutes of sprints (30 seconds up, one minute walking down). If it's cold out, make sure your legs are warm and ready before starting.

Slowly increase your number of sprints over time. If you start at 10 minutes, bump it up to 15 by week three and to 20 minutes by week five. At that point, you can take a week off and reset. This doesn't have to be an endless catabolic marathon. You should top out at 20 to 30 minutes of sprints at your peak.

Watch NFL safety Steve Gregory perform Hill Sprints.

Sled Pushes/Pulls

This is a great conditioning exercise if you have a sled handy. Commonly known as the Prowler, this little contraption can push any athlete to his or her limits. It allows for adding weight, increasing resistance even more.

Learn Sled Pushes from NHL All-Star Mike Green.

Cart Pushes

A poor man's version of the Prowler. Find a shopping cart in a parking lot, load it up with heavy objects and sprint forward while pushing the cart for 45 to 60 seconds or until your speed starts to decline. As with the previous two drills, start by doing a minimum of 10 minutes and progressively increase your time as the weeks progress.

Watch Craig Kimbrel perform his "Junkyard" Sled Drives.

Sideways Sprints

You aren't always moving straight forward or backward in any sport. Quick bursts side-to-side are necessary at times to dodge an opponent or catch a ball.

Set up two pylons (or cones) about 30 yards apart. With body facing forward, shuffle between them, pausing to touch the top of each one as you reach it.

Bike Intervals

If you're stuck indoors due to weather, sprints on a bike can be as effective as the four drills described above. Unlike a treadmill, you can go full out on a bike without risking an embarrassing fall. Also, the stationary bike forces you to maintain a decent pace between sprints, as there's no cruising momentum like you get on a bike outdoors.

Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
Must See
Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps
Views: 19,091,082
NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone
Views: 24,502,353
Jadeveon Clowney on Making Big Hits
Views: 3,562,493

Featured Videos

James Harden on Becoming a Franchise Player Views: 72,181
Path to the Pros 2015: Devin Smith Views: 28,385
Blake Griffin Interview and Cover Shoot Views: 574,246
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,853,131
Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,359,321
Colby Lewis's Four-Seam Fastball Technique
Views: 5,011,256
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 7,789,434
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,853,131

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

7 Footwork Drills That Give You an Advantage

Seven Footwork Drills To Gain An Advantage How many times have you heard coach yell, "Get on the line and look like you are ready for conditioning"?...

High-Intensity Interval Training: How Much Is Too Much?

Can You Pass Drew Brees' Conditioning Test?

Improve Your Aerobic Fitness in the Off-Season

Get in Game Shape With 4 Conditioning Combos

Full-Body Conditioning Workout: 3 Loaded Carry Variations

Get in Shape With 5 Intense Lower-Body Finishers

In-Season Baseball Pitcher Workout Program

Win the Fourth Quarter With These Basketball Sled Push Finishers

Can You Survive These 4 Crazy Plate Push Finishers?

In Defense of Cardio

A Slo-Mo Must-See: Ike Taylor's 4-Man Battle Rope Squats

Who Invented the Burpee?

Alternatives to Boring Cardio Training

LeBron James's Insane Conditioning Drill

STACK Challenge: The 10/10 Treadmill Challenge

How Sporting Kansas City Stays 'Sporting Fit'

Off-Season Conditioning: Full-Body Med Ball Workout

Training Secrets of UFC Champion Johny Hendricks

How Much Conditioning Do You Really Need?

5 Brutal Sprint Drills That Push the Lactic Threshold

LaTroy Hawkins' Epic Battle Ropes Workout

Advanced High School Football Summer Conditioning Program

STACK Challenge: Finish Strong

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Interval Sprints

Test Your Toughness With the Who Dat? Challenge

4 HIIT Workouts That Will Get You in Shape Fast

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Fartlek Run

5 NBA Players Who Found Their Game After Losing Weight

How to Avoid Hockey Conditioning That Slows You Down

Get in Basketball Shape With the Right Workout

Understanding the Benefits and Risks of Altitude Training

4 Simple Drills to Improve Your Endurance

The Mount Everest Treadmill Challenge

STACK Challenge: 5 Minutes of Treadmill Torture

STACK Challenge: 500-Meter Row

Get in Shape With This Basketball Conditioning Workout

Baseball Conditioning: Why You Need an Aerobic Base

Training with the Elevation Training Mask 2.0

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: The Hill

Can You Survive the

Can You Handle the Husker Toughness Test?