How to Train When You're Not at Your Best

Learn how you can still workout with the bumps and bruises that you sustain during your season.

Kettlebell Swing

All athletes get banged up during the season, an inevitable consequence of battling with opponents and performing at the limits of their capabilities. But is being sore or bruised a reason to skip a workout? The answer is no.

Regularly working out in-season is critical if you want to maintain the strength gains you made during the off-season. (Learn more about in-season workouts.) Everyone gets bumps and bruises, but if you take a pass on a workout, your competition will pass you by.

Wrists, shoulders and ankles are three areas that are often battered but not severely injured. Despite discomfort or lingering pain, you can still perform your full workouts. The key is to modify a few exercises without changing your overall goal.

Sore Wrists

Olympic lifts like the Snatch and Clean are extremely effective at increasing power, but they place a lot of stress on your wrists. If your wrists are sore, perform Med Ball Overhead Throws instead. They offer similar benefits without straining your wrists.

  • Assume athletic stance holding med ball at chest height with arms fully extended
  • Perform quarter-squat and swing med ball between legs
  • Explosively jump out of squat and throw med ball overhead
  • Turn and catch ball off bounce
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-5x6-8

Sore Shoulders

The Bench Press is a favorite exercise among athletes. However, the position of the arms together with a heavy weight load can cause shoulder pain if you're not at 100%.  Switch to a Neutral Grip Dumbbell Press so your shoulders can work in a more natural and comfortable position.

  • Lie with back on bench holding dumbbells near front of shoulders
, palms facing together and elbows to sides
  • Drive dumbbells to ceiling until arms are fully extended
  • Lower dumbbells to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 5x5

Shoulder issues can also stem from pressing exercises themselves. In this case, focus on pulling exercises to maintain strength during your season. The Inverted Row is a great exercise for strengthening the back muscles and keeping your shoulders healthy.

  • Lie on back under bar set to approximately hip height
  • Grab bar with overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Pinch shoulder blades together and pull chest to bar, keeping body in straight line
  • Lower body in control to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 5x5

Sore Ankles

Ankles take a beating when you sprint and change direction. Performing plyos and drills that mimic gameplay may aggravate any nagging issues. Instead, perform the Barefoot Kettlebell Swing. (Learn more about kettlebell training.) This exercise will maintain your power and build endurance while placing minimal stress on your ankles. In fact, the barefoot component will actually help prevent future ankle injuries.

  • Assume athletic quarter-squat stance holding kettlebell between legs
  • Keeping arms straight, drive through heels and explode up with hips to bring kettlebell to chin level in front
  • Return to start position with control and repeat rhythmically

Sets/Duration: 5-10x60 seconds


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: CHEST | WORKOUTS | POWER | EXERCISE | BENCH | MED BALL | PRESS | THROW | DUMBBELLS | STANCE | SWING | STRESS | KETTLEBELL | BAREFOOT