If you live in the midwest as I do, it may still feel like we’re in the depths of winter. However, the spring sports season for many high schools and colleges is right around the corner. For you, lacrosse athletes who’ve neglected their offseason conditioning, fear not as I’ve got a program that will have you running circles around the competition in no time.
Before we get down to business with the program, it is important to understand the different energy systems and why they matter for lacrosse performance. But first, a little Science before we get to the workout.
Also known as the Creatine Phosphate System, this energy system functions without oxygen (anaerobically) through the conversion of creatine phosphate to ATP (energy) and is the system of choice for short, intense bursts of up to about 15 seconds. When you’re at an all-out sprint on a breakaway, this is the primary energy system in use.
Comprised of fast (anaerobic)- and slow (aerobic)- glycolysis, the glycolytic system converts glucose into ATP. The glycolytic system takes over around the 15-second mark and can sustain you for about 2 minutes. When you’re working somewhat intensely but not quite all-out – playing defense on an intense possession, for example, the glycolytic system is what you’re relying on.
The aerobic system has a tremendous amount of stored energy, but because it requires oxygen (for the chemical reaction – you still need to breathe no matter what system you’re using) to convert glucose or fat to ATP, it is slower to respond than the ATP-PC or Glycolytic systems. Once an effort exceeds a few minutes, the aerobic system takes over and can sustain you for quite some time. Although a play in lacrosse rarely ventures into the 2+ minute range, your aerobic system is hugely important in allowing the other systems to fully recover. If you’re capable of very intense efforts but easily get “gassed” or have trouble catching your breath between bouts, improving your aerobic system is crucial.
The above is an oversimplification – all three energy systems are always functioning to some extent, and the amount they are working is constantly in flux, but it is important to distinguish between them for the purposes of training.
Let’s Get Into Training
Unlike football or baseball – which are almost exclusively played in short spurts and rely predominantly on the ATP-PC system, lacrosse relies on a blend of all three energy systems. Throughout the course of a game, you’ll need to all-out sprint, sustain moderately intense efforts on offensive or defensive sets, and get yourself into position, or find a second to catch your breath. Since I typically use a 3x per week split, devoting the conditioning on each day to a specific energy system is a natural fit. If you follow this program for the next six weeks, you’ll improve all three energy systems and be ready to tackle anything this lacrosse season brings your way!
*Make sure you warm up fully before completing these workouts, especially when sprinting. Ideally, these are done outdoors on a surface similar to the one you play on, although you can do the intervals and tempo runs on a treadmill if you don’t have any other options
DAY 1 – GLYCOLYTIC
These are simply intervals run as hard as you can sustain for the duration of the interval. If the prescribed rest is not enough, rest until you are ready for another interval and pay extra attention to your aerobic training.
(Sets x Work/ Rest)
- Week 1 6×1:30/3:00
- Week 2 8x:1:30/3:00
- Week 3 8×1:00/2:00
- Week 4 10×1:00/2:00
- Week 5 10x:30/:90
- Week 6 12x:30/:90
DAY 2 – AEROBIC
While the aerobic system is a powerhouse for recovery, many people train it by simply plodding away for long distances at speeds slow enough that they would be benched immediately if they ever ran that way in a game. While it is true that the aerobic system is the primary system for long distances, the aerobic system is also the primary system of maximal sub training. For this reason, I find it much more beneficial to train with tempo runs. Tempo runs are simply “sprints” run at a lower intensity. This allows you to train the sprint pattern but keep the stress on the aerobic system rather than the ATP-PC system. Treat tempo runs like sprints but run them at 50-70% intensity. I typically find that walking back the same distance you ran is sufficient for recovery.
- Week 1 – 6×40 yards
- Week 2 – 8×40 yards
- Week 3 – 8×60 yards
- Week 4 10×60 yards
- Week 5 8×80 yards
- Week 6 10×80 yards
DAY 3 – ATP-PC
We’re going to train the ATP-PC system with sprints – specifically multidirectional sprints, since the change of direction is as important, if not more, than simply being able to run fast.
- Push-up Position Start 5×10 yards
- 5 yard Shuffle to 15 yard Sprint x3/side
- Week 2
- Push-up Position Start 5×15 yards
- 5 yard Shuffle to 15 yard Sprint x4/side
- Laying on Your Back Start 5×10 yards
- Sprint 5 yards – Shuffle 5 yards – Sprint 10 yards x3/side
- Laying on Your Back Start 5×15 yards
- Sprint 5 yards – Shuffle 5 yards – Sprint 10 yards x5/side
- Side-Lying Start 4×10 yards/side
- Facing Backwards Start 5×10 yards
- Side-Lying Start 5×10 yards/side
- Facing Backwards Start 5×20 yards
So there you have it. Don’t fret if you’ve slacked on your offseason training thus far. Just follow this simple program and leave your competition in the dust.