It’s frustrating for athletes to not see results after several weeks of summer offseason training.
This article identifies various potential barriers preventing gains and provides methods to sidestep them and redirects the conditioning program to a more favorable course for attaining training goals.
Workout Frequency and Volume
How often one trains (frequency) and the volume of training per workout or per week (i.e., number of sets, reps, amount of resistance, length of workouts) generally positively or negatively impacts conditioning efforts.
Undertraining and Overtraining
Using excuses to miss workouts means missing out on building strength, size and/or speed and endurance, for example.
Conversely, doing excessive high-intensity workouts (training too frequently, overdoing reps and sets, and/or doing overly long training sessions) without adequate recovery creates an overtraining catabolic effect (continuous muscle breakdown) contributing to chronic muscle or joint soreness, fatigue and more susceptibility to illness, derailing training progress similar to the effects of undertraining.
Remedy: Strike a balance. Train intensely a few days a week on non-consecutive days to facilitate recovery and do less intensive active recovery movements on other days to offset overtraining. To avoid undertraining, review offseason training objectives, stay focused and prioritize the importance of workouts. Realize that training hard one day a week or scheduling just a few sessions every few weeks is regressing rather than progressing and minimizing anabolic (muscle-building) effects, for instance.
Insufficient Sleep and/or Nutrients
Aim for Plentiful Sleep
Not regularly getting the recommended eight to nine hours of sleep jeopardizes optimal mental and physical performance resulting in depleted energy and alertness inside and outside the gym. Skimping on sleep also hampers exercise and sports recovery, hindering growth or endurance goals and impacts performance in practices and games.
Remedy: Set a regular sleep time each night and set an alarm clock to wake eight to nine hours later; make sure the bedroom is cool, dark and noise-free; and don’t consume a heavy meal before bedtime.
Slight dehydration, skipping meals, missing necessary vitamins and minerals, consuming inadequate muscle-building protein and energizing and recovery-boosting fruits, wholesome grains and vegetables, or not consuming enough calories in general are common reasons for having low energy during exercise and sports, and also for not achieving size and strength gains, for example.
Remedy: Realize the importance of nutrition’s role in enhancing exercise and sports performance. Prepare small, portable protein/carbohydrate-rich snacks and eat small meals every two-three hours for fueling muscle growth following and between workouts. Consume enough calories to support building and/or maintaining muscle, body weight and physical activity. Ensuring proper hydration by drinking adequate water (clear urine is a general indicator of sufficient hydration).
Uncomfortable Workout Conditions
Training in an overheated gym or outdoors in hot, humid weather is a recipe for not only compromising health, but resulting in cramps and fatigue—sapping strength and endurance needed for productive workouts.
Remedy: Train outdoors early in the day when it’s cooler or when the sun goes down later when it’s more comfortable. Or, if deciding to work out indoors, make sure the environment is well-ventilated with fans and/or air conditioning and with a temperature between 68-72 degrees.
Stagnating, Repetitive Workouts
Doing the same exercises, sets, reps and exercise sequence, or similar endurance drills each week is not only monotonous, but it restricts accomplishing those offseason objectives.
Remedy: Change the exercise sequence and/or vary exercises. Alter the rep tempo. Substitute exercises. Perform balance and core-enhancing single-leg movements mixed with conventional leg exercises. Alternate performing interval training workouts one week and regular workouts the next week. These suggestions help overcome plateaus and make training more interesting, diverse and, ultimately, more rewarding.
Expecting unrealistic rapid gains in size, strength or endurance in minimal time leads to disinterest, disillusionment and possibly a temporary or long-lasting discontinuation in training.
Remedy: Develop and write an offseason training plan incorporating short-term and long-term goals and follow through by consistently heading to the gym. Focus on one or more areas for improvement. Identify strengths and weaknesses and work toward correcting or enhancing them.
Examples include concentrating more training sessions on promoting agility, speed and balance (e.g., Multidirectional Sprints, Single-leg Squats) for a specific sports position, and spending less time on developing mass that could compromise that position or particular sport; or devoting more time on power-building exercises for enhancing upper and lower-body explosiveness for a sports position, and less time with endurance exercises.
Photo Credit: martin-dm/iStock