Improve Performance With In-Season Maintenance Training

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It wouldn't be surprising if the playoff performances of NHL and NBA players suffered after a grueling season. It makes sense since they play 82 physically intense games, practice for hundreds of hours and travel extensively around the country. Yet, these athletes continually perform at unmatched levels in their quest for a championship.

While factors like effort, intensity and focus do contribute to game-time play, it would be impossible to sustain performance without in-season maintenance training.

Maintenance training is designed to do exactly what it suggests—maintain strength gains achieved during the off-season. This serves at least to maintain and hopefully to improve performance throughout the season, as well as to prevent injury.

STACK recently followed Josh Cribbs, star NFL return specialist and  receiver, as he performed an in-season workout. Cribbs has a mentality of maintenance. "I'm not lifting right now to get stronger, I'm lifting to prevent injury," he said.

The key to maintenance training is to perform your workouts at a lower intensity [lower weight] with less volume [less sets and reps] than your off-season workout. Expert trainers recommend performing one to three sets of three to six reps at 85 percent of your max. This lower intensity is critical, as it allows your body to recover from the combination of games, practices and training.

It's important to spend less time in the weight room. Once or twice a week is good for strength training, with workouts as short as 30 to 45 minutes. To achieve the most strength benefits in the least time, focus on exercises that involve multiple muscles groups—such as Power Cleans, Squats and Bench Presses—over isolation exercises, like Leg Extensions and Curls.

Photo:  AP/Elise Amendola

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