If you're a competitive athlete, off-season training is your best opportunity to achieve gains in the weight room. This is when your sport-specific activity—practices and games—is at its lowest level. (Check out this off-season workout for any sport.) Use the time wisely to improve strength for your sport and to help you avoid "wearing down" during the season.
It's important to incorporate multi-joint core exercises into your training plan. When some people hear core, they think abs. But the core includes the chest, back, hips, glutes, quads and hamstrings. These are the muscles that initiate and generate strength and power for virtually any sport. It won't matter how strong your biceps, triceps and calf muscles are if you don't have a strong core.
Also, you have to tweak your perception of training. Instead of strengthening specific muscles, you have to strengthen a movement. This is the key to getting better on the field.
Below are three sample off-season strength-building workouts. They are versatile enough to be used by virtually any athlete, regardless of his or her sport. The first is a total-body workout. The second and third are lower- and upper-body workouts.
Total Body (3 days per week)
- Power Clean - 3x5 @ 95% 5RM
- Hip Sled (Leg Press) - 3x6 @ 90% 6RM
- Glute-Ham Raise - 3x10RM
- Bench Press - 3x6 @ 90% 6RM
- Lat Pulldown - 2x10RM
- Lying Triceps Extension - 2x10RM
- Upright Row - 2x10RM
- Plank - 2x60 seconds each
Lower Body (2 days per week)
Upper Body (2 days per week)
- Push Press - 4x5RM
- Incline Bench Press - 3x6 @ 90% 6RM
- Bent-Over Row - 3x8RM
- Shoulder Press - 3x6 @ 90% 6RM
- Barbell Biceps Curl - 2x8RM
- Triceps Pushdown - 2x8RM
- Hanging Leg Raise - 3x15
Note: Select weight that allows you to achieve the specified rep max (RM) goal.
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