It’s so great to be getting some nicer weather here in Wisconsin the past few days! And with the nicer weather, I have been getting excited for the sport season coming up. I race motocross from about May – October and my husband is an avid cyclist with a similar race season. This year, I’m also hoping to do a few more mountain bike races so my goal is to get out on the bike more this spring. With the seasons quickly approaching, I thought it would be great to talk about some of the off-season training that should be done leading up to the season.
To perform at the highest level within your sport, training with the right methods makes a huge difference. The most effective method of training, called periodization, breaks down the year into different cycles based on when the sport season is. These cycles help build on one another in order to prepare the body for the stresses it undergoes during competition. Granted, it gets alittle more complicated when you have such a long sport season such as motocross but these will still apply.
Phase 1 = Preparation: In this phase, you are returning your body from the recovery phase of the last season and focusing on fun activity. The activities should not necessarily be focused on sport, but rather something fun you enjoy to do that is exercise at the same time such as hiking. This should last for about a month and work towards slowly building fitness with low-intensity, moderate-duration activities.
Phase 2 = Base Fitness: This phase is really where the bulk of your training will occur and the duration will depend on the sport. During this phase, you will increase your base fitness, focusing on increasing aerobic endurance and strength. It’s also the best area to work on any mobility issues, muscle impairments or muscle coordination impairments.
Phase 3 = Sport Specific Fitness: We are getting close to the sport season! Approximately 2 months leading up to the sport season or event, you will enter this phase. The focus is to train in a specific way that mimics the stresses you will undergo with your sport. This is where you would want to add high intensity intervals, sprints, etc as well as maintaining your strength. Also, you will want to practice your sport skills more in this phase and fine tune your techniques.
Phase 4 = Tapering: Tapering occurs 1-2 weeks prior to major athletic event (ie: running a marathon) and refers to decreasing your training volume by 80-90% and frequency by 20%. There will be a large decrease in training but still perform a small amount of short duration, high intensity sessions.
Phase 5 = Peaking: Following tapering period, an athlete will “peak”, meaning they are at their max fitness level for 1-4 weeks. With longer athletic seasons, these cycles will have to be broken down into mini cycles in between each event or race. Depending on the sport, you may also train so that your body peaks more than once during the season.
Phase 6 = Recovery: After the sport season or event is completed, the body should have time to recover from the sport. It’s best to take a break completely for a few weeks depending on the duration of the sport season and intensity of the season. When you have a long athletic season, recovery should be built into your weekly workouts.
(This is me racing last year)
With many people close to entering their sport season or training for a summer marathon or triathlon, you will most likely be in phase 2 or 3 right now. Remember that it is still important to encompass a well-rounded training program that includes cross-training and strength training to avoid injuries. A lot of the online training programs I come across do not include that. For example, most marathon training programs are strictly running and leave little room for any cross-training or weight lifting. Check out Fit and Toned’s online, sport-specific training programs to learn more at www.Fit-and-Toned.com. Goodluck with your training for the upcoming season and feel free to email me at FitandTonedWI@gmail.com or comment below with any questions.
American College of Sports Medicine. The Team Physician and Conditioning of Athletes for Sports: A Consensus Statement, 2000. http://www.amssm.org/MemberFiles/tpccs103101.pdf