Maintaining Strength for Team Sports In Season

I was hoping some of you guys could give me your thoughts on mainataing strength as the season progressed for team sports …

For example :
How often should team athletes train for Strength during the season?

Charles Polquin states that muscle size is crtical to mainatining strength levels.

How do some athletes strength seem to develop or peak for the play-offs even after a very hard season - e.g. Jordan, Pippen?

Thoughts? …

i think that since basketball is so taxing on the body at that level, they don’t need to do much heavy weight training, during the season.

as for jordan, pip and the bulls, they normally secured their play-off spot early on, so as the season was drawing to an end they were able to rest more down the stretch.
veteran players like them, know how to conserve energy. and how to raise intensity.

Check Joe Kenns log at (Coach H). The log is his in season football program. His athletes get stronger during the season.

I doubt if it’s that those athletes strength actually increases, it just seems that way because the other athletes are getting weaker as the season progresses. It’s like a seriously conditioned athlete who can run a 4.4 through a whole workout. It’s not that he starts running 4.3’s in the end of the workout, but that everyone else is running 4.7 or 4.8’s.

Kenn posts how many athletes set PR’s during the ME sessions at the end of each training log.

i’d approach football and basketball are totally different. with football you only play once a week. so there is more time to lift.

remember, don’t just lift to lift. the skill of the sport is the first priority.

True - though I think the fact Playoffs were assured early also gave them time to lift more in preparation for the Palyoffs - no?

I’ll check that out - 101pro - thanks for that …

I’m struggling to cut down on the weights room work as I’m afraid my strength will suffer - yet the amount of lifting I’m doing is hampering my freshness for weekend games …

It is VERY rare that a football team gets stronger during the course of a season.

Kenn uses a 3x3 system (3x/week 3 main lifts followed by post chain). Very low volume

i think you’re going about this with the wrong mentality.
every night the bulls had a target on them. everyone wanted to come after them, every team was pumped to play them. if anything the reduced playing time near the end of the season, and clinching the playoffs gave them more time to recover physically and mentally.

for yourself, depending on how you feel physically you’d have to decide if you near the end of the season your time would be best spent lifting or recovering.

how old are you no23? what level do you play at?

i agree, i’m just saying with games only once per week it’s easier to get your lifting in. when i play in highschool i’d follow a bill starr approach, lifting twice per week during the season, or even do no lifting at all.

I think it’d be dumb to not lift at all in-season. Then what’s the point of lifting in the off-season if you’re going to lose it. DeFranco said he noticed if you maintain your muscle size that you keep most of your strength. So he just has 2 30 minute sessions that are more like bodybuilding workouts to keep muscle size. That shouldn’t be too hard to fit in. If you wanted more complicated then look at what Coach H or X does.

About Jordan and the Bulls…the NBA season is so long that people sometimes coast, but everyone just steps up their game in the playoffs. It’s just that Jordan stepping it up is 2 levels above everyone else’s and brings up his teammates as well. Also, I don’t think basketball players take near the beating that an NFL player does.

i’m not anti-lifting, in my original post i said that one doesn’t need ‘much heavy lifting’ ie. CNS taxing stuff. i didn’t say they need to do any lifting at all. everyone has to judge their own level of ‘freshness’.

but the last couple weeks of the regular season, if i have any bumps or bruises i’d be more concerned with recovery than lifting.

no23. if you’re not feeling fresh for your games then clearly you’re doing too much.

i definutely argee jordan stepped up his game in the playoffs a few levels, but can you really say he was coasting during the season!?!

as for who takes a greater beating…guess that depends on position in the game.


It is certainly important to continue weight training during the season to maintain the qualities you developed in the the off season.

There are several principles I beleive you should follow.

  1. 1-2 sessions per week
  2. Lower body at least 4 days before playing
  3. Volume low and intensity medium to high
  4. Upper body can be performed 2 days prior to competition

An example of a 1-day a week session might be:

Prehab / Core Circuit

Hang Clean 3 sets of 4 reps
Deadlift 2 sets of 4 reps
Bench Press 2 sets of 4 reps
Chins 2 sets of 4 reps

I agree with the above but would like an observation from my internship with a pro team here in Europe.Day before the game rate of force development ie jump squats,explosive step ups, olimpic lifts and derivatives with lighter weight, focus on speed.It’s supposed to wake the nervous system for the next day(that was the coache’s opinion anyway)

how does the team perform on game day? are their legs fresh? as the season wears on you’ll see how well it’s working.
day before a game i’d stick to a light shot-around.

Thanks all for the input,

[Of course Murphys law - I had a long reply typed last night and lost it just as I was sending it (doh!!)]


Some good points here …

One of my main issues here is the physicological impact of being in the gym 2-4 times a week.
Damn - you feel strong!!!
You feel as though you can take on anything and this confidence comes form the weigths lifted in the gym … stopping the gyms sessions or sutting down tends to make me doubt as to whether or not I have still the same strength levels?

For this reason I find it very hard to cut down.

Re: Jordan
OK I think I made an error bringing up his name as he was an exception to the rule… but my point was to demonstrate that over the length of a season an athlete must maintain their strength if not increase it for the playoffs.

Thanks Gilman,
I was hoping for somethign - ideally a guide like that.
I’ve been doing some 5 x 5 and 3 x 8 work - but I felt I was pushing it a bit too hard and I’ve been picking up a few niggles over the past 2 weeks.

I’ll try some 4 x 2 work and see how it goes for a bit.

Thanks again for all the input


I hear what you are saying with regards feeling strong with more weights sessions. You major area of concern is overtraining or simply failing to recover. Performance in competition is obviously most important.

I think you can train more often with weights but the following rules must be obeyed!

  1. Low number of exercises / sets per session
  2. Maximum number of resistance training sessions is 3 (i’d prefer 2)
  3. Lower body be only trained once early in the week

I’d be interested in what training programme you come up with.

Currently I’m working through a body building split for these 2 weeks while my groin heals up just to add a lb or two and challange the muscles and body slightly differently from very heavy lifting to slightly heavier weights.

[The groin is slow to heal - though I can get through 1/2 a game (I played at the weekend after deciding to take 2 weeks - it was good enough to run with etc - and felt fine) - the next day I suffered for it.]

My Normal Week previous to this was generally outlined as …
Sunday - Game:
Monday - Recovery - Tempo
Tuesday - Am - Sprinting, PM - Heavy Weights - Squat, Bench, Chin Ups, DL, Straight Leg DL etc. 4 or 5 exercises, 5-6 sets of 4-5 reps.
Wednesday - Am - Tempo, PM - Light Stretching - Team Practice -
Thursday - Am - Sprinting, PM - Dynamic Weights - 40-60% Fast Reps, 5 sets of 5.
Friday - Team Training
Saturday - Off

The idea here was that the heavy lifting helped keep and even improve my max strength while the dynamic work primed me for the weekend games.
However all the travelling and training is starting to take it’s toll now.

I am probably doing a little much at the minute …

The past 2 weeks I’m sleeping way more than usual and even sleeping in. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m back on the ZMA (surely it isn’t this potent? - it wasn’t before) but I do notice a tiredness creeping in … anyway …

I think though I’ll switch to perhaps one Lifting session a week or split the body into Upper and Lower?

S - Game
M - Recovery - Tempo
T - Speed - Lower Body Strength work
W - Fartlek - Light work
T - Speed - (Upper Body Strength work?)
F - Team Training
S - Rest

… OR … I could just keep the program as I have it - but drop the volumes drastically to 2 X 3 or 3 X 2’s ?
This way mentally I feel as though I’m getting similar work done but the overall intensity drain is smaller …??

Whats team practice like on Wednesdays, 23?

Volume of weights on Tuesday reads very high…