Ideas For Your Off-Season

Ideas For Your Off-Season

  • October 12, 2017
  • Blog

Fall had arrived and most of us in the Northern Hemisphere are entering our Off-Season. So what exactly is the Off-Season? The term “Off-Season” can be a bit misleading to some. The Off-Season is not time taken off from training, but rather it is time taken off from racing. This all so crucial time away from racing allows you to focus more on your training to allow for bigger advancements in your overall fitness and future racing ability.

Here is how a year of training and competition looks to a committed, high level amateur or professional endurance athlete:

  • END OF SEASON BREAK: after a short 1-2 weeks of time off, truly ‘on vacation’ from their primary sport, they’re ready to get back into training in their off-season. 
    • Pro Tips: As a general rule of thumb, the older and/or lower training volume (ie. time crunched) the athlete, the shorter this break should be. If you only train 8-12 hours a week, you don’t need to take much of a break. Simply changing the type of training you do in the off-season will be enough of a break or change of pace. It is just too hard for most people to get back into ‘training mode’ and too much fitness can be lost if the break is too long. The younger or higher volume athlete may take up to 2 weeks off from training. These athletes will recover faster and have a higher fitness base that will not drop off as much with more rest time.
  • THE OFF-SEASON: the Off-Season is the larger chunk of time sandwiched between your short ‘end-o-season break’ (above) and the start of your competitive race season (below). With the stress of racing and being “race fit” removed in their off-season, they can focus purely on training to improve weaknesses and gain a higher level of fitness for the next race season.
    • Pro Tips: Depending on the athlete and when his/her race season begins, the off-season can be as short as a couple months (ie. end racing in October and begin racing in February); or it can be several months (ie. end racing in September and begin again in April). Keep in mind that the longer your off-season, the more time you have to train and improve your fitness and likely the greater improvement you’ll see in your racing ability the next season. Those athletes that can’t stay away from racing and pack their annual schedule full from spring through fall are often the ones that don’t improve a whole lot from year-to-year, or they are getting paid to compete (and are already at the top of their game!).
  • THE RACE SEASON: this is the time of year the bulk of their racing occurs (typically Spring through end of Summer or early Fall). This is when training becomes more race-specific as they build up their top priority events. Training also become more polarized, with their race prep training and recovery balance being of the most importance. During this time overall training volume often drops when compared to the hight of their off-season. This allows for more freshness as the begin to add the demands of racing to their schedule. This is why you must make the most of your Off-Season training, racing gets in the way of training once race season arrives!!
    • Pro Tips: You may still race in late in your off-season, but these are typically low-priority events that are done more as workouts and early season fitness gauges, opposed to races you are peaking for or looking to perform at your best. Your goal in the off-season is to build your fitness to the highest point, then once in race season you are sharpening your fitness to the specific demands of your goal event(s), and recovering between multiple events.

For most endurance athletes, you should be TRAINING to the best of your ability from November through April so you can RACE to the best of your ability in May through October!!

 

SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER FOR YOUR OFF-SEASON:

Move from ‘Least Specific’ to ‘More Specific’ training as your progress through your Off-Season.

  • As you enter your Off-Season training, your race season is many weeks, if not months, away. The further from a peak performance you are, the less sport specific your training needs to be. This ‘non-specific’ training allows for a nice change of pace, using muscles that aren’t frequently used, and ups the enjoyment factor of training differently. Weight training in the gym and cross-training by hiking, rowing or skiing are great examples of non-specific training. Then you can progress towards easy/slow base miles to build your aerobic system if your race-specific training is typically fast and powerful; or train the power and speed side of things if your target events are long distance (i.e.. slower) events like ironman or marathon mountain bike events. Later in your off-season you can progress towards training that gets closer to your target race demands as fitness improves.

Train Your Weaknesses First.

  • Similar to the “Least to More” Specific training progression described above, start your off-season training by focusing on your weakness(es). Again, racing is a ways down the road, so take the time to actually improve your ability this time of the year. Then as you move towards racing season, progress your training towards training your strengths. This method will encourage improvement early on and then build confidence as you approach race day.

Strength Train!

  • Don’t be afraid of the gym or ‘getting huge’ and slow. Improving the strength of your individual muscles fibers has been proven to improve power production, delay fatigue, and improve injury resistance. This can only be accomplished by moving your body in different ways than you’re accustom to and adding resistance.
  • Read my previous BLOG post about my strength training concept HERE

Break your Off-Season into Thirds.

  • Look at how many weeks you have available for your off-season training and divide the amount into three distinct training blocks that focus on the following…
    • 1/3 Focus = low-intensity, aerobic base building combined with building movement strength in the gym.
    • 2/3 Focus = medium-intensity, anaerobic threshold training combined with peak strength in the gym.
    • 3/3 Focus = small amounts of high intensity training combined with peak power in the gym.
  • From the completion of your Off-Season training, you’re ready to move into your Race Prep training and progressively back out the intensity; from high, where you finished off-season, to progressively lower as you build towards your goal race. As you back out the intensity you develop the volume (endurance) needed for your target event(s). Athletes focusing on races under 2 hours can often race very well right out of their off-season training, while racers looking at 2-5 hour long events need a block or two of extending endurance training to really peak, and ultra-distance racers need to add even a bit more volume to their program to be ready for their event demands.
  • Read my previous BLOG post about my aerobic conditioning concept HERE

Get on the Trainer!

  • The trainer is perhaps the perfect environment for improving your cycling economy, strength, and power. Through training with the new generation of Smart Trainers in our S:6 Trainer Studio the last three years, I’ve seen larger improvements on the bike than ever before. By utilizing cadence, power, and heart rate you can maximize your time and make the most out of your off-season training on the bike.
  • Check out my 24-week Off-Season Trainer Plan available on Training Peaks

Don’t think you can’t race.

  • You can still race while in your “off-season”. Most people do. And you can sometimes race particularly well in the last third of your off-season training. You want to create your annual training program targeting a few goal events for the year.  Starting your off-season, it may be 6-8 months until your next “A” race, but you will likely (and should) race a few times before your first target event. Plan your Off-Season to finish with 3-12 weeks of Race Prep training before your “A” race (depending on duration of A race). Go ahead and plop some races into your program along the way for both fun and to gauge fitness and race-readiness as you approach your target events.

 

If you like what you’ve read thus far, consider my Complete Off-Season Training Program for cyclists of all kinds and triathletes looking to make a statement on the bike next season. If you live in the Denver area you can join us for in-person training from November through April, or for those that live outside of Denver you can download my program via Training Peaks and follow along at home on your trainer and at the gym on your own.

Learn More:  Complete Off-Season Program

What ever you decide and what ever your training & racing goals are for the next season, be sure to make the most out of your Off-Season. Don’t let this valuable time of the year pass without maximizing your fitness gains that will lead to better performance when your  next Race Season rolls around.

 

Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Sessions:6 Sport Performance. Looking for help with your endurance sport training? Check out S:6’s Training Plans, Team Programs, and  Personal Coaching options created to fit your needs and budget.

The Six Components Of Fitness Of Sessions:6

The Six Components of Fitness of Sessions:6

It’s common thought that to become a better athlete you simply need to train more and push harder to be successful. 

Many athletes are familiar with the 10,000 hour rule which states that it requires 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to obtain elite level proficiency in your sport. In many ways this concept holds true; you need to put in the time for your body to adapt to and learn the skills and movements required to perform at a high level of sport. However, we have found that there is more to the equation of improvement in sports than simply just training more. You certainly can and do become a better athlete simply by doing more of what you are striving to improve; more hours on the bike, more miles on the run, or more time in the gym. Assuming you have the time and fitness to spend 5+ hours a day training your sport, in time, you will become highly competent in your sport, allowing you to compete at a very high level.

There’s no question that if you put in the time, you will improve. But is this high volume, single-focused training approach the right way to maximize performance? Maybe, maybe not. Is it the only way to maximize performance? Definitely not.

Then what is the ‘right’ way or ‘best’ way to improve as an athlete?

There are many theories out there to follow, however we have found the answer to be: “It depends.” It depends on who the athlete is. How old is the athlete, what is the athlete’s background in sport, what is the athlete’s lifestyle, do they have a job, do they have a family, do they have the time, energy and physical capacity to allow them to train 30+ hours a week, week in and week out? If you’re a 20-something year old, athletic individual with minimal life stress and plenty of financial backing then it’s time to put in the big volume. However, if you’re over thirty, have to make money to support yourself and/or your family, or are a less than perfect physical specimen, then simply doing more of the same thing is not the best path to follow to reach your fullest potential.

Through working with hundreds of different athletes coming from all shapes and sizes of background in sport, we have found that there are six essential components required to maximize fitness and athletic development.

So how is the aspiring athlete going to maximize improvement when spending endless hours cranking out the effort is not an option? We have found over the years that all athletes must make fitness and sport a lifestyle, much like a professional, focusing on both the large and the small components of fitness to build the best possible athlete they can be. We have identified six key elements that are crucial to athletic success, and they can all be implemented regardless of the individual experience level or the amount of time the athlete has to devote to their sport.

The SIX elements of sport performance that make up the SESSIONS:6 Sport Performance philosophy:

  • Aerobic Conditioning

  • Strength & Stability

  • Skill Proficiency

  • Diet & Nutrition

  • Stress Management

  • Mental Fitness

By learning, incorporating and striving to always improve upon these six key components of fitness, an athlete will be better able to reach their fullest potential in sport performance.

The first three components, aerobic conditioning, muscular stability, and skill proficiency make up the physical “training” an athlete with do.

Aerobic conditioning can be achieved by not only spending more time performing their sport, but also through various modalities of cross-training during specific times of the year. Training aerobic endurance by going longer at times, as well as incorporating moderate and high intensity interval training, at and above an athlete’s aerobic and anaerobic thresholds at specific points in their training year, will improve their aerobic conditioning.

Including muscular strength and joint stability training will improve an athlete’s range of motion, application of force, and overall durability. Improper joint mobility and/or joint stability limits nearly every athlete in some manner. Improving these characteristics through proper strength training modalities, an athlete will become more efficient and able to use more of their given maximal aerobic capacity.

Developing the skills to move the body in the most efficient manner is critical to maximizing strength, power, speed and endurance. Wasted energy through improper movements not only slows you down but wastes valuable energy, limiting your performance. By incorporating drills into an athlete’s training program they will be able to maximize gains in strength and power as well as achieve a higher usage of their given maximal aerobic capacity.

The last three key components, diet & nutrition, stress management, and mental fitness are efforts made in between the physical training sessions.

These details require as much or more effort to incorporate into an athlete’s routine, but they can also often yield some of the biggest results.

Most athletes are aware of the importance of nutrition but few actually take it seriously for any length of time. Through optimal nutrition you not only perform better on race day, but you are also able to achieve optimal body composition for improved performance, optimal energy levels to improve training capacity, and optimal hormone operation within the body to improve health and recovery.

Recovery between training sessions is critical to maximize your training consistency and adaptation. Learning and incorporating proper recovery methods as well as recognizing other forms of stress in your your life and adjusting your training accordingly will allow you to train more effectively and get more from each training session.

Finally, perhaps the most neglected and overlooked component of success in sport is the power of the mind. Getting yourself in the right mindset to train to your fullest potential and compete to maximum ability is one of the toughest things for athletes to learn. It is subsequently also one of the most important abilities for athletes to transform themselves into champions. Practicing mental strategies and learning how to train and compete to your true ability will unlock the complete athlete within you.

To become the best athlete you can become and reach your fullest potential in the least amount of time possible, you must address these six crucial components of sport performance development: aerobic conditioning, strength & stability, skill proficiency, diet & nutrition stress management, and mental fitness.

When any one of these components is neglected or underdeveloped, an athlete will fall short of their maximum ability. Don’t fall into the trap that there is only one path to improvement, doing the same thing over and over. Rather, choose to expand your vision and athletic ability by addressing these six components of fitness to allow yourself to continually evolve and improve as an athlete.

By incorporating these 6 components into your daily training and lifestyle you will be able to consistently improve your performance year after year.

Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Sessions:6 Sport Performance. Looking for help with your endurance sport training? Check out S:6’s Training Plans, Team Programs, and  Personal Coaching options created to fit your needs and budget.

II. Muscular Strength

II. Muscular Strength

Our training philosophy revolves around the idea of maximizing six components fitness (read about the concept HERE). This post will focus on element number 2: Muscular Strength. The idea that there are six areas of development required for endurance athletes to maximize their fitness came about from years of working with endurance athletes coming from a variety of different backgrounds. Improved muscular strength is one area that we continually see needing attention in nearly every athlete we work with (including ourselves). We’re not talking about moving big weights around, making a lot of grunting noises (well, maybe a little grunting), and using the word “bro” throughout your training dialogue kind of strength training; we’re talking about moderate to light weight and body-weight exercises performed in functional movements that apply to your sport.  Developing the core stability required to maintain form and function when you’re deep into your race should be the goal in your strength training and the following paragraphs will help you understand why we think this is true.

Most endurance athletes are surprisingly weak.

Sure they can complete a marathon, an Ironman, or even a 100 mile foot race through mountainous terrain, but none of that necessarily equates to them being particularly strong or stable. Strong in will and determination, perhaps, but ask them to perform a one-legged squat and not have their knee track to the inside or execute a single-leg prone bridge and not have their hip drop, and more often than not, they can’t do it. Many will claim that endurance athletes don’t need to be “strong”, rather they argue that aerobic fitness is the most important thing and that any time spent training outside of their primary sport is a waste of time. They say for example, “If you want to be better at running, you simply need to run more.” Aerobic fitness is certainly required to participate in endurance sports and it is true the more you run the better a runner you will become; however, time spent improving your muscle recruitment, strength, flexibility, and stability will improve your economy of movement. This means you will be able to move (with what fitness you have) more powerfully and efficiently while wasting less energy and minimizing potential injuries. All which in turn, yield faster speeds and increased endurance at the same level of aerobic fitness.

Pure muscular strength, the muscle’s ability to apply force to a stationary object, is what allows us to move.

When swimming, we apply force to the water, pulling ourselves forward with every stroke; when riding a bike, we apply force to the pedals while turning the cranks at high cadences to produce more power; when running, every foot strike applies force to the ground for the push off, and with appropriate stability and flexibility allowing increased stride lengths and stride rates, we run faster and faster. Through the implementation of resistance training you can increase the force-producing capabilities of the “major muscles” that contribute to forward movement. Exercises like squats, deadlifts, leg curls, leg extensions (to name a few) will train the force-producing quadriceps, hamstrings and glute muscle groups; exercises like pull-ups, pull-downs, chest press, rows, shoulder shrugs and presses will train the larger back and shoulder muscles for force-producing movement strength. A stronger muscle will be able to produce more force for the power required to move as well as fatigue at a slower rate, thus increasing your muscular endurance.

There are several other factors to consider when addressing the concept of muscular strength. Equally important, and perhaps even more valuable to the endurance athlete is the concept of muscular stability. This concept focuses more on the “minor muscles” that don’t necessarily contribute directly to forward movement. These muscles include, but are not limited to, the collection of core muscles that surround the hips, including the lower back and deep abdominal muscles. Stability and power in all sports initiates from the hips and extends outwards to the limbs that make the movement happen.

Excess movement beyond that which is required to execute forward movement is wasted energy, and this excess movement occurs from lack of stability.

Wasted energy occurs in running when your hips drop from side to side with each stride, or your knee dives inward or outward with each step, for example. “Fish-tailing” when swimming indicates lack of core stability and wastes energy as you move down the lane wiggling from side to side with each stroke. Rocking hips and/or upper body movement when cycling is another example of wasted energy that stems from a lack of stability in the hips. Along with hip stability, shoulder stability is another critical area that requires attention for swimmers (or any activity involving power production from the arms). Stabilize the hips and shoulders with specific training movements and you improve your form, efficiency, power production and endurance. Time well spent.

A factor that coincides with stability surrounding a joint is flexibility. Joint flexibility contributes to range of motion which is essential to producing power for movement. Anyone with inflexible joints can attest to the limited power and speed that is attainable. On the contrary, hypermobile joints that are “overly flexible” can create issues of instability and possible injury. An increase in muscular strength surrounding the hypermobile joint can often improve the stability for those individuals. Just like strengthening muscles with specific exercises, you can improve your flexibility and range of motion with specific exercises. By honing your flexibility (either minimizing or maximizing) your surrounding joints will become more stable and powerful, and in the long run, be less prone to injuries.

Being able to perform an endurance sport event requires your muscles to repeat movement over and over for many minutes to several hours. Overuse injuries are a major cause of missed training and unmet goals for endurance athletes. If your muscles are not functioning in the way they were designed, you are putting increased stress on your other soft tissue and joints.

Training muscles to function or ‘fire’ correctly when called upon, and for longer periods of time, requires specific training.

We engage our larger ‘primary mover’ muscles very easily when training, but often the smaller supporting muscles get overpowered or neglected causing them to ‘turn off.’ These muscle ‘imbalances’ often lead to frustrating niggles, if not full blown injuries, that can derail an athlete’s training and racing objectives. By activating these smaller muscles with stability training exercises, you allow them to ‘turn on’ in conjunction with your dominant muscles both improving your economy of movement and resistance to injury.

Fortunately, many endurance athletes embrace the idea of strength training. Most athletes typically include some form of strength training for several weeks during their off-season. Unfortunately, most athletes end up dropping their strength training sometime early in their pre-season training, either because they are bored due to limited knowledge of core exercises or they feel it gets in the way of their sport-specific training. This is an unfortunate occurrence. For long-term continuing improvements to occur from year to year, it is critical to include strength and stability training throughout the entire year. Your return on investment in strength and stability training includes increased force and power production with decreased rate of muscular fatigue for forward movement, increased economy of movement with less wasted energy and ability to tap into more of your given aerobic capacity, and more consistent training and capacity for higher training loads due to increased injury resistance. For these reasons alone, endurance sports athletes should make strength and stability training a high priority in their overall annual training program in order to reach their highest level of performance.


Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Sessions:6 Sport Performance. Looking for help with your endurance sport training? Check out S:6’s Training Plans, Team Programs, and  Personal Coaching options created to fit your needs and budget.

“In-Season” Strength Sessions

“In-Season” Strength Sessions

You’ve trained hard all Winter & Spring and now the busy & competitive Summer season has arrived. As you head outside more don’t lose all your hard earned strength and mobility gains you’ve made in the gym… Or maybe you’ve neglected your strength and mobility training so far this year and want to make improvements in those areas? It’s not too late!

The Sessions:6 “In-Season” Strength & Stability Sessions are here to help!

Join us Tuesdays & Thursdays at 12:15pm or 6:00pm for one-hour, coach led, training sessions that focus on developing and maintaining strength, stability, and mobility for the endurance athlete to keep them happy, healthy and moving at their best all summer long. Training sessions are designed to compliment your endurance sport training and not detract from them. Maintaining strength throughout the racing season is key to staying healthy and fast, but also to making continued improvements into your next season of training.

Maintain your gains or start making them now!

Training Sessions Include:

  • Dynamic Warm-Ups to get your body moving through full range of motion
  • Plyometric Drills & Exercises to maintain muscle elasticity and power production
  • Strength movements focusing on the posterior chain to offset our seated/hunched over modern lifestyle, and “push-pull” movements for the upper body
  • Core stability exercises to improve postural alignment and support the low back and hips
  • and focused stretching at the end to maintain/improve mobility through all the major joints

Details:

  • Days: Every Tuesday & Thursday, June through August
  • Times: 12:15pm to 1:15pm* & 6:00pm to 7:00pm
  • Experience Needed: None. Modifiable to all experience levels
  • Cost: Punchcard or Monthly Membership Options…
    • $160 for a 10-punch Punchcard (also redeemable for other S:6 training sessions)
    • $85 per month, unlimited Strength & Stability Sessions only
    • other Monthly Memberships available including Strength & Stability Sessions

Come join us this Summer to get high quality functional movement training in a fun, safe and motivating group environment!

2017 Summer Teen Program

2017 Summer Teen Program

  • April 30, 2017
  • Blog

For the 2nd summer, Sessions:6 Sport Performance is offering a sport conditioning program designed especially for teens. The program is designed to prepare your teen athlete for their Fall sport in a safe, fun and positive environment. The program will include strength training, plyometrics, core conditioning and mobility.

Our 2-month Teen Program is designed to keep your teenage athlete(s) active throughout the summer months with cross-training and skill development that will enhance their sport specific conditioning prior to their Fall and Winter school sport seasons. Each coach-led class includes a proper warm-up, instruction, evaluation of skill level, and cool-down to maximize effectiveness and safety. Individual training sessions will vary the focus between aerobic conditioning, strength work, skill development, speed & power training, and flexibility to keep things fun, fresh and exciting for the participants.

8 Weeks, 2x a Week, 16 Sessions:

  • When: June 6th-July 27th
  • Days:  Tuesdays & Thursdays
  • Times: 10:15am OR 11:15am
  • Cost: $200

Discounts:

  • $20 off first teenager if signed up before May!
  • Only $150 for second teenager (sibling)
  • Only $100 for third teenager (sibling)

Program will Include:

  • Weight Training
  • Plyometric Training
  • Cardio Conditioning
  • Core & Mobility Work

Participants will Improve:

  • Strength
  • Aerobic Capacity
  • Skill & Coordination
  • Speed & Power

 

Sign Up Today! 

Purchase your slot early as sessions are limited to 12 athletes each.

Please select from 10:15a or 11:15a slots on Tuesdays & Thursdays each week.


Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 10:15am




Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 11:15am



Frequently Asked Questions

“We have a summer vacation planned and will miss a week or two. Can my teen still attend?

Yes! We expect most kids to have busy schedules and family trips planned in the summer. Come train with us as much as you can, and when you miss a day, a week, or more, just attend when you’re back in town.

My teen is enrolled in a summer sport already. Is adding this going to be too much for them?

That depends on the sport and the activity level. If they are already practicing a sport for several hours a day on daily basis, then yes, this is likely too much to add. However, if they are practicing a sport for an hour a day 2-5 days a week, then adding this hour of training could be easily added and even be a big benefit for their development.

My kid is 12. Can they still attend?

Please contact [email protected] to discuss your tween’s athletic ability, physical fitness and emotional maturity. A decision will be made on a case-by-case basis.

My teen can attend only 1 day1 a week. Can he/she still participate?

Yes! Your teen will still gain great value from coming once a week. Each session is individually programmed.