It’s off season at Hammer Athletic. This means we are all participating in an off season program. Read on to learn all about how and why we are executing this in January. – By Matt Ham
Now that most of you have had a well-deserved break over the Christmas/New year period, it is important that we start the New Year in a strategic manner. I call January’s Phase of training our off season. While I know some of you are extra keen and want to get back in to (perhaps due to a few over-indulgences over the break – no judgement), it is important that we don’t go too hard to soon.
I don’t doubt that over the break there has been an element of deconditioning and strength losses, but it is no different to an athlete coming back after a brief holiday and beginning some off season training to get back some strength and work capacity standards before the rigors of the preseason starts.
So before our preseason starts in February (see German Volume Training Clinic) we have to undergo a program that helps get us back to some level of strength and work capacity in order maximise our results from preseason. By this I mean, if we were to go straight in to a program like GVT after an extended break, our bodies firstly would probably break down with some overuse or tendonitis type injuries and the ability to hold accurate intensities would also be dramatically reduced due to our reduced capacity to sustain a workload.
In simple terms; because our work capacity (conditioning) is down, if we were to do 10 sets of 10 at 50-60% our 1RM (as you will be doing in GVT) your body’s ability to recover from set to set will diminish. This is because our peripheral fatigue markers like lactic acid thresholds, increased ventilation, neural/muscle fatigue and mental capacity etc. will be magnified more than usual. This will force us to either lose form or have to reduce from our desired 50-60% 1RM intensity. When this happens you won’t receive the same benefits as outlined in GVT but rather, you’d pretty much be performing an energy system training session. Don’t get me wrong, GVT has a high element of metabolic conditioning, but because we are lifting weights heavier than what you would do in classes or conditioning sessions we get the anabolic response from the muscles.
It is therefore imperative to re-establish a few things prior to such a program. If you were anything like me over the break, I did a lot of laying down, walking around, nana naps and generally very limited movement over the break. This effects not only strength and conditioning reductions, but some of our motor patterns and neural drive is diminished. So off season in January is really about getting some base strength back, increasing our work capacity and finally teaching the old body to perform the movements we were so accustomed to prior to Christmas. The good news is that if you participated in our overreaching clinic you will have mitigated some of the natural losses so the road back won’t be as daunting.
The Off Season Program
Our off season program is periodised in a linear fashion whereby week 1 is at moderate intensity and load. Then week by week those parameters are slowly but surely increased with a slight de-training week prior to GVT in February.
We will not be performing any testing until the 1st week of GVT, I believe any testing done at this point and time doesn’t accurately portray wheret we are for most of the year. Plus, seeing as we publicly display all our findings every 6 months, I don’t want our results to resemble any cherry picking or skewed findings just because we tested our clients at the start of the year when they were de-trained. I want our clients to improve when they are in the normal routines and levels so it ACCURATELY depicts our improvements and failures.