H1: Offseason Training Can Keep You in Shape and Ready for The Game
By Brooke Pengel, M.D.
Ever see your favorite athlete show up for training camp in bad shape? The coaches aren’t very happy, because good coaches and trainers know that exercise in the offseason is just as important as physical training and practice during the season. Offseason training can keep your cardiovascular system fit and your muscles in the condition needed for the strenuous activity that will prepare athletes to perform at their peak.
Get a physical before you get physical
As always, it’s important to check in with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to participate in any regular exercise program. It’s the same case for offseason training. Developing a plan with your doctor for training and conditioning will ensure you’re ready for your season -- and make sure you have any off-season injuries checked out right away so they don’t get in the way competition.
Maintain healthy nutrition during the offseason
Just because it’s the offseason, training and diet shouldn’t take a backseat. Gaining and losing weight again and again is hard on your body, so it’s best to keep a regimen of well-balanced meals year around. Hydration is also important -- especially in our high altitude here in Colorado -- so make sure to drink plenty of water whether you’re exercising or just hanging out. A good rule of thumb is one once of water for every two pounds you weigh each day (so if you weigh 100 pounds, make sure to drink at least 50 ounces of water every day).
Also, the off-season is a great time to set and achieve fitness goals through nutrition. Whether it is gaining muscle or losing weight, what you eat plays a large role in helping you reach that goal. While every child is different, here are some general nutrition tips for each goal:
Goal: Slimming Down: For athletes looking to lose weight in the off season, cutting 500-750 calories a day is the general rule, but make sure to do this the right way. Instead of cutting out meals or snacks, replace high-calorie beverages like soda or coffee drinks with healthy fruit smoothies and low-calories juices. Avoid weight-loss supplement drinks and pills because they contain high levels of caffeine and other stimulants and focus on lowering your calorie intake.
Goal: Gaining Muscle Mass: When you are in the middle of your season, focus tends towards technique, optimum fitness and competing at your best. Therefore, the off-season is the best time to focus on muscle gain. For your diet, focus on consuming about 500 more calories per day. These should be protein-based calories such as fish, chicken and lean red meat. Athletes striving for increased muscle mass should consume a snack that contains 10-20 grams of protein about one hour before working out. Protein bars and shakes can easily offer this nutrition. Be weary of supplements that offer extreme amounts of protein in little doses. While bars and shakes are good as pre-workout snacks, do not use them as meal replacements.
Stay on track all year
After your season ends, it’s perfectly OK to change it up and enjoy the offseason. Training, maintaining balanced nutrition and staying hydrated can make sure you’re ready to train hard and have a great season next year. And you can vary your activities in your off-season. It’s a great chance to try some activities you may not have time for during your sport’s season -- many athletes find other sports they love during off-season training. Olympic speed skating legend Eric Heiden used cycling as part of his training for that sport, and went on to a cycling career after the Olympics and raced in the 1986 Tour de France.
For some great offseason training tips, expert advice and health blogs, check out the HealthONE Red Rocks 90 Day Fitness Challenge Facebook page.