How should I lift for the off-season vs the season and how do I peak for big events? I feel like I’m never at my strongest when I need to be.
Jeff from Iowa
Great question, Jeff. As we all know, there’s a great saying that goes like this:
[Tweet “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”]
That is so true in Strength and Conditioning as well. If you don’t have a YEAR LONG (yes, year long) plan in place, then you won’t be prepared when big events come.
So, how do we plan things out?
Here are a few things we need to consider first:
Here at Stronger Wrestle, we utilize a “Block” Training system. The Annual plan is a Macrocycle, made up of Mesocycles, which are made up of Microcycles.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on the MesoCycles. There are 3 types of “Blocks” (or Mesocycles) within the system. They are:
This is a basic phase and generally the longest. The focus is General Athleticism, Max Strength, and Aerobic Endurance. This is best done at the beginning portion of the season or off-season to lay a strength foundation for the next phase.
Rules: Focus on strength (80-95% on compound lifts). Speed is not a huge factor…yet! Volume should be moderate to high. This phase is generally 4-6 weeks.
This is where we start to turn that Strength we gained from Accumulation into Speed/Power. Bar Velocity is INCREDIBLY important in this phase and the next.
Rules: Focus on Speed-Strength (55-80% compound lifts). Volume will be lower. Bar speed must be high. This phase is generally 2-4 weeks.
This phase should be the closest to big competition and is much shorter in length. The nervous system is trained and primed to move as fast and powerfully as possible. Everything done during this period must be done with 100% intensity and plenty of rest.
Rules: Focus on speed (<55%). Can be done for reps OR for time (40% squat for as many reps in 8 seconds). Volume is low. This phase generally lasts 1-3 weeks. Plyometrics are used a lot here.
Again, one of the reason the Strength and Conditioning volume tapers closer to a big competition is the increased volume at practice. Many coaches run two a days starting in January and it would be foolish to overtrain and risk decreased performance or even injury.
Remember, we’re training for OPTIMAL performance at big events so we want to have as many advantages as possible. Training adaptations like Maximal Strength and Aerobic Endurance (Physiological) aren’t lost as quickly as things like Speed (Neural).
Therefore, we plan out the best way to have all the desirable training effects at the same time.
|Component||Residual Effect (days)||Characteristics|
|Speed (maximal)||5 ±3||Neuromuscular and motor control, creatine phosphate recovery (Fast and powerful shots)|
|Strength Endurance||15 ±5||Slow twitch fiber hypertrophy, aerobic/anaerobic enzyme activity, local blood circulation, lactate tolerance (Ability to still be strong in the 3rd period or overtime)|
|Anaerobic Gycolytic Endurance||18 ±4||Anaerobic enzyme activity, lactate accumulation rate, buffering capacity, glycogen storage (Ability to still be powerful in the 3rd period or overtime)|
|Aerobic endurance||30 ±5||Aerobic enzymes activity, mitochondria number, glycogen storage, muscle capillaries, fat oxidation rate (Large gas tank)|
|Strength (maximal)||30 ±5||Neural control, muscular hypertrophy (Strong grip, lifts, etc)|
|< 5 ±3 days|
Putting it together
I understand this is a LOT to process. But it’s an important step in formulating a plan for your wrestlers as a coach. Thankfully, I’m making it a little easier. Here is a full calendar detailing the most important events in a high school wrestlers career and how to plan it out.
ACTIVE REST-NO WRESTLING!! Play tennis, soccer, etc. Just don’t look at a mat. (The Eastern Europeans do this often. And they do alright…it’s ok to allow your mind and body a break)
OFF-Literally, off. REST
AA-ANATOMICAL ADAPTATION. Essentially priming your body for the new cycle. This is done when you have taken a few weeks off from training.
So there you have it. A year long plan for peaking and building the Stronger Wrestler.