The off-season is a great time to allow your body recover from a busy season of running, lifting, biking, or any number of exciting workouts. But, that doesn’t mean you’ll be sitting in front of the fire for the next couple of months! These weeks are focused on maintenance and getting your body prepared for a healthy, injury-free season in the months ahead. Here are our top tips for optimal off-season training:
Foam Rolling Is Your Friend
Have you ever felt like you couldn’t get deep enough into a squat or a lunge because you felt some worrisome tightness? Those prickly, bumpy Lincoln Log-shaped pieces of foam are going to be your best friend and worst enemy over the next few weeks. Foam rolling breaks up the adhesions – also called scar tissue – to keep you injury free. This scar tissue gets stuck together and limits mobility which increases your chance of injury, but you can break up those muscle fibers!
Without looming deadlines, take some time in your off-season to really break up those tight areas like your IT Band, hamstrings, and hips. Your muscles will thank you!
Get Back to Basics
No one is perfect, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t take every chance to improve! The off-season is the time to work on basics that might have slipped during your more intense training. If you’re a swimmer, spend some time and money on a swim stroke analysis to see how you can become more efficient. If you love to run, attend a running workshop to find out how you can improve your form and cadence. Taking a break from your bodybuilding or powerlifting? Recruit a personal trainer to really hit the fine points of form and fluid motion.
Whether you’re a novice or a dedicated athlete, going back to basics is always a good idea.
Step Up Your Mental Game
Champions don’t just train like champions; they think like champions. Any athlete can tell you that exercise is just as much of a physical game as it is a mental game. So, focusing on physical training alone will shortchange your results! To really excel in 2018, take some time in your off-season to pick up a self-help book on confidence and mental endurance or go visit a psychologist to get a check-up on where your head is at. Don’t forget that your mental health is just as important as your physical health, if not more. It’s more than worth your time!
Take Time Off
This is probably one of the hardest things to do for those who are truly dedicated to their fitness or sport. Hanging up those running shoes might feel like a punishment, but taking a break is critical for athletic success! Failing to pull yourself away from the gym can increase your risk of overtraining and burnout.
If you’re finding time off to be especially hard, book that vacation you’ve been putting off or spend time with family and friends. Not only will you feel more excited to hit the gym once you start training again, but you’ll also be in a better place to become stronger than before!
Prepare For Bad Weather
Bad weather is just a part of winter training, so it’s important to be prepared. Checking the weather beforehand to make sure you have the proper gear is helpful, but you should also have these in your car just in case! Be flexible in your training as well. It’s okay to move your training sessions around, but never go out if the risk of injury is high with low temperatures and icy weather. Check out this post for more ideas on cold-weather training!