Preseason strength and conditioning programs prepare athletes for their grueling upcoming season. In particular, building a strength foundation is important for improving skills, preventing future injury, and quickly enhancing overall fitness. In the offseason, athletes are resting to mentally and physically recharge for another year of competition. Although preseason strength and conditioning is challenging, it helps athletes transition into high-intensity training and keep them strong throughout their competition season.
Preseason strength and conditioning programs focus on re-engaging and activating an athlete's muscles after the restful off-season. Before athletes can dive into speed, skill, and power training, they need to focus on regaining full-body strength. More specifically, strength training should involve exercises that progressively increase muscle strength and hypertrophy. All athletes begin with a different strength baseline, so it's important to assess each athlete’s movement patterns individually and start with bodyweight exercises. This general assessment ensures that athletes master the technique first before progressing to more complex exercises that ultimately enhance strength. Progressing from bodyweight to loaded exercises, and continuing to increase weight while maintaining good form will build strength as muscle groups respond and adapt to the stimulus of lifting. At first, a particular exercise may be difficult. When muscles are signaled to resist a force, they respond by creating more muscle tissue and improving the force of each contraction. Once this occurs, the same exercise is no longer challenging. Athletes must find the balance between adding weight to challenge themselves and maintaining flawless technique during the season. To learn more about cyclic training and progressions check out this article.
Additionally, using preseason to strengthen muscles surrounding joints helps reduce the risk of injury. If muscles can support joints at risk, such as the shoulder of a swimmer, the ankle of a basketball player, or the knee of a runner, athletes can have a successful and injury-free season. A review in the Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that strength and conditioning training reduces sports injuries to less than 1/3 and overuse injuries were almost halved. With a long competitive season down the road, athletes should take advantage of preseason strength training and minimize injury.
Working hard before the season starts reduces an athlete’s chance of injury, stimulates their muscle growth, and improves overall fitness. In addition, starting strong and healthy enables athletes to fine-tune sport-specific skills and work toward other goals during the season. Preseason strength and conditioning programs prepare athletes for the long and grueling season and ultimately maximizes athlete performance. To learn more about designing an effective strength and conditioning program check out this article.