Guest Post by:
Katie Bracken, ATC, PES
Medical University of South Carolina
Sports Medicine Department

Summer isn’t a time to relax and sit in front of the TV!!...It’s the perfect time to condition, increase your fitness level and make your muscles bigger! Some relaxation can occur…of course at the beach, but make the most of your summer schedule and free time! Whether you play fall, winter or spring sports, it’s important to try to maintain your level of fitness for many reasons.Man in squat position

  1. It is easier to transition from off-season to in-season. It makes more sense for people to condition/train through the whole year/pre-season, right? BUT most athletes don’t…unfortunately most get lazy and comfy on the couch. Once the season starts, athletes who train pre-season will transition WAY more easily, be in better shape and be more prepared for the demands of the sport versus those who do not train. Athletes who train continuously will also be able to progress quicker into the sport specific workouts, conditioning and sport skills.
  2. Another huge reason to train during pre-season is injury prevention. If athletes jump right into conditioning, weight training and/or sport specific skills (like most) they put themselves at a higher risk for injuries to occur. Once an injury occurs and depending on the severity, the athlete could be out days, weeks or months. The more training an athlete can do to better prepare his/her joints/muscles and overall fitness, the chances of them being injured in-season are less likely. Another key injury prevention tip is: train for your sport. You don’t want track athletes completing volleyball exercises. Make sure to train for your specific use of upper extremity/lower extremity movements. For example: soccer: lower extremity and conditioning, volleyball: lower/upper extremity (focus is on the shoulder), football: upper/lower extremity and power movements, softball: upper extremity, power/sprint conditioning. It is also important to implement a proper warm-up and cool down. Again, it is better for the athlete to prepare ahead of time than to sit out a duration of time or the whole season.
  3. Just because you may not have access to a gym or gym equipment doesn’t mean you can’t get moving! Motivation and determination is all that is needed for a great workout! Like mentioned above, depending on the sport (or multiple) will determine the area/body part to focus on. Also note that many sports overlap in certain types of training, i.e., conditioning is great for all sports! A simple upper body circuit will activate the proper muscles used in upper extremity sports: push-ups, shoulder taps and dips (many variations) at 3 sets for 10 repetitions/movement. You may also add in certain rest periods: 3 sets for 10 with a 20 second rest in between movements to keep the heart rate elevated. For lower extremity sports, a circuit that involves squats, lunges, and squat jumps will activate the glutes, hamstrings and quads to prevent injury and build strength. A tabata workout is a type of H.I.I.T.  (high intensity interval training) workout designed to increase your heart rate throughout the circuit while completing specific movements. Another form of equipment free conditioning: RUNNING! Again, depending on your specific sport will determine which type of conditioning you should be training for, aerobic versus anaerobic. (A common topic that is typically overlooked is flexibility. It is important to incorporate flexibility training into workouts and conditioning especially when the muscles will be activated and stressed more during in-season competition.)
  4. The dreaded word…CONDITIONING or as most people see it…RUNNING! Conditioning has many benefits but it is also used in almost every sport…no reason not to run! Along with strength training, conditioning can be sport specific and will determine which type you should train for: aerobic or anaerobic, i.e., power/speed or endurance. Athletes may also feel the need to go from power sprints to endurance running. Besides training for a specific sport, running has many added health benefits: deceased blood pressure, decreased resting heart rate and increased weight only name a few.  

For the reasons stated above and many more, out-of-season and pre-season training is more beneficial versus no training. Your body and mind will be more prepared for the upcoming season and be able to meet the demands needed. Do your body a favor and don’t be lazy, you will never regret a workout!