In Season Training

By Mark Asanovich

Contrary to popular opinion, in-season strength training should not be administered as a maintenance program. The goal of the in-season strength program is exactly the same as the off-season program. That is, to develop optimum levels of muscular strength. To develop maximal levels of muscular strength requires maximal levels of intense effort. If a player perceives his goal as merely to maintain his strength level, he will reciprocate with a sub-maximal level of intensity. On the other hand, if the expectation is to get stronger, the player will respond in a manner that will elicit a maximal effort.

Strength training is a use it or lose it reality. From a physiological perspective, nothing is permanent but change, either you are getting better or your not. Therefore it is absolutely essential that what was done in the off-season is replicated during the in-season, the only exception being the frequency of workouts performed. During the in-season program, the player‘s train one to two times per week, whereas during the off-season the player‘s train two to three times per week. Strength training workouts are scheduled on non-consecutive days and not less than 72 hours prior to kickoff. This prevents overtraining and promotes optimal results/recovery by kick-off.

Most teams drop the ball in this respect; they over emphasize the off-season program and under emphasize the in-season program. Obviously, the time constraints of the in-season will dictate when and how much strength training is appropriate. Truth be told, the real measure of any comprehensive strength & conditioning program is what occurs during the season. After all, it is during the season when you want the highest levels of strength to maximize performance potential and minimize injury. Keeping players healthy and on the field is imperative to the success of the team.

The better Arian Foster gets, the more Matt Schaub and the Texans' passing game takes a back seat.

Whereas, many coaches would be satisfied with no improvement (maintenance) during the season, our expectation is to improve strength. In fact, our average in-season gains are what most teams hope for in their off-season programs! Our strength training routines address the five major structures of the body: the neck/trap, lower torso, mid-torso, upper torso, and ankles/arms. We place equal emphasis on all segments of the body since the entire body is involved in playing the game of football and consequently, exposed to injury. Traditionally, athletes have neglected training the neck and shoulder capsule. Certainly, when you consider the potential catastrophic risk to this vulnerable area, it is a priority that needs to be emphasized.

All athletes perform the same workouts regardless of position. A basic workout consists of 12-18 exercises in which one to three exercises are performed for each body part. A workout is generally 60 minutes in length. Larger muscles (chest, back, shoulders, neck/traps, hips/legs) are always trained before smaller muscles (arms, wrists, calves, abdominals). A wide variety of strength training equipment/apparatus is used, with none being more effective than another. Every rep of every set is coached and documented.

The In-Season Strength & Conditioning Program
All players are scheduled for two individualized workouts each week. Players will be scheduled for either a lower torso workout or one total body workout on Monday and one upper torso workout either on Wednesday or Thursday (providing we play on Sunday). Players wanting to train their lower torso twice in any given week will have an opportunity to train Wednesday after practice.

Coach Del Rio and/or the Head Athletic Trainer are the only one‟s to excuse a player from a workout.

NOTE: Practice Squad & Injured Reserve players will be scheduled in for two to three supervised strength-training workouts per week.

All players are expected to arrive in the weight room five minutes early to begin the workout. The digital clock in the weight room is the official clock of record. Being in the building, locker room, training room, bathroom, etc. at an assigned time is still considered being late. Players must be in the weight room, dressed and ready to work. It does not matter if players are one minute late or twenty minutes late – late is late. Since all excuses are good ones and 95% always true, no excuses will be accepted for being late or missing a workout.


recently completed his fifteenth season as a professional football Strength and Conditioning Coach. A fourteen-year National Football League (NFL) veteran, Mr. Asanovich spent six seasons as the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under Head Coach Tony Dungy, and has served as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Baltimore Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings. His list of Pro Bowlers trained includes Mike Alstott, Derrick Brooks, Chris Carter, Warrick Dunn, Keyshawn Johnson, Ray Lewis, John Lynch, Randall McDaniel, Warren Moon, Jonathan Ogden, John Randle and Warren Sapp, among many others.

TAKU’s NOTE This week we feature another excellent article from Mark Asanovich. Although this article was written about football, the reality is that all athletes should remember that improving is the goal. One should train hard and rest well. This is the secret to getting better.