In-season training for football presents some interesting issues. It is essential that a football player maintains or increases strength during the in-season period yet, they must do this while putting the body through the extreme stresses of physical contact on an almost daily basis.
These two processes seem to be mutually exclusive. Deal with the soreness produced in the body by the first few weeks of contact while at the same time beginning an in-season program to maintain or improve ( in the case of freshmen and red shirts) strength?
A modified Russian Peaking Cycle was the solution I found most effective. The key to the modified Russian Peaking Cycle is that the athlete is only asked to lift 80 percent of the 1 RM for sets of 2 reps. This is well below the expected 7-8 reps at 80% and allows the players to “feel” a moderately heavy weight. For the next four weeks ( weeks 2-5), the load does not increase and the player is simply asked to get one additional rep per week ending with 80% for 6 reps. This is still below the athletes actual capability and as a result is very achievable. In week 6-10 the load is increased by 2.5% per week while the reps are decreased by one per week. The end result is that the athlete is performing singles over 90 percent in week 10.
If the athletes can simply stay with the program, they will have maintained a minimum of 90 percent of their preseason strength. This is done without ever doing more than 6 reps per set and, can be done with starters for as little as one heavy set per week. The bottom line is that a little can go a long way in-season.
1- Get frequent workouts (ideally 3 per week) with higher intensities but lower volumes. Intensity is the key to training, not volume and this applies even more in-season.
2- Begin with loads that are achievable even when sore in pre-season.
3- First workout is a squat day. I love front squats, but whether you front squat or back squat, get your guys to squat on Sunday or Monday, whichever day is the first lifting day. Squatting is mind over matter. Anyone can get 80 percent for 2.
* In-season is a great time for the Safe Squat Bar. I never let my guys hold on but the safe Squat Bar allows a guy with a hand injury to squat. I also like Belt Squats in season for guys with back issues. The key is to never let them not squat. It’s a slippery slope.
4- Second workout of the week is bench press. Never let them bench on day 1. You may never see them again if lifting is not mandatory.
5- Third workout is hang clean. I like this on Thursday ( for a Sat game). I also will use this a secondary upper body day. This is less muscular stress and more neural.
The Russian Peaking Cycle ( Modified for In-season) * the original called for up to 6 sets.
Week 1 80%x2x2
Week 2 80%x3x2
Week 3 80%x4x2
Week 4 80%x5x2
Week 5 80%x6x2
Week 6 82.5%x5x2
Week 7 85%x4x2
Week 8 87.5%x3x3
Week 9 90%x2x3
Week 10 92.5%x1x3