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More Training Info > Off Season Training

Off-season Training: Factors That Go Into Refining Your Program

Whether you’re about to embark on a new training program to prepare you for an exhilarating winter of skiing, or you’ve just completed an adventure-filled year of climbing, fall is a great time of year to assess where you are with your training, where you want to go in the next 3-12 months, and what adjustments you need to make in your current program to get the most from your training. Your Body Results trainer can do this for you; or you can begin learning how to do some of the program design on your own. But how?

The first step is to take a good hard look at what you were able to accomplish this season. Did you get in all the climbs, races, or outings you wanted? What got in the way? How did you feel on your outings? Were there any nagging aches, pains or injuries that kept you from top performance? Were family or job commitments too demanding to get in consistent training, and did you feel that affected your outings? Did you recover quickly from events each weekend so you could continue training during the week for the next weekend? Did your strength increase or decrease during the summer? Did your cardiovascular stamina increase or decrease during the summer? What about your flexibility? If you did any climbs at altitude, how did you feel? All these types of questions can help you determine relative weaknesses and strengths of your current training program.

The next step is to determine your top priorities for next year. Are you training for an expedition? Have you purchased all lightweight gear so that you’ll never be in a position where you’ll need to tote more than 40 pounds on your longest trips? Would you like to “fix” your knees so they stop bothering you on the descents? Would you like your fingers to be stronger for that pocket sport climb that keeps eluding you? Wish you could keep up with your friends more easily in the mountains? Are you tired of that hamstring or lower back acting up on you? In determining goals for next year, take a close, realistic look at where you are now and what limitations you have in terms of the current condition of your body, the time you have available to train (daily, weekly, monthly), and other life commitments, and then prioritize your training. For example, if you’re planning a high-altitude expedition where you’re going to be transporting loads up to 70-80 pounds at a time, you’re going to need not only cardiovascular strength, but also a lot of muscular endurance in the legs and core; that kickboxing class with your buddy might have to take a back seat for now, unless you look at that day as your cross-training day for mental sanity. On the other hand, if you just finished the excursion of a lifetime and you want to hang out at the local crags next year, you may set your sights on a completely different sort of training plan.

Look at your calendar and figure out how often you want to train, what activities you would like to include, and what days you most logically can do each activity. Figure out how much time you have to train, and what will help you get to the goals you have set up for yourself in the preceding paragraph. Do you need to improve on your front crawl so that you can shave time off the doggie-paddle part of this year’s triathlon? Swimming lessons would be a logical off-season target. Do you sprint out of the parking lot for the first hour of a climb and then sag on the rest of the outing? Spending time plotting out a cardio program makes sense. Are your finger tendons acting up on you? Visit a PT and get them rehabbed so that you can strength train appropriately off-season in order to attack your favorite routes with vigor come spring.

Once you know how you did this year, and what you want to accomplish next year, figure out what specific exercises you need to do in order to improve certain muscle functions. Your Body Results trainer is a fantastic source of information for this. If you know that you need to work on speed for that 5K goal of yours, then you need to include speed or even hill work weekly; if you hope to shave 10 minutes off each of your triathlon event times, then perfecting form and transition skills might be part of the solution, as will beefing up each event individually. If the boulder field on Eldorado caused your knees to falter, then strengthening the quads and increasing work on balance and boulder-hopping (a skill) will be something to work on in the off-season. When you’ve chosen the exercises most important to your goals then the final step is putting it all together into a weekly, periodized program that will take you from here to GOAL next year. For more on setting appropriate goals, see SMART Goals.

Body Results trainers specialize in this sort of program development. If you’d like to discuss your goals and program with us, and you’re in the Seattle area, contact us about our Start-up program. If you’re not local but would love to get some training assistance on-line, our WebTrainer service may be right for you.


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