Benefit of In-Season Heavy Resistance Training

It is fairly common practice for American football players to weight train during the season. It would actually raise some eyebrows if a team didn’t do some type of in-season weight training. Soccer is making a slow change in that direction, but is not fully there yet. Because technical and tactical skills reign supreme, there’s not much time left for the other end of performance training in-season.

Below is a recent study on in-season heavy resistance and high-intensity training. In the 18-week study, the strength training group improved on all of the measurements while the control group (non-strength training group) saw no improvements. Considering the strength training group only performed two strength sessions per week, it is major benefit with the minimal additional time devoted.

This just adds to the overwhelming research backing the benefit for in-season resistance and high-intensity training to maintain a high level of performance throughout the season.


Effects of 18-Weeks in-Season Heavy Resistance and High-Intensity Training on Throwing Velocity, Strength, Jumping and Maximal Sprint Swim Performance of Elite Male Water Polo Players

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:
POST ACCEPTANCE, 25 September 2013
Veliz, Rafael Ramos; Requena, Bernardo; Suarez-Arrones, Luis; Newton, Robert U.; S?ez de Villarreal, Eduardo

Objective: We examined the effect of 18 weeks of strength and high-intensity training on key sport performance measures of elite male water polo (WP) players.

Design: Twenty-seven players were randomly assigned to 2 groups; control (in-water training only) and strength group, (strength training sessions (twice per week) + in-water training). In-water training was conducted five days per week.

Method: 20-m maximal sprint swim, maximal dynamic strength (1RM) for upper (bench press (BP) and lower (full squat (FS) body, countermovement jump and throwing velocity were measured before and after training. Training program included upper and lower body strength and high-intensity exercises (bench-press, full-squat, military-press, pull-ups, CMJ loaded, abs).

Results: Baseline-training results showed no significant differences between the groups in any of the variables tested. No improvement was found in the control group, however, meaningful improvement was found in all variables in the experimental group: CMJ (2.38 cm, 6.9%, Effect Size (ES)=0.48), BP (9.06 kg, 10.53%, ES=0.66), FS (11.06 kg, 14.21%, ES=0.67), throwing velocity (1.76 km/h, 2.76%, ES=0.25) and 20-m maximal sprint swim (-0.26 sec, 2.25%, ES=0.29).

Conclusions: Specific strength and high-intensity training in male WP players for 18 weeks produced a positive effect on performance qualities highly specific to WP. Therefore, we propose modifications to current training methodology for WP players to include strength and high-intensity training for athlete preparation in this sport.


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John Grace is a coach at Athletic Lab Sports Performance Training Center in Cary, NC - USA. John has his CSCS, USAW Level 1 certification, USATF Level 1 certification and has worked as an assistant fitness coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS.