Detraining- A Loss of Training Gains

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Not everyone trains year round. It is the optimal way to train, but it is not always feasible for everyone.

The general fitness population may not have to train in phases, but those that are preparing for sport do.

This can be a single event, tournament, or a sport season. The point is when you train really hard and all out for your season, what do you do once it comes?

For athletes, they may train all summer to get ready for the fall season. It becomes problematic when they do not go into a maintenance phase for in season training.

They become detrained.

What is Detraining?

Detraining is the reversal of training effects when training is stopped. This occurs in the people that train over the summer and then do not go back to their program until the fall season is over, for example.

So yes, when an athlete stops training the effects do not stick around forever.

In fact, detraining starts to decrease strength in as little as 4 weeks. 4 WEEKS!

That is not a lot of time by any means. One month into the season and the effects of the program are starting to wear off.

How is a soccer player going to perform come playoff time which may be closer to 10 weeks after the season?

This number also assumes that a long program was completed to begin with (about 16 weeks in most studies). For people that only train 4 or 6 weeks the effects are going to reverse a lot sooner.

Novices and beginners are going to detrain much easier than intermediate or advanced lifters as well. It will also be easier for those with a more training experience to retrain the body.

So how can detraining be prevented? By continuing to train in season.

In season training does not need to be high volume, crazy training but it should not be ignored.

The benefits of in season training include:

  • Maintenance of strength and power
  • Increased injury prevention
  • Better recovery

Keeping up with strength and power training is necessary because these aspects are necessary for performance but are lost in a short amount of time.

An athlete that cannot produce force is going to lose speed which means losing in the chase for a loose puck/ball, getting caught from behind by a defender, and being stopped short of reaching scoring a run/goal/touchdown.

This is not what I would train all off season for.

In season training is simple, luckily. It is about continuing to work at an adequate intensity, low volume, and working around the wears and tears of the season.

This is not the time to go crazy with new and exciting exercises. Instead, hammering home the basics is going to maintain the training effects from the previous training.

Using only the most important exercises for the program is going to yield the most benefits. Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of the gains are going to come from 20% of the exercises.

For in season training it is time to do squats, deadlifts, bench, lunges, etc. and leave the unfamiliar exercises for the off season.

Keeping the exercises simple with help reduce with soreness, to avoid poor performance when the athlete cannot move their legs.

It is really too bad when an athlete comes out roaring at the beginning of the season but can then never match the hot start. It is even worse if they get hurt halfway through or right before the playoffs.

Maintaining strength and power during the competitive season will increase performance and reduce the risk of injury that comes with playing the sport.

When consistent training takes place, athletes will have a successful season from beginning to end.