Maintaining Your Fitness Levels During the Competitive Season

Submitted by Stefan Overgaard, Owner of SXS Fitness in Toronto

Fall is coming to an end, the snow is flying, holidays are around the corner and all of this signifies the arrival of the ski racing competitive season.  If everything went well with your fitness routine you are wrapping up a 3-month dryland training block where hopefully you’ve seen some significant gains (which should be reflected in your fitness testing).  It’s a great feeling going into the competitive season knowing you are strong and ready.  However, the work is NOT over. Fitness gains made in the offseason will diminish significantly if you don’t maintain it.   In other words, if you stop training now you will start deconditioning and lose strength and power which reduces performance and also increases the risk of injury.  This is not to say all your hard work in the offseason is out the window and all for nothing but you will most certainly see a difference.  Think about how your body feels during and after a workout when you haven’t been in the gym for even a couple of weeks- probably you feel weak to the point of frustration during the workout and extremely sore for several days after.  Now think about not training for the entire winter and what happens to the body.

The biggest challenge isn’t convincing athletes of the importance of maintaining fitness levels rather it’s finding the time and managing their schedule to ensure that they are able to do so.  I understand that this is no easy feat in particular for athletes in U16 and up to where this is particularly important.  Starting with the Christmas holidays where you are surrounded by family and friends with parties and engagements plus an intense week plus on hill training camp.  Then moving into January you get exams, February brings a busy race schedule and you get into March with 1-2 weeks of spring break plus the race season ramping up further. By the time you get to April, it’s pure survival… This is not to mention the huge workload that’s taken on for all the missed school plus trying to maintain some sort of social life.  No question, the reality of trying to squeeze in a regular workout routine over the competitive season is difficult.

What many don’t realize is to maintain a level of fitness over a period of 3 months does not have to be a full-blown workout routine.  In fact, pushing too much in the training can be counterproductive as the added fatigue from higher volume training will take away from on hill productivity.  Doing less volume but still at a relatively high intensity is best for preserving your gains without overdoing it and affecting on-hill performance.  Getting in for a workout 1-2 times per week is all you need but you to do need that EVERY week.  You miss a week or two and this strategy will start to become ineffective.  Take the time and make the training a part of your weekly schedule.  Winter is a chaotic time and if you just hope for the best and try to train where can, you’ll hit April with doing a handful of proper workouts while feeling weak and tired.  Mark down the days you plan on training and make it happen!

The big take always here is as follows:

  • If you don’t maintain it you will lose it.
  • Training 1-2 times a week will allow you to sustain fitness gains achieved in offseason.
  • You must train consistently; you can’t miss weeks at a time.
  • Your workouts don’t need as much volume, but still relatively high intensity (e.g push hard but don’t do as many reps or for as long, you want to simulate the body but don’t completely fatigue it).
  • Winter is crazy busy if you don’t make training a part of your weekly schedule the likelihood of keeping up with the training is very low.

www.sxsfitness.ca