Your Routine, In-Season and Off-Season

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Q: I was an online consulting client of yours for a few months this summer, and I was very happy with the results. It’s definitely showing through where I wanted it to – playing basketball (I’m more explosive, no nagging pains, being able to play above the rim at 5’9″). I am familiar with your approach to training, and have utilized the outline layed out in your off-season manual, but now that my basketball league (it’s an adult city league) has started I’m wondering what your approach to in-season training is.

In the off-season I was lifting 4x/week with an upper/lower split, and now during the season I lift total body 2x/week. Do you do heavy max effort work in-season, e.g. singles over 90%, or is it more submaximal work for strength maintenance? How do you consolidate lifting so that you’re fresh enough to make progress in the gym. but without interfering with games? If it helps, my basic layout is as follows:

If it helps, my basic layout is as follows:

Sunday PM: basketball game
Monday PM: soft-tissue work (foam roller/lacrosse ball) and extended mobility work
Tuesday PM: Lifting (with soft-tissue work and mobility warm-up):
1. Heavy squat/deadlift (3-5RM)
2. Unilateral (usually reverse lunges or bulgarian split squats)
3a. Pushups with blast straps
3b. High-rep band face pulls
4a. Posterior chain exercise (GHR or kettlebell swings)
4b. Side bridge
Wednesday PM: basketball game
Thursday PM: Lifting (with soft-tissue work and mobility warm-up):
1. Heavy chin-ups (3-5RM)
2. Unilateral (single-leg deadlifts or bowler squats)
3. Inverted rows
4. DB push press
5a. Light posterior chain exercise (swiss ball hip extension + leg curl or band good mornings)
5b. Pallof press or cable woodchop
Friday AM: Basketball Practice (skill work, no scrimmaging)
Saturday AM: soft-tissue work (foam roller/lacrosse ball) and extended mobility work

Any input or direction you could give me on in-season lifting is most appreciated

A: In-season, it’s important to keep the intensity up, just doing enough to maintain or slightly increase strength. It does NOT take much volume. Still, you have to listen to athletes; if they’re beaten up, scale back a bit.

As far as consolidation is concerned, it depends on the sport in question, to be honest. With pitchers, for example, I like heavy lower body sessions within 24 hours after a start. With basketball (practice, at least), I love doing the heavy work pre-on-court stuff and then coming back to assistance work after the on-court work. Great stuff.

Try doing that before your basketball games – seriously. You could also move Thursday’s session to post-basketball on Friday. I would actually look to get in a third session, if possible – just some upper body stuff here or there. My experience has been that in-season training is about frequency more than duration; it makes a big difference in terms of quality of work and acute endocrine benefits.

Eric Cressey

Step-by-step what it takes to become a superior athlete.