Your easy 12-week off-season training guide

By Migie Felizardo | Photo by Daniel Apodaca/Unsplash

Off-season is the best time to get stronger and focus more on strength and conditioning. The goal of strength and conditioning for endurance sports during this time is to improve your base strength, core stability, mobility and flexibility, speed, work capacity, endurance as well as decrease the risks for injuries.

As you work on your strength and conditioning in the off-season, you’ll get maximum returns in your performance in the next season. Of course, working on specific sports skills should not be neglected. In this off-season training guide, I will utilize the strength and conditioning program using the principles mostly coming from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Optimum Performance Training (OPT) model.

The NASM designed the OPT model to concurrently improve all functional abilities such as flexibility, core stabilization, balance, strength, power, and cardio respiratory endurance. This program has been successful in helping people from diverse populations to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and strength, and improve sports performance and overall health.

The OPT model is made up of three levels and five phases. For the off-season training of endurance athletes, we will only focus on Phase 1 and Phase 2. Phase 1 is called stabilization endurance, which focuses on stabilization and is designed to prepare the body for the demands of higher levels of training–this level is crucial for all beginners. In addition, it allows the body to actively rest for more intense bouts of training.

In Phase 2, strength endurance is designed to maintain stability while increasing muscle size and strength. This period of training is necessary for anyone who wants to increase calories burned, muscle strength, and bone density. In simpler words, Phase 1 focuses mainly on stability and Phase 2 works on your gained stability and focuses on strength exercises to make you even stronger.

Below is an eight- to 12-week off-season strength training program for endurance athletes. This is quite a general program and does not strictly follow all the training components of the OPT model yet will still yield good results. You can do this routine two to three times a week with at least one day rest in between; you can do your endurance training on rest days as long as it’s not too intense. Choose loads or weights that are challenging for you as long as you can still maintain proper form until the last rep. Make sure to allot at least one day of full body rest during the week and combine it with a good nutrition plan.

Phase 1: Stabilization Endurance (Weeks 1 to 6)

Warm-up: 10 to 15 minutes of foam rolling and flexibility exercises

Core: 2 sets x 30 seconds


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Very recently I posted a series of posts called "How to Write Your Own Workouts". – In one of the parts I talked about understanding regressions and progressions. Not from a standpoint of adding weight, but from a standpoint of learning how to move better and progressing properly to more challenging versions with a proper progression line. – Also, you should note if you're like most people heading to gyms making their own programs, you've tried exercises — and if you're like most people — at times, there was some room for improvement. To be honest, there's always room for improvement — myself included. – In some cases, becoming aware of better technique, or shown, is all you need. But in many cases, the exercise you chose may have been too challenging. – Let's take an ab wheel rollout. Without question one of the best ab exercise/core exercises out there. It's also pretty advanced and if you see someone attempting it in the gym, they're usually more at risk of snapping their spine in half instead of getting actual core development (which prevents the spine issue). – You've probably also seen some good planks and some not so good ones. Again, sometimes awareness but sometimes the person may need to do something a little easier first — like a plank off a bench or a dead bug. – In some cases, especially post-pregnancy and a "casted in a chair at a computer for 20-40 years" situations, that 3 month breathing exercise is crucial to teaching someone how to begin to use their core properly again. – And after those, the plank is much easier to learn. – Then on to the progressions – and that's only a small list. A small list that could take a year to get to the end of. – This concept although sometimes overused, applies to the plank VERY well. – Hit me with any questions below. . . . . #plank #planks #plankworkout #plankworkouts #plankchallenge #plankaday #plankchallenges #planking #corechallenge #coreworkouts #coreworkout #abworkouts #abworkout #corestability #abwheel #stabilityball #stabilityballworkout #deadbug #torontofitness #torontopersonaltrainer #personaltrainertoronto #fitnesstoronto #torontotrainer #torontogym #toronto #tdot #the6ix #6ix #chadhargrove

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2. Side Plank

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Core Work #Planks #Abs

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3. Glute Bridge

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#Repost @twistrichmondhill (@get_repost) ・・・ The FIRST exercise ALL of our clients/athletes do after their foam roll and lacrosse ball releases, is the Glute Bridge. ________________ The Glute Bridge is a very important/complex movement for MANY of our first time clients. You start by “hugging” your low back into the ground to avoid any rib flare and for more core activation. We do heels driving into the ground and toes up for more hamstring (bicep femoris) activation and more importantly glute activation. This movement also “opens up” the hip flexors (illipsoas) and helps correct lower crossed syndrome, which is very prevalent with all our adult clients and athletes. ________________ This movement teaches our athletes how important it is to become aware of their hip drive and movement as that’s where a majority of their lower body power comes from. ________________ We use a @perform_better band, that goes above the knees for more glute med activation, which is very important for teaching our athletes and adults proper squat mechanics. #gluteactivation #performbetter #movementismedicine #strength #strengthandconditioning #rehabilitation #prehabilitation #workout #squats #glutebridge #movementasmedicine #lowercrossedsyndrome #keepitsimplestupid

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Strength/ Main Set: (Perform as a circuit with no to minimum rest in between exercises, rest for two to three minutes after one whole set of the circuit. Do two to three rounds)

1. Cable/Band Pulldown 15 reps

2. Split Squat 15 reps per side

3. Pushups 15 reps

4. Suspension Trainer Rows 15 reps

5. Single Arm Shoulder Press or 15 reps per side

6. Single Leg Deadlift 15 reps per side

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When it comes to single leg deadlifts, be like John Snow and… BEND THE KNEE! 👑 – When you keep your bottom leg straight during a single leg deadlift, you lose the ability to shift your hips back. This causes the kettlebells to travel out in front of you, putting excess strain on your lower back. – The idea of a single leg deadlift is to work the hip hinge pattern on one leg. But just like you can’t properly hinge on two legs with your legs straight, you can’t do it on one leg with your leg straight either! – Instead, you want to aim to look more like @achievefitnessboston owner @laurenpak22 in the second video. You can see that she allows her knee to be soft, which gives her the ability to shift her hips back and keep the kettlebells in close! This will not only be a better pattern for targeting and strengthening the glutes and hamstrings, but it will also keep your lower back much happier! – Double tap if you found this video helpful!! ✌️💙💪

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Cardio/ Finishers

Cardio Intervals: 10-15 minutes total, 30 seconds work/fast, 1 min, 30 seconds rest/ slow to moderate

Phase 2: Strength Endurance (Weeks 7 to 12)

Warm-up: Same as above

Core: Two sets x 10-15 reps

1. Ab Wheel Rollouts

2. Cable Rotations (per side)

Strength/ Main Set: (Perform 1a strength exercise then immediately follow with 1b stability exercise with no rest in between. Follow the same format with exercises 2, 3 etc. Rest Period: One to two minutes in between sets)

1a. Goblet Squat two sets x 10 reps

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– 🏋️‍♀️ Squat Alternative: Goblet Squat 🏋️‍♀️ – If you’re still not quite sure about low or high bar yet…welcome the goblet squat. This is a nice alternative to achieve a very similar load to the joints and muscles 💪 – The weight acts like a balance and allows some who struggle to have a cleaner looking squat and it also can challenge the core well 🔥 Here as some do’s and do not’s of the goblet squat! – Try this out and let me know how it went ! 📨 or – #squatsfordays #injurprevention #recover #painfree #mindbody #balanced #strengthen #physicaltherapy #sportsrehab #sportschiropractic #chiropractic #chiropracticcare #crossfitter #wod #crossfitters #crossfitfamily #crossfitlife #crossfit #movementismedicine #squatdayeveryday #hipflexors #hippain #kneepain #gobletsquat

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1b. Split Squat/ Single Leg Deadlift two sets x 12 reps per side

2a. Pullup/Chinup two sets x five to eight reps

2b. Dumbbell Rows two sets x 12-15 reps each

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***ARE YOU MAKING THESE ROWING MISTAKES?!*** ••• Rowing variations like the 3 Pt Row Achieve owner @laurenpak22 demonstrates here are a fantastic way to strengthen the upper and mid back. However, there are two common mistakes we see when people perform this exercise: 1️⃣They allow the front of the shoulder to round forward instead of being pulled back 2️⃣They pull the dumbbell towards their shoulder rather than their hip, which makes the movement more of a mini biceps curl than a true rowing exercise. ••• Make sure you get the most out of your rowing exercises by taking the advice Lauren discusses in this video! If you liked this post, we'd really appreciate it if you gave it a quick double tap! Also, please comment below or DM us with any suggestions you have for future videos! Until next time, ✌️💙💪!

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3a. Shoulder Press two sets x 12 reps

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#spartakbg #shoulderpress @krasiv70 @trenirovkaskrasi

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3b. Pushups 2 sets x 15 reps

4. Kettlebell Swings three sets x 15 reps

or Dumbbell Deadlift three sets x 10 reps


Cardio Intervals: 10 to 15 minutes, 30 seconds work/fast, one minute rest/slow to moderate

Again this is a general off-season strength and conditioning program for endurance athletes. For the exercises, you can regress or progress the exercise by adding or lowering the weights used or using a different variation. An example would be rather than doing regular push-ups, you can do single leg pushups to add more challenge for core stability or rather than doing spilt squats, you can do rear foot elevated split squats (Bulgarian Split Squats). If you don’t have the equipment you can use another tool that will help you perform the same movement, eg. Pushup postion dumbbell rows rather than Suspension Trainer rows. For weeks 5 and 12, you may make those weeks light or easier as a transition/deload to prepare you for the next phase of your program. I hope this helps for your performance enhancement!