Off-Season: Time To Fix Your Weak Links
One of the many fitness-related memes that can often be found on social media is the following:
“There is no off-season.”
Really? No off-season?
Well, yes and no.
This is a saying often embraced by those on the far-end of the fitness pendulum, the ones who tend to do too much, too soon, too often. Then they get hurt, burnt-out or both; and instead of an off-season, they are forced to stop altogether for an extended period of time. Sometimes forever.
Of course there is an off-season. Professional athletes have them, so don’t you think you should, too? The question is not whether or not there should be an off-season for the recreational athlete and fitness enthusiast, but rather what it is exactly.
What is an off-season? Is it stopping exercise altogether? That’s what the aforementioned meme would have you believe.
Once again, the short answer is yes and no.
Yes, you should periodically take time off completely from exercise to allow your body to rest and recover. This could be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending upon your fitness level and your goals.
No, it doesn’t mean you should stop for an extended period of time. Not exercising for a month or two is generally considered too long a hiatus when you are healthy.
The off-season is when you focus on doing (or not doing) three primary things:
- Rest and recover
- Mix it up
- Fix your weak links
You need to rest occasionally and you need to mix it up. No matter what your primary form of exercise is (or how healthy), if you do it exclusively, you will eventually experience problems. Doing the same activity repetitively can lead to overuse injuries, oftentimes severe.
Finally, the off-season is the perfect time to work on your personal “weak links.” These are your individual musculoskeletal issues that, unless addressed, will eventually lead to injury. We all have them, even professional athletes. They are commonly muscular weaknesses and muscular imbalances. The off-season therefore is the perfect time to engage in a targeted strength training program, the main goal of which is to “bulletproof your body” by fixing your weak links.
The off-season can be challenging and difficult. The days are shorter and colder. It’s exponentially easier to go into hibernation mode and curl up on the couch, especially when the exercises that help fix your weak links are often boring and repetitive.
Just remember one thing: Whether it’s tennis or triathlon, swimming or surfing, hiking or horseback riding - It’s working on your weak links during the off-season that allows you to enjoy your favorite activities during your “regular season.”