19 Sep How Often Should Female Athletes Strength Train?
The truth: this all needs to be a year-round pursuit.
Even when seasons ramp up and everyone freaks out with overwhelming practice and game schedules, there still needs to be time for physical training. In-season workouts are low volume and meant to maintain strength and maximize recovery. If these are brushed aside, don’t be surprised when female athletes wither away and resort back to compensatory movement patterns, and muscle imbalances. The maximum time of de-training impact on a young athlete’s strength are past the four weeks off mark, and won’t lose significant amounts of strength taking four weeks off from a formal resistance training program (Vassilis). This doesn’t mean sit still for these four weeks, but they can still walk, crawl, hang, balance, skip, and do light resisted movements to recover, then get back into it again the next month.
Female sports are becoming more fast-paced, more physical, and more demanding that performance training needs to be a consistent habit and shouldn’t be secondary to skills training and practices. It’s equally paramount and deserves a slot in the schedule to keep girls healthy and keep them progressing. Mind you, performance training is one and the same as injury prevention training. The basics repeatedly compound into a better moving, neurologically adept, faster and stronger athlete. This goes for all levels, beginner and advanced, alike to revisit fundamental movements and execute year-round training with oscillating load.
I can’t reiterate enough how important consistency is for female athletes. Everyone wants the overnight fix, or to make that fancy social media post. What people don’t realize is the social media post that has a female athlete executing more advanced movements has years of hard work and motor skill learning behind it. I remember I had a mom of a female athlete send me flashy social media training drills to my email inbox nonstop. She would say, “my daughter needs to do this.” First and foremost, her daughter just began training a meager one time a week and couldn’t even do a basic hip turn. Adding to the disaster, she was in-season and playing two games every weekend with three practices during the week and doing what was on these social media posts would have been overloading her. Third, the most advanced drills that are seen on social media take several months of consistent twice a week training to get to. The girl I was working with wasn’t even close.
Everyone must remember that consistency is key for drastic performance enhancement. Too, consistency is critical to get young girls into disciplined habits and utilize this mindset for a lifetime. When they move into their careers, consistent self-improvement stays with them. Whether they go into accounting, law, medicine, investment banking, nursing, or academia, they will advance themselves and get promotions by continuing to do the work. Performance reviews in the workplace happen every six months to annually, so they better not have a complacent attitude.
Sample In-Season Schedule:
1x a week recovery
1x-2x a week strength
1x a week speed
*Workouts take less than 30 minutes
Sample Off-Season Schedule:
1x a week recovery
3x a week strength
2x a week speed and agility
Of course, these will oscillate depending on the age of the girl, and how frequently her team has practices games, but overall, these templates should be the standard to elicit a drastic improvement in female athlete speed, strength and agility, as well as maintain her health.
Youth speed, strength and agility programs for in-season and off-season…
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Vassilis S, Yiannis M, Athanasios M, Dimitrios M, Ioannis G, Thomas M. Effect of a 4-week detraining period followed by a 4-week strength program on isokinetic strength in elite youth soccer players. J Exerc Rehabil. 2019;15(1):67-73. Published 2019 Feb 25. doi:10.12965/jer.1836538.269