Cheating Yourself – The Off-Season

So your season is over and looking back, there were more than a few times where you felt you could have performed better, maybe even hit a couple of PR’s if only you were in better shape.

If you’re like most amateur athletes, once you hit the off-season, it’s time to relax. You figure any excess weight you need to lose will naturally melt away once your serious training begins. You’re not entirely wrong because as your training volume increases, you will naturally lean out a little. And yet, you know based on this past seasons’ performances that it wasn’t enough.

What’s in an off-season?

I get it. Your season is over and now it’s time to relax. For many of us, the off-season falls during the holidays and the opportunities to put on a few extra pounds are everywhere. There are lots of gatherings with loads of your favorite foods and maybe a few extra beverages as well, and you should not miss out. Those times with family and friends are what make your life experiences the best.

The off-season also represents a huge opportunity. During this time, most athletes will look to recover from the stresses (both physical and mental) of the competition season. Let’s face it, competition, on any level, takes its’ toll on the body and mind. You need to allow them to recover fully in order to get ready for the training season ahead. If however, you’re looking to be lighter, stronger, faster, next season this is the time to make the changes, and here’s why.

Fueling for performance vs Body Composition

Most of us think of food as food. I mean, what we eat is what we eat with little variation, on a day in and day out basis for maintenance. You may have a coach or a meal plan that tells you generally what to eat during your training and competition seasons. You probably figure that plan (along with some holiday treats blended in) is good enough for the off-season as well.

That’s where the problem(spelled O-P-P-O-R-T-U-N-I-T-Y) lies. The same quantities and types of food needed to fuel performance are different than those needed to change body composition and recovery.

If your goal is to add lean muscle mass during the off-season, you may need a higher protein intake than what you’re consuming during the competition season. Likewise, if your goal is reduction of body-fat, you may need fewer carbohydrates and more fat.

The bottom line is, you can’t fuel both optimal performance and body composition changes at the same time without something suffering. If your goal for the next season is to improve your performance you need to focus on that during your training and competition seasons, not on body composition.

That only leaves the off-season to work on dropping weight or adding a few pounds of muscle. Don’t cheat yourself and throw away the off-season. Get ahead of the competition by using it to your advantage.

You may have noticed that I haven’t given any specifics as to what to eat for your off-season goals. I don’t know you and while there are general amounts of macro-nutrients for different objectives, you should check with your coach for the specifics that match your needs.

Enjoy the holidays, but don’t cheat yourself this off-season.