Retiring from sport can be extremely difficult – not only from a physical standpoint but from a mental standpoint as well.
For many of us, our identities are wrapped up in the sport we play. I know for me I got a real sense of fulfillment and purpose from soccer. And, I was scared to lose that once I hung up my boots.
I know I’m not alone in this fear as I receive questions from former teammates frequently like “How am I going to remain athletic?”, “How am I going to stay fit?” “What’s my training routine going to look like without the structure of a team?”
One way that I have tackled this transition is by implementing exercises/movements that keep me feeling healthy, allows me to express my athleticism, and ultimately fuels everything I do outside the gym.
Here are six ways that keep me athletic and that you can begin using today in your training:
1. Power/Explosive work at the beginning of my strength sessions.
All of my strength sessions begin with a “Power block” that depending on the focus of the session includes medicine ball throws or jumps.
2. Joining in games with my youth athletes.
I find myself jumping into fun conditioning games like tag or tic-tac-toe with my young athletes providing me with some reactive/agility movements that I wouldn’t otherwise normally get.
3. Undulating my week with heavy-ish strength work and lighter movement days.
The days of me being able to recover fully from hard training sessions day after day are long gone. It has been imperative that I offset heavier training sessions with lighter recovery or movement days to provide me with a bit more recovery. Normally I strength train 3x/week and the other three days are comprised of a neural charge session, crawling/rolling/carries session, and long(ish) duration conditioning session. This keeps me feeling fresh and primed for each session.
4. Varying my conditioning.
This has been a game changer in terms of getting the most out of my sessions each week. I’ll write more in depth about this later but essentially I follow the neural metabolic training continuum, which essentially states that we are freshest at the beginning of the week and therefore are able to exert more energy and train more intensely. As we progress through the week our focus changes to more metabolic type training and recovery focused.
5. Using “Seasons of Lifting” to keep my training fresh.
Legendary strength coach, Dan John popularized this concept and we use this exact model in the coaching. Essentially it’s a way for life-long athletes/general population to have a goal for their training. As someone who was constantly preparing for a competition this concept has been beneficial in keeping me excited about my training. For instance, during the Spring the training focus would be geared towards leaning out, the focus in Summer would be getting outside for training sessions as much as possible, in the Fall the volume (sets and reps) of the overall sessions would increase with the goal being to put on a bit more muscle, and Winter would be all about getting strong as hell. So as you can see this is a great way to keep the training fresh and remain athletic through different training objectives.
6. “Shortish” strength training sessions.
With the combination of running a youth athletic development program, speaking engagements, and business, I no longer have time for long duration sessions. And, in reality after years of soccer focused sessions, I no longer have the desire for them. Keeping my sessions to around 45 minutes in total has me feeling better and more refreshed than ever. Plus, it provides me with more time to have fun and concentrate on other areas of my work and personal life.
Start adding these exercises and strategies into your training and feel empowered through your renewed athleticism.
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