That time of year when everyone hangs up their cleats, the winter weather sets in and with it, the extra winter weight! Don’t let the winter months destroy all of the fitness goals you achieved over the past year. Paintball, and any sport for that matter, is not just a seasonal sport. It’s your responsibility to build you’re athleticism on your own time. You should be prepared for next season when the time comes, not fighting to get back to where you started the year before.
The real question isn’t if you should be working your body over the off -season, but how you should be working your body! During the playing season, the goal is to stay as lean and agile as possible. Normally you can accomplish this through limiting your excess calorie intake, plyometrics, sprints and other high intensity or high repetition exercises. However, your goal for the off-season should be to build more powerful muscles while avoiding excessive fat gain. You can do this by decreasing your workout intensity, increasing your weight during exercises and adding calories into your diet.
Here is a general off-season timeline you can follow to make sure you go into the next paintball season faster, stronger and more athletic than ever before.
October is when you should be in your most athletic form throughout the entire year! The World Cup is always at the end of October and as a paintball player, it will always be the most important event you play all year. If you are just starting your training routine during this time, you’ve let yourself fall behind the curve and will not be as prepared as you should be come event time. Be sure to follow the rest of these off-season tips to be certain you are at your best for next season.
November usually marks the first whole month of the off-season (for most paintball players). This is your opportunity to begin your new routine! You should aim to start the muscle building process with extra focus on recovery exercises. After a long season of high cardio and hard fought matches, your body is not always in the best condition to begin building new muscle.
Begin each workout with a dedicated stretching routine. Stretching will not only release tension in areas that have been over worked from performing repetitive movements, but will also make sure you maintain a large range of motion in your joints as you begin to add on muscle. Focus on areas that have been over worked the most, including the shoulders, hip flexors, hamstrings and quadriceps.
Check out a full body STRETCHING ROUTINE HERE
In your workout, focus on your major muscles first (legs, back, chest). Working your major muscles will provide a larger production of natural muscle growth hormones as well as incorporate the smaller muscles in your body. During this period, aim to complete 3-4 exercises/muscle group, 3-4 sets/exercise and 8-10 reps/set. Using this lower rep range will allow you to lift heavier weight than you may during the season and will initiate muscle growth. Also, using up to 4 sets and 4 exercises in a routine will allow for a large enough calorie burn to avoid any major fat gain.
Finally, during the months of November and December, try to add 300 – 500 QUALITY calories to your diet on training days. At an extra 1,500 – 2,500 calories/week, your body should have plenty of extra calories to start packing on some muscle! Remember, the quality of your calories counts! Be sure to limit your intake of Mom’s Thanksgiving feast and Christmas cookies.
NOT ALL CALORIES ARE CREATED EQUAL
Now, entering into January, it’s time to start slimming down to prepare for the upcoming season! However, it is definitely not the time to hang up the weights for the season! (Actually, it’s never time to hang up the weight completely.)
In January, continue isolating the major muscle groups, but increase your intensity by lowering the weight you use in each exercise, increasing your reps in each set (12-15) and using complex exercises. All of this increased movement will begin cutting down on any of the extra weight you may have gained over the winter without hindering your newfound strength. Personally, I continue eating the extra calories to feed the intensity in my workouts, but depending on how well you trained over the winter, it may be time to cut some of the extra calories out!
Complex Exercise Examples
Dead Lift, Power Clean, Squat Press, Burpee
Finally, heading into February is your last chance to be in killing shape for the paintball season. With the first event coming within a month, it’s time to really start building your agility by focusing more on your footwork and sprinting capabilities than your weight lifting. You can see huge increases in your overall speed and agility by trading out 2 – 3 weighted workouts/week for sprints, ladder drills, cone drills and box jumps.
The off-season can be your biggest asset or your biggest downfall when it comes to stepping up your game. It’s what you do behind the scenes, when no one is watching, that matters. That’s where champions are built! The choice is on you!