| | | In-Season Training Templates and Coaching Tips

Author / Carl Case

The summer is over; you spent the entire off-season working hard to create bigger, stronger athletes with more horsepower. Now your athletes are hitting training camps, starting school, and the question becomes, “how do I change the training for in-season?

63057_4987035108116_531767113_nI’m here to point you in the right direction. At CrossFit South Bend, we see a lot of both
high school and collegiate athletes during their off-season training. As result, we have had a lot of practice transitioning them into their in-season training. Take note of these best practices to make sure you are getting the most out of your athletes during their season, while not compromising their ability to perform where it counts, on the field.


Volume and Intensity

Reduce training volume while keeping intensity as high as possible.  Training volume is  defined as total repetitions per workout. Think of the classic 5×5, for a total volume of 25 repetitions. We know that volume is more difficult to recover from compared to intensity.  We’re not talking emotional intensity; but the percentage of weight lifted relative to your 1RM. An example of intensity would be a 5RM.


The majority of the time I work with my athletes prior to practice, and odds are you will too. They’re going to follow the training session with their scheduled practice, so there is no reason to put them through extra conditioning. Between skills and drills, and the high probability  someone is going to drop a ball or mess up in some other way to earn the team some sprints, your athletes will get their conditioning in. To pile on the conditioning work will only put them in a position where your training is distracting from their ability to perform at practice or during the game.

Minimizing Risk

In-season there are certain movements I like to eliminate that have a potential for risk or are harder to recover from.

  • Power cleans are a great tool, but  the last thing you want in the in-season is to have an athlete catch a heavy bar the wrong way  and jam up their wrist or shoulder.
  • We know that deadlifts can be very taxing on the CNS and are harder to recover from. Heavy deadlifts especially  can stick with players well into the rest of the week.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t incorporate any pulling.  Focus on clean pulls to get the added benefit of violent hip extension. This keeps the load light enough they won’t feel it at practice later in the week and still integrate some violent hip extension.

When in doubt always fall back on the 3 Ps: Is it Practical, Purposeful, and Prudent?

IN-SEASON Player Assessment

Daily player assessments are crucial to see if what you planned for the day is appropriate or if you need to adjust your in-season training model. Practices and games have a big influence on how your athletes feel when they walk through your door. Some simple questions to ask that will tell you a lot are:

  • Did they suffer any injuries from their last game?
  • How was practice?
  • Are specific parts of their body that are exceptionally sore?
  • How are they recovering?

Be observant and take into account their mood. Are they joking around or do they look like  they just woke up? Players often say they feel good when, in fact, they’re beaten down. They don’t want to disappoint their coach or come off as weak.

blake try

It’s our job to have a connection with our athletes and know when to pull back the reigns.  Understanding all of these things can help you develop a game plan to get them recovered as much as possible throughout the week so they can get the most out of practices and be ready for game day. This is going to require doing some work on your Power Coach principles of Experience, Communication, and Connection.


3 Training Days

Day 1

  • Dynamic Warm up
  • Squat: Rep Max, with a drop set for max repetitions. Example 5RM w/ max repetitions @80%
  • Press: Rep Max.
  • Recovery/Tempo Runs

Day 2

  • Dynamic Warm Up
  • Dynamic Pull: 3, 3, 3, 3
  • Primal Complexes: get creative here. Take your athletes through various lower body primal movements. Think step ups, squats, and lunges. Mix them together, and move through different planes. Example: 4 DB Squats + 4 DB Lunges Rt/Lt + 4 DB Step Ups Rt/Lt

Day 3

  • Dynamic Warm up
  • Squat: CAT Rep Max, keep adding weight until the bar speed slows down
  • Bench: Rep Max, with a drop set for max repetitions

2 Training Days

Day 1

  • Dynamic Warm up
  • Squat: Rep Max, with a drop set for max repetitions
  • Press: Rep Max  
  • Recovery/Tempo Runs

Day 2

  • Dynamic Warm Up
  • Dynamic Pull: 3, 3, 3, 3
  • Primal Complexes

It all comes down to making sure you’re setting your athletes up for success on the field and empowering their performance with your in-season training. Don’t expect big gains throughout a season. In-season training is in place to minimize the de-training effect that the intensity of game speed will have on an athlete. Reduce the training volume, cut down on conditioning, eliminate potential risk, and make daily assessments.


In the end you’ll have an in-season training model that won’t distract from on-field performance.  I think John put it as simple as you can in his Talk to Me Johnnie In-Season Training:

“In the end, the training is the means and the game is the end. Never sacrifice the means for the end, but the end should justify the means.”


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Carl Case

Carl Case has been an athlete his whole life, playing both football and rugby in high school. After high school, he directed his focus to rugby where he went on to become a collegiate Midwest All Star. Carl continues to play rugby on a mens team near South Bend, and was part of a National Runner Up team. He found CrossFit and then Power Athlete as a way to fuel his rugby performance. He has been following the Power Athlete methodology since it’s launch in 2009 and attended his first CrossFit Football seminar in August of 2009.

After an introduction to CrossFit in 2007, Carl became a certified coach in 2009 and co-owner of CrossFit South Bend in 2011. In addition to coaching CrossFit and Power Athlete inspired classes at the gym, Carl has been coaching high school rugby since 2009. He uses the CrossFit Football and Power Athlete concepts to help his young athletes identify their goals and provides pointed instruction to help achieve those goals.


  1. […] Articles – In-Season Training Templates and Coaching Tips – Power Athlete HQ by CFSB Coach Carl Case […]

  2. Mex on September 25, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Great Stuff Carl

    3 questions

    1. Rep maxes 7, then 5 and 3. 80% of weeks rep max for reps?

    2. Thoughts on alternating with a hypertrophy week if on a 2 day a week template with 2 games per week

    3. Speed work such as 5-10-5 and 3 cone with full recovery?

    • Luke Summers on October 2, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      1) Yep

      2) Why would you do that?

      3) Maybe, if they are feeling okay. It’s harder to recover from Intensity runs, so you may have to tread lightly here. Remember, game time will provide a “training stimulus” that you can’t replicate in training. So Intensity sprints may not be necessary for your studs. Only the guys who didn’t get playing time. You know what I mean?

  3. Richard on November 12, 2015 at 1:28 am

    Just found this guys and it looks great.

    We started our gym in season training with a decent amount of intensity instead of volume. We train in the gym twice a week.
    For our main lifts we used the same weight across three sets – 2×5, 1×5+. We pushed for max reps on the last set.

    As the season wears on we usually switch up to 5,3,2 (ala pavels power to the people), same weight used for all sets. We often drop the set of two and go for a max rep set with 70-80% of working weight.

    What are your thoughts on this?



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