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Maintenance Programs for High School Footballers

Q: What do you think about using maintenance programs for high school football players during the season?

A: Not much. The problem with using maintenance programs with high school athletes in-season is that most of them play multiple sports, unlike in college, where it’s extremely rare to have a scholarship athlete play more than one sport. Sure, a star athlete needs to taper off before a major competition, but if multisport athletes use maintenance programs in every sport they play, then they are hindering their ability to fulfill their physical potential. I’ve seen many high schools pleased to have their linemen able to perform power cleans with two 45s on each side of the barbell—225 pounds total. Well, for many linemen that’s about bodyweight. If I were a high school strength coach, I wouldn’t go around bragging about having seniors who can power clean bodyweight.

Although this is a complex discussion, one way a coach can plan in-season workouts is to perform two workouts per week. The first workout you train for volume, and the second one you train for intensity. Let’s say your big games are on Friday. On Monday after the game your athletes are pretty beaten up, so you do higher-rep bodybuilding movements—that will keep your muscle mass up throughout the season. On Wednesday, you do heavy Olympic lifting exercises and squats—but cut back on the sets. It’s primarily volume, not intensity, that causes overtraining. If during the off-season you would perform five sets of heavy power cleans after a warmup in a workout, during the season you might just do two to three. Kim Goss, a strength coach for the United States Air Force Academy from 1987 to 1994 who consulted with me in designing his workouts, used that system with the academy’s football team and said his athletes frequently broke personal records in-season in all the major lifts, not just the bench press.

Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most suc-cessful strength coaches, having coached Olympic med-alists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit  IM

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