How to Train Like a Professional Athlete: The Offseason

By Brian Carroll

One of my main goals with 10/20/Life is to teach you how to structure your training like a professional athlete. No matter how you train—whether you’re a bodybuilder, CrossFitter, or regular gym guy/girl—you need to build an offseason into your training, the same way pro athletes do. These are people who do this stuff for a living. You can learn a lot from how professionals approach their training year.

Think about this. Professional athletes are constantly learning and assimilating information, but when do they fix things? When do they work on technique and make changes?

They don’t do this the day or week before a game or event. They do it in the offseason, where they have the time and the energy to work on their weak points.

The idea here is twofold. First, you need a comprehensive plan of attack that gives you some downtime so you’re not killing yourself 365 days out of the year. Next, you don’t want to be grinding away at the same things day after day for an entire year. Doing that week after week is monotonous—and although 10/20/Life is a program you can stay on for decades without “program jumping,” I’ve also built in the changes you need, depending on the season, to get and keep you at the top of your game.

Structuring an offseason into one’s training seems to be a lost art these days. I know I’m always talking about social media, but if you look around, you’ll see lots of younger guys talking about maxing out every week and being strong and peaked for competition year-round. This sounds great when you’re talking yourself up online, but in reality, that’s not even close to the way things work. The athletes at the top of the game—no matter what sport we’re talking about here—don’t do things this way.

If you don’t build an offseason into your programming, you’re missing out on a crucial time for you to make serious gains that’ll translate to tangible gains when it counts—at your meet, competition, game day, or testing day. I get into the dangers of burning your candle at both ends in detail in 10/20/Life, but suffice it to say, for now, that when you’re testing things all the time, you’re losing a ton of valuable time that could be spent getting better.

What Makes For a Good Offseason?

Experience has shown me that having downtime, and a life outside of the gym, is extremely important. You want to spend time with your family and friends and live your “regular” life without redlining your training, while at the same time attacking your weak points and getting better. That’s your offseason in a nutshell.

For example, if you’re really struggling with your bench press, a 10-week pre-contest cycle where you’re constantly testing yourself with max lifts won’t help matters. By the time you reach this point in your training, you’re already beyond help because you haven’t built any kind of foundation in the offseason. When you have weak points or imbalances that need to be addressed, you’re not going to be able to fix them very easily if all you’re doing is trying to get as strong as possible all the time.

The solution? Schedule an offseason where you lower your intensity, slow things down, and take the time to really evaluate what you need.

Addressing your weak points is the most important facet of this. If you’re redlining your training year-round, you’re constantly exposing your weak points, but you’re never really addressing them. That’s getting the process backward, and it means you’re almost in denial with regard to the things you need to be working on. You expose your weak points in your competitive cycles, then address them in the offseason. That’s how this works.

If you don’t have an intelligent plan that gets your body some rest and corrects your weak points, you’re losing the long-term battle. You’re also failing to optimize your training year, and you’re taking an approach that can lead to serious injury. That’s why, in 10/20/Life, I give you a comprehensive weak point chart that will show you how, where, and why to program your assistance work no matter where you are in your training cycle.

Again, if you’re waiting until your pre-contest phase to correct your weak points, you’re waiting far too long. Your pre-contest phase is designed to shape what you’ve built over time in training—the work you’ve done in the offseason. If you don’t have an offseason, you don’t have anything to shape and build from.

If you want to know more, it’s all explained in painstaking detail HERE

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Brian Carroll

Owner and Founder at
Brian Carroll is committed to helping people overcome back pain and optimizing lifts and movement. After years of suffering, he met back specialist Prof. McGill in 2013, which led to a life-changing transformation. In 2017, they co-authored the best-selling book "Gift of Injury." On October 3, 2020, Carroll made history in powerlifting by squatting 1306 lbs, becoming the first person to break this record. He retired with a secure legacy and a life free from back pain.
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