Phase 3 is a maintenance phase that typically begins around the end of March and ends about early May - weeks 17 through 23. This maintenance phase can correspond to a collegiate player’s spring football practice or to a high school athlete’s involvement in another spring sport. The last week of this phase provides a week off from training, planned to correspond to the collegiate academic break that usually occurs between the spring semester and the start of the first session of summer school. This planned break can also work to the advantage of high school athletes involved in other sports or as a recovery week before starting phase 4. Phase 3 requires three workout days per week.
Resistance TrainingThe purpose of this phase is to maintain the levels of power and endurance you gained during phase 2. This phase is an extension of phase 2, a bridge that leads to the summer months when you can again build power and endurance to their peak.
Types of ExercisesThe exercises during this phase consist of core lifts and supporting and assisting exercises. I have included some additional exercises that may seem unusual at first. These exercises include leg dragging, crabbing, roll-outs, dumbbell strolls, and dumbbell combo exercises. Implement these exercises to break the boredom of the routine and to provide an element of functional training. As in phases 1 and 2, do exercises for the larger muscle groups first in the workout before you address the smaller muscle groups.
Rest, Volume, and Special SetsThe amount of rest between exercise sets remains the same as the phase progresses - 1:30 between the sets of (b) exercises and 1:00 between the sets of (s) exercises. The amount of rest between exercises remains at 1:30. You can reduce these times by 15 to 30 seconds if your position or team meetings limit the time you can spend in the weight room. As you balance your time between study, sport conditioning, and personal time, burnout is most apt to occur during this phase, so keep the workouts short but challenging.
Phase 3 workouts maintain the number of repetitions at six for bench press and dumbbell press exercises. This repetition pattern ensures maintenance of power. Eight repetitions are prescribed for supporting exercises to help address muscular endurance and fatigue levels. To be sure that you accomplish this, perform the last set of the supporting exercises to failure.
This phase includes no special sets or reps. But during this phase you’ll perform many drills at high speed. Even though the overall resistance is not extreme, the exercise intensity as a result of movement speed will be increased. As a result of spring football practice, conditioning drills, and activities, the legs are often fatigued; thus, there is less need to compound the fatigue with excessive off-field legwork.
Repetition Style and SpeedExecute the repetitions in this phase with a pausing tempo on the core lifts and a more constant tempo on the supporting lifts. This combination of movement tempo ensures that you maintain both power and endurance.
Running and ConditioningConditioning during this phase is incorporated into practice with drills and games. Some players will be at a disadvantage because of their reserved playing status, either as a result of injury or because they are low on the depth chart. As a result, their physical conditioning will undoubtedly suffer. For this reason, I urge all athletes to run on their own. The conditioning or position coach can determine the quantity and frequency of the runs. If you are having problems controlling your body weight or are rehabilitating from an injury, you may want to set special times with your coach to come by and perform assigned running, treadmill, stair-climber, or bike work. If you are injured and not needed at practice, then reserve the practice time for reconditioning toward playing status. Near the end of the spring season the head coach and the strength and conditioning coach may collaborate and include a post practice conditioning session that can meet conditioning needs.