BY ANDREYA GROZIK
Nick Castellano is a Triathlon Coach, Personal Trainer, and Massage Therapist. He says that the biggest mistake athletes make once race season is over is discontinuing the imperative work. Time off is needed from racing, but not from training. While it is necessary to decrease the intensity of the training, and maybe taking a break from the power meters, heart rate monitors, and the swim clock - the idea is to continue building on last year's work. Off-season is the time for corrective exercises, strengthening, and base training specific to your sport.
One critical tip to always keep in mind: NEVER skip the warm up. This goes for everyone, especially those coming off injuries. It is crucial to increase blood flow to the muscles and warm up the tissue, and it also creates mobility within the joints. Foam rolling is a beneficial second step, to separate the muscle tissue and make it more pliable. Lastly, he recommends dynamic stretching, which is critical for preparing for high intensity usage of our muscles in any sport.
The off-season is a great time to focus on the muscles that prevent injuries - mainly the smaller muscle groups that encase the shoulder and hip joints, as well as postural muscles within the trunk and neck. These muscles are important because they stabilize the joints.
It is also important to strengthen the prime movers - the big visible muscles (like the serratus, lats, triceps, quads, glutes, and hamstrings) that create locomotion to propel us forward. You can do this with tubing, bands, free weights, machines, and suspension training.
Base training is the conditioning of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. This is also when you should evaluate and reanalyze your form. Nick recommends getting a comprehensive Functional Movement Screening (FMS). He uses the free app called Technique, so he can analyze his clients' swim, bike and run form. He suggests that athletes use this on as well on their off-season. Once you reestablish form, then focus on slow, steady duration with an emphasis on having fun!
During the off-season, it's important to generally be mind-body aware of how you feel, make the off-season fun by mixing things up, and always maintain a healthy diet. Nick says, You're always going to gain a few pounds off season, and for that reason, he recommends Hammer Nutrition's Phytolean and Appestat. He also tells his clients to eat as much whole food as possible, avoiding all processed and canned food: I stay away from all inflammatory foods, sugars and white flour. He also recommends a regular regimen of Hammer Nutrition's Endurance Amino, AO Booster, Essential MG, Premium Insurance Caps, and Race Caps Supreme.