5 Quick Full-Body Exercises For In-Season Strength Maintenance

In-season strength maintenance is critical to staying healthy as an everyday endurance athlete.

If you run or ride all the time, you’re likely going to get hurt: either from overuse or imbalances.

Yet I know you just want to run or ride and not spend time in the gym.

During the season, you just need to maintain the strength you built in the off-season.

And if you didn’t do any strength training, it’s okay to start now.

We focus primarily on full-body strength and core work.

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New client starts with strength training plan for fall target event

I started working with a new client who hasn’t done much strength training in the past years.

And his goal event isn’t until the fall, so we have some time to build some strength.

Since he’s local, he’ll schedule a visit to my studio to plan out a full-body routine.

Plus we’ll add some yoga for strength that will build mobility as well as isometric strength.

His in-season strength maintenance will be yoga strength and this program.

In-season strength maintenance is really important for your overall health

For most of us, we spent some time in the gym over the winter.

Now it’s time to use that strength on the bike or on the trails.

And many of us don’t do strength training any more because we want to be out doing our sport!

I get that!

It’s starting to feel like spring in Wisconsin, and I just want to ride my bike all day!

But I’ve also read the research that suggests that not only does in-season strength maintenance helps our performance, it also prevents strength loss!

Five in-season strength maintenance exercises

So I did the research and reviewed how I work with everyday endurance athletes and came up with a quick five-movement routine that should take no more than 15 to 20 minutes.

You can do in-season strength maintenance routine at home with a dumbbell or kettlebell or stop at the gym before your ride or run.

Doing the five exercises in this sequence once or twice a week during the season is enough to maintain strength and keep you from getting injured from overuse or imbalances.

Click on the title of each exercise to get a video of me demonstrating the exercise.

I’d recommend doing two sets of each twice a week for a total of maybe 15 minutes.

The exercises primarily work your core and posterior chain (back, glutes, and hamstrings).

Start with one set of eight to 12 repetitions to figure out what weight you’ll need to build some fatigue in the second set. Then do another eight to 12 reps to get tired enough so that you could do two or three more reps, but that’s when you stop!

The goal of the in-season strength maintenance program is to maintain your muscle strength, not necessarily build extra fatigue.

Straight Leg Deadlifts

This is the primary in-season strength maintenance exercise.

These deadlifts build strength primarily in your hamstrings, glutes, back, and core muscles. They’re also known as Romanian Deadlifts (RDL).

Start with two dumbbells in either hand at your side. Inhale and push your butt back as if you were going to sit back on a chair. Hinge at your hips with a slight knee bend and a mostly straight back. You should feel most of the stress in your glutes. Exhale and pull your hips forward to a standing position.

To make this exercise more challenging, start in a staggered stance and focus on one glute. You can also bring up your back leg for more of a balance position.

Band Pulls

Pulls like these strengthen your back, shoulders, and arms for in-season strength maintenance. Plus, adding rotations can strengthen your abdominals and glutes

Wrap a band around a post or use a cable. Start by slightly bending your knees and pulling the band into your chest. If you hold the bands underhand, you work your biceps, and if you hold them overhand, you work your triceps.

Increase the difficulty of this by pulling with one arm, then changing to a staggered step. You can add a rotation and pull the band into your armpit. Finally, you can try doing the pull on one leg!

Dumbbell Snatch

A Snatch is a full-body movement that builds strength and explosive power for in-season strength maintenance.

I find that choosing a slightly heavier dumbbell allows a greater initial pull, which makes it easier to bring the dumbbell overhead.

Practice the movement with a light weight to start. Start with your feet fairly wide apart and knees bent. Bend your knees into a partial squat and hold the dumbbell between your knees. Pull the weight up with your elbow extended so that your hand comes directly in front of your body. Pull hard so that the weight gets some momentum as if you were throwing it into the ceiling. Fully extend your arm as you push the weight to its maximum height.

When you finish, bend your elbow and control the weight down to your shoulder, then back to between your knees.

Hollow Hold

Hollows build isometric strength in your entire core, plus they build anti-rotational strength in your core as well.

I do these year-round for in-season strength maintenance and to maintain a strong core.

Lie on your back with your knees up. Extend your arms behind you. Lift your feet off the ground with your knees above your hips or slightly extended beyond your hips. Roll your hips so that your butt cheeks come off the ground and your lower back presses into the mat. Press your lower back hard so that your belly button comes into your spine and presses into the mat. Keep your head on the mat or slightly raised, paying attention to the stress on your neck.

You can add a weight or dumbbell to your hands and/or extend your feet to make the exercise more challenging.

Plank Rotations

Plank Rotations are one of my favorite exercises to build core rotational and anti-rotational strength. Plus adding in some additional movements makes this a full-body strength exercise.

Start in an elbow plank. You can start on your knees if needed. Hold the plank, then rotate your torso so that you are on one elbow and raise your other hand to the ceiling. Return to a full plank, hold a second, then rotate to the other side.

To add challenges, push back to a Dolphin pose in the plank to strengthen your shoulders. You can also come into a full plank and push back into a Downward Dog pose. Adding in a pushup on the plank also builds full-body strength!

This is a really versatile in-season strength maintenance exercise that creates full-body stress.

Want to know more about what you can achieve?

My purpose with Simple Endurance Coaching is to help everyday endurance athletes achieve their goals with more strength, endurance, and mobility.

If you liked this article, please share it with others.

Sign up on the website to get a free copy of my e-booklet, “The Simple and Mostly Complete Guide to Strength Training for Everyday Endurance Athletes.”

You can also opt in to receive my weekly blog posts about what works in endurance sports.

Contact me or sign up for Virtual Coffee so we can discuss your goals, ask questions, and talk about making your endurance training more effective, fun, and Simple.

Paul Warloski is a:

  • USA Cycling Level 3 Coach
  • RRCA Running Coach
  • Training Peaks Level 2 Coach
  • RYT-200 Yoga Instructor
  • Certified Personal Trainer



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Paul Warloski, Simple Endurance Coaching

I help everyday endurance athletes reach their adventure and challenge goals through personalized, holistic training, strength work, and yoga.