How to Manage Off-Season Weight Gain
One of the biggest problems athletes face during the off-season is weight gain. During this time of the year, most of us train significantly less due to bad weather, less available daylight, and decreased motivation. Another factor that weighs in (pun intended) is the frequent occurrence of high-calorie holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
It’s ok to gain some weight during the off-season. How much depends on different factors. If you were very lean during the season (ca. 5-6% in men / ca. 10-11% in females), a few additional pounds are very much desired as they will help your immune system to keep you healthy during the off-season. Also, relaxing the mind and enjoying life a bit more than usual definitely helps with the deep recovery. If, however, you were already carrying a small gut through the season, don’t relax too much. :-p
So how much weight gain is ok? Use the 5% -rule. According to this rule it is ok to gain around 5% of your in-season weight during the off-season. So let’s say you weigh around 180lb during the season, you may gain around 9lb during the off-season. That is a manageable base in regard to the next season. However, at no point in time you should gain more than 10% of your in-season body weight. According to some self-studies I have conducted over the years, 10% will be hard to shed, not to mention any more than that. :-)
Beware: It’s not all about the weight. Besides your actual weight, keep your body composition in mind (how your body is made up aka. muscle mass, body fat percentage, etc.). You might actually not gain a whole lot of weight initially after you stop training. You might gain only a couple of pounds, despite living the good life and training a lot less, if any at all. How come? The initial, small weight gain is most likely due to your body maxing out its Glycogen stores, which are rather limited. What happens then you might be able to see in the mirror, but not on the scale: you lose muscle mass and gain fat. This can be very deceiving and lead to a mind that is way too relaxed when it comes to diet – even for the off-season.
How manage my off-season weight?
- The best thing is to stay active. Don’t just sit on the couch. Here are some tips on what to do during the season-break that will also help you keep your weight tin check: Off season. What now?!
- Don’t eat like a pig. Remember that whole “in moderation thing”? No science involved here, just common sense. Have some of that delicious holiday food, but not all of it. Drink a couple of beer, not the whole case. You know what I am talking about.
- Keep an eye on your weight and stick to the 5% rule.
- Keep an eye on body composition. Yes, you can get a scale that measures your body fat and lean body mass, etc. or other high-tech devices, but you can also use the holes in your belt and a mirror :-)
Happy holidays! Keep Striving – with Strivemax