Maintenance and Consolidation for Athletes: the Post-Season

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This is the second part of a series on nutritional periodization. In this article, we look at the athlete’s post-season, which is the period where the competitive season has ended and we need to rest and recover before ramping up for the following season.

Overall, the TL:DR is that there are great benefits to slowing down and consolidating the gains you’ve already made, instead of immediately launching into your next pursuit once your initial goal is attained.

You see, as an athlete you need to give yourself the time to recover from your ‘season’ before moving on to the next big goal. In this case we are talking about the phase that comes directly after the Crossfit Open, but it would also apply if you trained and competed in another sport.

For now, recovery IS your goal. The objective of this post-season phase is to :

  • Restore hormonal balance

  • Allow your central nervous system to recover

  • Restore overall health

During this phase, your training intensity (and probably volume) will also decrease to, once again, give your body a fighting chance to get back to 100%. You will therefore likely have a bit more time on your hands, so it would be a great idea to focus on:

  • Getting ample sleep (7hrs/night at the very least)

  • Eating whole, nutrient-dense foods (like your veggies)

  • Getting re-focused for the next phase to come

  • Getting out of the gym!

When will you know if you are recovered?

The duration of the post-season, consolidation phase for athletes depends on the individual. You might consider moving onto the next training - and nutrition - phase once you…

  • Feel like your ‘normal self’, ready to take on the world, again

  • You are sleeping well

  • Any inflammation/nagging injuries have dissipated

  • You are raring to go!

Nutrition strategies for the post-season

There are a number of general principles we can state for post-season nutrition, but your protocol needs to be catered to you specifically, so reach out to a coach if you are unsure!

If you are currently tracking macros, keep your calories and protein the same, but shit towards higher fat and lower carbs. Your training will be a bit less intense than during the Open, so you don’t need as much carbs to fuel your muscles, but you need more fat to restore your hormone levels to their optimal levels (they may have taken a hit somewhat during the intense period of the Open).

If you are not currently tracking, we can still use the post-season as an opportunity to refocus on food quality. Take a good look at your daily nutrition (I’d suggest you keep a food journal for a few days), and ask yourself these 6 questions. Again, please reach out if you have any questions!

Part I: maintenance and consolidation: why status quo is key

Part III: importance of maintenance/consolidation for habit creation