Holiday Breaks – Stay in Shape!

Why practice hard week after week only to lose it all by being a couch potato over Thanksgiving or Winter Recess?

What happens when I stop practicing and training?

Here is a graph of some of the changes:

(Graph from highly recommended Physiology of Exercise available here:

Here are some other physiological changes related to as little as two weeks of “detraining”:

VO2 max: down 4-10%
Blood volume: down 5-10%
Heart rate: up 5-10%
Stroke volume: down 6-12%
Flexibility: Decreases
Lactate threshold: Decreases
Muscle glycogen levels: down 20-30%
Aerobic enzyme activity: Decreases
Running economy: Unchanged

(downloaded from here)

While most of the above changes were related to endurance performance, there are also strength decreases, more importantly a reduction in sport-specific strength – check out this study on college swimmers from .

The good news is that you can maintain the results of your hard work with as little as two sessions a week – provided that the quality and duration of your sessions is similar to your previous training. For a 20-year old college squash player who has been playing and practicing two hours a day, that means:

  1. Two, 30-40 minute aerobic sessions at 75-80% of maximum heart rate.
  2. Two strength training sessions of about 30 minutes that prioritize squash-like squats and lunges, the core, and of course the balance work that will help prevent injury. Make sure to do about 10, short all-out sprints of about 20 yards to work your fast-twitch fibers. Go here for the complete picture of squash fitness.

This should be considered a minimum, as breaks from school can be a wonderful opportunity to get the edge on future opponents while they slack off! If you have access to a squash club there is no reason not to continue your usual training program.

Less experienced and trained squash players (less than four years of squash) will benefit from any type of racquet sport practice – even hitting an old tennis ball agaist a school wall (probably a racquetball racquet is best). Care should also be take that changing the exercise mode (e.g., squash to running or swiming) does not lead to injury (e.g. shin splints or rotator cuff) that hampers a return to practice.

What exactly should I do? Exactly what you have been doing at practice. Go to team training plans found elsewhere on this site.

Have a good break!

One Response to Holiday Breaks – Stay in Shape!

  1. […] you have built up with daily session over many weeks.  If you do nothing you will lose both your physical and technical game.  The key to effective maintenance sessions is to make sure that they are […]

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