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Programming for the Gap Month Athlete

Sh*t Happens

Maybe gyms close due to a pandemic, or maybe you have to take extended time off from your normal training due to an emergency. Or... maybe you're like one of my clients who decided to take a gap month between jobs to go travel! Whatever the circumstance, training can be pivoted to minimize the loss of your hard earned gains.

Now, if you WANT to take a month off of training altogether, that's certainly your prerogative and you can stop reading right here! However, if you want to maintain as much of your strength and conditioning as possible when you're away from home, then here are the steps you can take to create your own Gap Month Athlete training program. Whether the athlete is YOU or someone else, at the end of this post is the program developed for my client which you can use and modify for your specific needs.

Step 1 - Assess Resources

The first step is to determine what resources the athlete will have available during the time off. Will they have any access to the training equipment they used to have? If not, will they have access to resistance bands? Maybe they will have access to a park that has pull-up bars or parallel bars? Maybe they own a MAXPRO or some other portable device they plan to bring? Whatever it is, be sure to create a full list of the resources the athlete is willing to access or bring. In the case of my client, they will be bringing a suspension trainer on their travels and will not be trying to access any local training facilities. This means the program we develop should be based around body-weight and suspension type movements, that can be performed almost anywhere, without any other equipment.

Step 2 - Assess Movements and Capabilities

The next step is to assess which movements to program based on the athlete's capabilities. For example, programming handstand push-ups for an athlete who can't handstand or do a normal push-up doesn't make much sense. Programming "ass-to-grass" unassisted pistol squats if they've never done any single legged squat in their life also doesn't make sense. Now, if the athlete WANTS to learn those movements we could incorporate regressions and eventually work toward the full movement, but that could take more than one month and is beyond the scope of this post!

Step 3 - Plan a Progression

Once you know which movements the athlete can execute, it's time to plan a progression! If the athlete will not have access to external weights or resistance, the main things we can progress are volume, tempo, density, and range of motion. To progress volume, the athlete could perform additional reps or sets over the course of the month. To progress tempo, the athlete could perform movements with longer eccentric or concentric, or even both, portions of a movement. To progress density, the athlete could perform the same amount of work, or more work, in less time or with less rest. If an athlete is unable to perform a movement for a full range of motion, they could perform partial range of motion variations and slowly work towards the full range.

End Product

The following program was developed for my client based on their resources and capabilities, with the intention of progressing both volume and density. While this was designed specifically for my client's resources and capabilities, you can change it up based on your specific resources, capabilities, and desired progression. Click the link here to get a free copy of the program:

Free Gap Month Athlete Program - Free Gap Month Athlete Program
Download PDF • 53KB

Shameless Plug

If you ARE going to travel and want to minimize data usage on your phone, I highly recommend bringing along the Creed Strength Journal so you can keep track of your strength journey and travels. You can get a copy of yours below!

Strength training is an analog pursuit. Putting pen to paper will help you retain those moments and lessons you've learned on your strength journey in a way that typing on a phone just doesn't quite hit.


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