The Effects Of Detraining Part 1

A spliced photo from the waist up. Half of the shirtless man's body is very muscular. The other half is very skinny. The combination of the 2 create one individual with their hands on their hips.

With the season in full swing, I’m sure a common trend will rear its ugly head…

Wrestlers will stop lifting hard. They will start starving themselves. They will begin running long distances. Ultimately, they will start to lose all of the strength and power they worked so hard to develop during the off-season.

These marked declines are the effects of a phenomenon known as detraining.

Ultimately, the goal of the next few posts will be to better educate you on the effects of detraining. I will detail what it means for your performance by the end of the year and what you can do to prevent it.

Let’s get started with the first research paper.

Detraining Effects In College Football Players During The Competitive Season

The research paper starts by stating the importance of a pre-season strength and conditioning plan. The authors believe that it should be aimed at laying the proper foundation for the upcoming season.

Additionally, the authors stress the importance of utilizing an in-season strength and power program. The primary aim of this plan should be to maintain the qualities that were increased during the pre-season.

The football players that made up the subject pool, on average, experienced an 8% decrease in the Bench Press (the test used to measure and assess muscular strength).

The authors stated that this was not unexpected, and in fact likely due to two primary reasons.

First, pre-season testing measurements usually indicate peak athletic qualities. This is especially true for strength since that tends to be a focus of a pre-season program.

Second, typically in-season programs lack volume and intensity due to the increase in the physical demands of the practice schedule. In the case of the football players being studied, they followed a 2 day a week program. This total stimulus, according to the authors, may have been too little to achieve the goal of strength maintenance.

It’s also worth noting that the 2nd day was usually a light day since it was only a few days before a game. So really, one heavier day per week was all that was performed.

Non-linemen experienced a greater decrease in shoulder abduction strength (performing a DB Side Raise). The researchers concluded that perhaps this means smaller muscle groups are more susceptible to the effects of detraining.

Although there were statistically significant decreases, the authors were optimistic in their conclusions on preventing/minimizing the effects of detraining. They stated that these effects can be monitored throughout the season. As a result, program adjustments can be made in an effort to take corrective measures.

Paper Referenced

Schneider, V., B. Arnold, K. Martin, D. Bell, P. Crocker. Detraining effects in college football players during the competitive season. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 12(1), 42-45. 1998.

My Thoughts

First, I’d like to address the 8% decrease in the bench press. The goal at Cornell for the wrestlers (at least when I interned there) was to lift 88% of their pre-season maxes 2 weeks before conferences.

So while there was a marked decrease in performance due to detraining, by the standards for the Cornell wrestling team, this would be acceptable and expected. In all honesty, 8% is quite impressive considering the team followed a 2 day a week program with only one of the days being remotely heavy.

The final point is probably the best- it’s up to the coaches to monitor their team to ensure they’re minimizing the effects of detraining. This comes down to adjusting practice intensity, lifting intensity, proper weight cutting techniques/education, etc.

It’s important to remember that in the grand scheme of things, all that really matters is the end of the year. That is what, in most cases, defines the season. So make sure you’re doing all that you can to ensure you’re at your absolute best when it matters most!

Paper 2

The focus of this paper was to examine the effects of a short-term (14 weeks) resistance training program followed by a 4-week period of detraining. Specifically, it examined shot put performance.

11 young, healthy subjects were involved. None of the subjects had anything over an “elementary level” of shot put training (4 hours a week of training for 5 weeks). In a nutshell, these individuals were far from high level shot putters.

Strength was assessed and tracked via 1 repetition maximum tests for the squat, bench press, and leg press.

Here are the results after completion of the 14-week strength training portion of the study:

Squat increased 28%.

Leg Press increased 34%.

Bench Press increased 22%.

Shot put performance increased 6-12%.

Fat free mass (muscle) increased 2%.

Here are the results after the 4-week detraining period:

All strength tests decreased between an average of 4-5.5%.

Shot put performance was not altered.

Fat free mass decreased 1%.

During the 4-week period of detraining, all subjects refrained from taking part of any kind of exercise.

“In conclusion, the results of the present study indicate that shot put performance can remain unaltered after 4 weeks of detraining in moderately resistance-trained individuals.”

Paper Referenced

Terzis, G., G. Stratakos, P. Manta, G. Georgiadis. Throwing performance after resistance training and detraining. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 22(4), 1198-1204. 2008.

My Thoughts

Again, although this is not specific to wrestlers, the effects of the detraining are still worth noting.

In this study, after only 4 weeks, participants experienced a decrease between 4-5.5% in 1RM strength.

While this may not seem significant, keep in mind that the detraining period was only 4 weeks in length.

For a better breakdown on the effects of cutting weight and, in some cases, detraining, specifically on wrestlers be sure to read this post.

Program To Prevent Detraining

If you want to be at your peak when it counts, you must take action to prevent/minimize the effects of detraining.

If you have any questions on detraining leave a comment below.

Related Posts:

Weight Loss and Performance

How To Maintain Muscle When Making Weight

The Effects of Detraining Part 2

The Effects of Detraining Part 3

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion

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