Hell week in football – also referred to as two-a-days – is the period of time when practices start at the beginning of the season. Typically, for most football teams, hell week starts sometime in August, when the heat and humidity can make already-grueling practices that much more exhausting and demanding. However, with a little preparation and knowledge, you can survive hell week.
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Preparation Can Help You Survive Hell Week
Run one to three miles three or four days a week during the summer. One of the most effective ways to survive hell week is to get yourself in shape before practices even start. This will also help you acclimate to the summer heat.
Lift weights each week. Work your upper legs, back and biceps on day one, then chest triceps, calves and abs on day two. Rest one or two days and then repeat. If possible, work in your running on days you work your upper body.
Run sprints. Bally Total Fitness recommends running sprints three days per week as part of your offseason conditioning program. Do a ¼-mile warm-up jog, followed by 10 x 10 yards, 10 x 20 yards, 10 x 40 yards and finally a ¼-mile cool-down jog and stretching.
Follow your team’s offseason conditioning program. Some coaching staffs will put together an offseason conditioning program of lifting and running for players. They may be organized and completed at school facilities or you may do the workouts on your own time. Either way, they are meant to help you get into shape before hell week starts.
Once Practices Start
Drink water before practice starts. You should drink between 8 and 16 oz. of cold water prior to the start of each practice. This will give you a good hydration base and will help prevent muscle cramping during practice. Muscle cramping can cause prolonged muscle soreness. Continue to drink water consistently throughout the day and night after practice.
Drink sports drinks during practice. You should drink 5 to 9 oz. of sports drink to replenish electrolytes about every 20 minutes, or whenever you feel thirsty. This will help prevent muscle cramping soreness and also more serious issues such as heat stroke.
Take a cold bath after practice. If you take a cold bath within an hour after football practice, the cold water will constrict your blood vessels and help reduce the amount of swelling in your muscles from the hard workouts. This will help to reduce soreness and make the next workout less painful.
Consume protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes after practice. Chocolate milk is an option, as are specially-made sports drinks that contain protein and carbs. Both protein and carbs enhance muscle recovery and repair. Recovery drinks will also help you rehydrate after practice. Consuming foods with protein and carbs such as a protein or nutrition bar is also an option.