One of the biggest downfalls I see in a lot of training plans is the use of training like a bodybuilder for an extended period of time. I don't mean hypertrophy, I mean putting away the competition lifts and actually getting stronger in other lifts and actually training your weak muscles to force growth. If your shoulders are weak but you always do them 3rd after pause benches and some other bench variation they will always lag behind. Learn to prioritize and build different muscles away from a competition. This will lead to bigger totals and a longer career.
Some of my favorite bodybuilding techniques I like to incorporate into my off-season training are things like muscle round sets, pre-exhaust sets, pump sets and giant sets. Each one of these techniques does two things, 1 they take a ton of stress off of the joints because you are using less weight and 2 they help you gather up more volume without over taxing your CNS with heavy loads. So you can see there are 2 very different approaches when it comes to how I set up my off-season and my preps. One is geared towards growing muscles and keeping myself healthy while the other one is about perfecting technique and building up to a 1 rep max.
Now to dive into some of these techniques so you can start to incorporate them into your plan. A muscle round set is something I got from Dr. Scott Stevenson of fortitudetraining.net. It is basically an exercise that you have determined a rough 15 rep max for, you take that weight and do 6 sets of 4 with it. In between sets, you have 2-3 secs of rest before performing the next set and you are allowed one drop in weight throughout the 6 sets so plan a smart approach to get the most out of this set.
Pre-exhaust sets are pretty standard within the bodybuilding community. You just take a lagging body part and do 3-5 sets of higher reps before starting your next movement to pre-exhaust that muscle. So if you want to build up your chest you could do 3 sets of 20 reps of DB Flys before benching. This will allow you to get more volume into your weak muscle and also your muscle will be primed and ready to work even harder to keep up so the muscle breakdown is higher which will allow for more recovery and better growth.
Pump sets are pretty simple you take an isolation movement and you just fill that muscle up with as much blood as possible with high rep sets taking 1-2 reps shy of failure. A great exercise for this is triceps pushdowns, a lot of powerlifters have a hard time doing triceps extension movements because it beats up their elbows so doing some triceps pushdowns for 20-30 reps will fill your arm up with a ton of blood which helps shuttle nutrients to the area to promote recovery and health, it provides a break from the heavy elbow movements and still elicits growth. A pump is not always an indicator of growth but some people believe that chasing a pump will help your muscles grow through a mechanic called cell swelling.
Giant sets plan and simple hurt but are a great way to accumulate a ton of volume to an area without over stressing it. You basically pick 3-4 movements of a lagging body part and you perform them back to back with zero rest between them. An example would be if your hamstrings where lagging behind you would do hamstring curls, DB stiff leg deads, back extensions, and hamstring curl different variation. This will destroy your hamstring but because the goal is volume and diversity the load is never to heavy and the moevements play off of each instead of directly mimicing the same patter.
Refocus your off-season training to growing and getting healthier and not only will your total improve but so will your longevity in this sport.