Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's Time to Peak

With August and September just around the corner, it means that finals are just about upon us.

Where 95% of us think we need to be in peak fitness condition prior to the season, I believe this is the time you need to be at your best as premierships aren't won in March.

So for you to perform at your best when it counts, here's some ideas on how to reach or maintain your optimal performance through to the end of your finals campaign.

Keep on Training on the Track

Some teams decide to cut back training during the finals and go for a more relaxed feeling on the track and sometimes opting for pool sessions as a bonding exercise more then anything else. Unless you've played every game and have had no extended time off, whether it be through missed games or missed training sessions, then I suggest to keep on training just as hard as you would in February. AFL players have such a workload from year to year, let alone just during the actual season that they can handle an abbreviated training program and still maintain their elite fitness levels. Unfortunately our training loads are no where near what they do so we need to keep on keeping on.

Keep Training in the Gym

Those who are consistent in the gym with their strength work throughout the season will tell you that they feel an advantage over other players with their strength levels, and with the local/amateur game being more closed up with a lot more stoppages, the strength required to win the ball in close is essential to holding that cup on the last Saturday of September. Although total training volume will need to be decreased, some where in your training the intensity (training load) should remain above 90% of your 1 rep max but also use the auto regulation method which will ensure strength levels are maintained at the very least, as well as fatigued being managed to keep you fresh.

Clean Up Your Diet

This should go without saying but get off the grog during finals time. 4 weeks without a beer isn't the end of the world boys. Also get your food in order. Up the veggies, fruits and lean protein, make a deal with your missus to cook for you for the month (yeah it will cost you) and keep takeaway to a minimum.


As much as you can, try and keep stress out of your life. Now this is difficult but if you have a lot of control over your work then try and make it a low volume period if you can or if you're really keen, take some holidays if you've got some up your sleeve.

Get on Top of Any Niggles

This should be the top of the list already but it bears repeating. Resting injuries isn't a cure, the problem is still there. Joints and muscles don't just fix themselves and unfortunately most physio's give you donuts in the long run. If you have a banged up shoulder then drop straight bar pressing in the gym and lye over a foam roller at home. If you have sore knees then foam roll those ITB's, stretch those quads and hip flexors and do a boatload of glute activation and strengthening work. Remember, there is always something you can do.

If you have any specific problems then please drop me an email.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Reader Email


Hello, my name is Declan and I'm emailing you all the way from Ireland!

I'm representing Ireland in the European Championships of Australian Football (yes there is such a thing!) at the start of August. I was looking for some advice on Aussie Rules specific training for the final month before the tournament.

I've been doing gym work (bench 75kgs, squat 80kgs) but I've never done any real sport specific training, although I've done some core. I'm not sure what is too much and what is too little so would you have any idea's on what I should be aiming to do?

Any advice would be appreciated,



Congratulations on representing your country and it's good to see the site is becoming universal.

I've previously done a whole series on in season training starting from this post.

I don't have a great deal of information on your current training experience and weekly schedule, but it's too late for actual sport specific training which mostly requires a progression of training to work up to.

Whatever set up you are using though you'll want to use auto-regulation training as you don't want to to train yourself into the ground leading up to these championships. Auto -Reg training involves ramping up in weight until you hit a maximum load for a given rep number. For example you might use the bench press which would look like this:

30kg x 1
35kg x 1
40kg x 3
45kg x 3
50kg x 3
55kg x 3
60kg x 3
65kg x 3
70kg x 3
75kg x 3

* the rest between each set is just enough to change weights and get back down, but you don't have to rush

Now the point of auto regulation is that you also have a set point as when you will stop that exercise so that we don't go "too far" as we want to avoid slow, grinding reps (like you've probably done in the past). Those slow reps are what drains your recovery so we want to avoid them and keep as fresh as possible so that we can train more effectively, more often and still be 100% for games, especially during the season.

We will use the perfect rep method where each rep of each set is to be performed as fast, but controlled, as possible.

There are 3 points of force that we'll use to gauge our training.

1 - The Max Power Point (MPP)

This the the lightest weight you can use but still produce a high level of force with if you try to accelerate the load,

2 - The Max Force Point (MFP)

This is the heaviest load that you can lift where you can still "dominate" the weight that intent and actual bar speed does not change from the first set to the last set.

3 - The Max Load Point (MLP)

This is the heaviest weight that you can use without encountering a sticking point through a given set. The more advanced a lifter is, the lesser gap they'll have between their MFP and their MLP.

We want to train to the MLP as often as we can but as we recover at different rates, we won't always be able to so keep fatigue at bay, we'll also use a neural state test.

Using our bench press example from above, an exercise from set to set might look like this:

30kg x 1 - the 1st feeler set, bar speed is extremely fast
35kg x 1 - the 2nd feeler set, bar speed is again extremely fast
40kg x 3 - the 1st working set, you feel a change in the load but bar speed is still the same
45kg x 3 - the 2nd working set, bar speed still remains the same
50kg x 3 - the 3rd working set, bar speed still remains the same
55kg x 3 - the 4th working set, you notice a little more weight on the bar but you're still able to maintain your bar speed from the first set
60kg x 3 - the 5th working set, your intent and acceleration of the weight remains but actual bar speed slows just a little bit
65kg x 3 - the 6th working set, your intent remains high but your acceleration wasn't right there and although bar speed remained. This your MFP so if we;re training to the MFP today, stop the exercise and move to the next one. If we're training to the MLP, then continue on
70kg x 3 - the 7th working set, intent and acceleration are still there but bar speed again slows a little but all reps were fluent so add weight and continue on.
75kg x 3 - the 8th working set, intent is still there but your acceleration decreased again and you grinded through the sticking point. In hindsight, this set shouldn't have been attempted or you should have stopped at rep 1 or 2 (the rep before the grinding) but as you gain more experience with this method, you'll know where that point is.

To find out if we want to work up to the MFP or the MLP, we'll need to use a neural state test.
The neural state test is used to give us an idea of what recovery state we are in. If we haven't fully recovered from workout to workout, then by continuing to train as hard as you can just builds up fatigue to the point that you can start to get weaker and smaller.

We will use a standing long jump which needs to be tested in a fully recovered state. Basically choose a day to test it over 5 - 7 attempts and the longest jump you test is the baseline for your training for the month. So if you test for 5 jumps and you get 234cms, 245cms, 246cms, 241cms and 250cms, then 250cms is your baseline number.

Now before each session, test this standing long jump to see what you get. If you get 92% or more of your baseline number, then you're in a near fully recovered neural state so train to the MLP with that day's exercises. If you test from 85 - 92% of the baseline number, then train to the MFP with that day's exercises. If you test below 85% then you'll need use a low intensity, restoration type workout for that day.

As far as exercise selection goes, from the sounds of it they seem to be good but over 1 week you should do at least 1 exercise each for hip dominant (deadlifts), quad dominant (squats), horizontal push (bench press), horizontal pull (rows), vertical push (shoulder presses) and vertical pull (chin/pull ups). Core can be added to each day with traditional sets and reps.

Don't be surprised to lift a heavier weight then you have before using this method, or to lift a weight you've done before, but more easily. The ramping progressively pumps up the nervous system which allows for the high threshold motor units to fore, the one's that provide the best size and strength gains.

I hope this helps you leading up to the championships, good luck and let us know how you go.