Wednesday, January 29, 2014

5 Random Footy Training Tips Part 4

Had a busy and not really-home break so far bit it's all over so I'm back with another 5 randoms tips post.

Random Tip #16 - To Gain an Edge, Train What the Others Don't

Here's 99% of footy trams pre-season training summed up: long and slow runs, some 200 or 400's with no justification for distance or rest periods and some exceptionally poor sprint and agility programming.

Now apart from most teams missing the boat on getting the basics correct why not focus on what they don't train as well as what you must train?

You MUST train aerobic capacity - no argument there. But do you need to spend session after session doing it? Negative.

So with some decent programming there should be time to train some other fitness qualities such as maximum speed, repeat speed, agility, hip strength, core stability/strength (sit ups is not core stability work!) and footy specific variations of all these points.

If you're team hasn't already, then then they should really look into getting a strength and conditioning coach, not personal trainer, or at least liaise with one. Hint - I'm a second away from qualifying as level 1 strength and conditioning coach!

Random Tip #17 - Individualise to Some Degree

AFL strength and conditioning is all about individualisation within a team setting. Players have personal programs that are implemented within their teams training such as specific rehab, gym and fitness programs. Now of course us local teams don't have the coaches and know-how to do all they do (but re-read the last part of tip #16) but for everyone to be successful you need to find a way.

You must have already heard that "you're only as good as your bottom 6 players", and that could not be more true so is it more critical to make sure they improve or the players that turn up year in year out and do a lot of stuff on their own?

Breaking fitness drills into groups is a good start encouraging players to eventually move to the group above them. Auto regulating training is also a good way to ensure most players are training at the level that is suitable for them. I wrote about this years ago and actually got a bit of a bashing on for it when I posted it over there but low and behold the AFL now do this, calling it max aerobic training (for memory).

Random Tip #18 - Position Specific Training

This is similar to tip #17 and again requires a bit of know-how about what each position requires - but a bit more then endurance for on-ballers. If you have a burly full forward who you want to park in the forward 50 then it doesn't make much sense to have him running 400's with the midfield group does it? And this will possibly rob him of his strength and explosiveness which is what he really needs for 1-on-1 battles and leads.

Random Tip #19 - Assessing and Testing

      A lot more teams seem to be doing some form of testing these days which is very good to see. The next step they need to take though is to actually program their training to improve these tests. Teams will now often test a distance run, a sprint of 60 - 100m, some form agility and so called "strength tests" of push ups and sit ups.

      This poses 2 questions to me straight away?

      1 - Why have they chosen these tests?


      2 - Will they actually train them specifically or just train as normal and hope they get better at them?

      It seems to me that point 2 is prevalent if local/amateur footy so its time to take the next step with this.

      Random Tip #20 - Speed Work to Start Short and Finish Long

      During sprinting there are 2 main phases being the acceleration stage and the max velocity phase. 

      Acceleration usually refers to first 20 - 30m with max velocity being the next 20 - 30m.

      Within 100m sprints there are a few more stages like the initial start, the drive phase between acceleration and max velocity and also speed endurance that follows max velocity but for the sake of footy let's keep this simple.

      In footy you'll sprint as hard as you can over 10m then you do for any other distance. One can only hold max velocity for 1- 2secs at best before we start to slow down so if you are doing 100m sprints as a test (which I suggest you don't) then it's more a test of who is slowing down the slowest.

      Anyway you need to start at the start so start at accelerations over 10 - 20m and work them up to the 40 - 60m mark while layer on introducing some max velocity work with flying sprints over 10m and working up to 30m. You don't really need to go any further with these distances because with speed development it's all about quality of work, not quantity. This also means you need FULL REST BETWEEN SETS!! 

      Yep, that's so important it needs capitals because if I see anymore incomplete rest speed work I'll shoot someone! 
       Ponder those til next time - 2 Weeks til Footy!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Repeat Speed Training Block

A couple of weeks ago over the Christmas break I decided to do a repeat speed training block. Reason 1 is because I wasn't sure of what gym stuff I would access too and I'd done about a million squats since September so I due for a new stimulus.

I also knew I might be sketchy with my footy training appearances so I thought if I just do this now then I'll have it under my belt and I can build on it a bit more in 4 or so weeks time while maintaining now.

So I had 2 workouts I alternated with and I trained every 2nd day until all 8 sessions were completed. I didn't make this up by the way and I actually don't know where I got it from but I found in my archives so credit to someone for this.

Session 1

40m sprint every 30secs x 5 sets + 20m sprint every 20secs x 10 sets + 10m sprint every 10secs x 10 sets.

The 40m sprints progressed from 5 to 7 to 10 to 12.

The 20m sprints progressed from 10 to 12 to 15 to 17.

The 10m sprints progressed from 10 to 15 to 20 to 20 (same 2 sessions in a row).

Session 2

I wanted to incorporate some agility into this as well so I did a 16 - 17m up and back sprint (I counted steps and it was my foot x 55 up and back).

If your not conditioning your self to sprint stop, change direction and sprint again then rethink your program. Rarely will clubs do this, or do this properly and I know my club hasn't done it since I've been there.

Anyway it started with 2 x 8 x ub with 24secs rest with each sprint taking 7 - 8secs. Even if it took slightly longer I just kept the rest at 24secs. This progressed from 2 x 8 to 2 x 10 to 2 x 12 to 2 x 14.

There was a surprising amount of volume in this when I added this up too:

Session 1 progressed from 500 to 670 to 900 to 1020m. Session 2 progressed from 640 to 800 to 940 to 1200m.

The total volume covered in the 8 sessions totaling 5490m. 6kms of high quality sprints is a great result in 16 days. I'm really not into "slow" sprints (200's anyone?). Bare in mind that elite sprinters can hold max velocity (top end speed) for maybe 2 -3secs before they start to slow down and you can see how the further you make the sprint, the less of a sprint it actually is. They don't have any carryover to a real game of footy and if they do then you should be teaching your players to rotate far more often.

My results were quite pleasing too even though with block training your best results won't come until the same amount of time as the block has come around. This is because block training is used to specifically train a strength or fitness quality so as to over train it somewhat so then you give it a rest and let it super compensate where hopefully it comes back bigger and better then before. So for a 2 week block mine, I'll see the major benefits in a weeks time.

I took a lot of heart rates in between "portions" of workouts as well as after them. Fitness is not a matter of how far you can. It can be, but footy fitness has a great speed element so therefore there must be a time limit or distance limit that's relative to footy. 10kms at a jogging pace is not relative to footy because if you did that on a Saturday without sprinting you would not touch the ball.

With these bursts of speed comes fatigue which is really where you're fitness comes in because it's how fast you can recover to go again at top speed that makes you a fit player.

At the completion of my workout I always finished up in the 174 - 186 heart rate range which is 95 - 100% of my heart rate max so I was working extremely hard each and every session.

Even though the volume increased each session my heart rates still only took 3 - 5mins to return to 60% of my heart rate max which is when I would go again if it was between portions of a session. If you go toonearly when you;re not recovered enough then those 7sec sprints will be 9 or 10sec sprints and you're done. This is a clear example of why possessing speed is also important and again if you're not training it then what's the point of training repeat speed? What are you actually repeating?

Back to heart rate recovery, I also used some diaphragmatic breathing during recovery which got me back to 60% far quicker then just regular breathing. I would strongly suggest that when you finish up an intense activity then do 30 - 60secs of diaphragmatic breathing to get your self back to a parasympathetic state and thus quicken up recovery.

Anyway my current block is now geared back towards to speed with a block on developing stiffness in the lower leg. This block will go for 5 weeks but it's not very demanding as it's a lot of low level jumps and hops so I'll still be able to do some maintenance work for repeat speed and aerobic capacity and go to footy training when work allows.

Wow it's hot....................................

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What Have You Done to Dominate 2014 So Far?

Things got pretty hectic at the end of 2013 there so once again I'll endeavor to be more regular in 2014 but I'm pretty sure I've said that every year since I started this!!

Anyway I was looking back on what I've done so far this year and thought I would give it some air time on here so you can maybe take some idea's or pointers from it.

Background - for those new to the site I'm naturally an explosive guy and not geared (not care) towards anything over 10secs. I can get away with it a little bit in footy from being able to read the play quite well and possessing pretty good skills but NO MORE. Back when I was a young'en I was the same but I also had very good aerobic capacity which fuelled my anaerobic capacity and I would finish top 5 in all our 3km time trials and was 1st or 2nd in speed and repeat speed.

Now I want that back!

Block 1 - September 1st to October 19

Focus - Sprinting and Back Squat Strength

What I Did:

Sprinted 34 out 42 days with a mix of starts, acceleration and max velocity drills. Speed needs to be trained every 5 days just to be maintained and considering I barely trained last year, my sprinting speed was almost snail pace. All up I sprinted just under 6kms in that time.

Last off season I got my back squat up to 130 odd kgs and wanted to get that back there as soon as I could so I didn't have to squat heavy the entire off and pre-season. I tested at 113kgs in the last week of the season so I had a bit of work to do. I squatted 31 out of 41 days and that included a blown back 1/2 way through that I battled through like a trooper. In the end I managed 128.5 which is close enough in my book.

I also did  hip thrusting block where I did some form of glute or hip thrust for 35 out of 41 days not really going for numbers but rather feeling every rep of every set.


10m sprint went from 2.2 to 1.6secs and 40m sprint went from 6.22 to 5.56secs so excellent results there. Bare in mind that they weren't professionally timed but i think they're pretty close the way I film it and time it off the video.

I also did daily training of the foot/ankle complex to improve stiffness which i think helped tremendously. I posted about here but have read a lot more about it since and I think it deserves another go.

Back squat tested at 113kgs the week before the program and retested at 128.5kgs after the program. The most impressive part of this was that i didn't have lift higher then 122.5kgs during the program to get it up that high. Frequency and sub-maximal training rules!!

It was a pretty full block as I also tried out a sub-maximal but not as frequent bench pressing program just to hit the upper body with something. The big surprise here was that I didn't have to go over 85% for any of the program either and went from 100 x 1 pre-program to 100 x 3, an projected increase of 9kgs in 4 weeks!


If you wanna get faster then sprint, and sprint frequently but obviously it requires some expert programming which I'll be providing very soon so look out!

Also if you have the luxury, and if you want it enough you'll make sure you do, then high frequency sub-maximal work could be the answer you're looking for in getting stringer quickly. And without the nervous system burn out and joint pain.

Block 2 - October 20 to November 23.

Focus - Triphasic Training

I ran a whole pre-season of this last year and as it states in the manual, only the one's who can go the hardest for the longest, survive as it can beat you up good and proper (which it did). The constant heavy loading gave my back hell but just a very dull ache not an actual injury or anything. This year I decided to do a shorter block of it.

What I Did:

Instead of doing a whole 26 weeks + the in season model for another 12 or so of it, I cut it back to 5 weeks as a top off for my new back squat strength. I decreased the %'s down a bit too. So I ended up doing 2 weeks of eccentric focus, 2 weeks of isometric focus and 1 week of concentric focus each with french contrast training too.

I also continued with sprinting 3/week with a tilt to the max velocity side of things in regards to volume break partitioning and I introduced some tempo runs to work on my aerobic capacity with footy training coming up soon.


Back Squat tested at 131kgs for memory but it's not about the numbers with Triphasic it's about change of direction and rate of force development on the field. Bench Press tested back at 100 x 1 for memory.


I think you can get the same out of applying the principles in any program then running the entire program in regards to eccentric and isometric loading.

Block 3 - November 24 - December 21

Focus - Sub Maximal Explosive Lifting

What I Did:

Again using sub maximal load I started heavy in week 1 and decreased the weight each week to up the velocity of my lifting to hopefully carryover to training for early next year. Again I sprinted 3/week again favoring max velocity work a bit more then starts and acceleration. I also kept up the tempo runs which increased with volume each session.


I peaked in week 2 of this program but there was a lot of "getting it done before Christmas" going on so my focus was lost a little but the speed of most of the reps in week 2 was excellent.


You can lift heavy, but you can't lift heavy fast. So drop the weight 10 - 20% and focus on acceleration because if you do anything as slow as a maximum squat on the footy field, you won't be seeing the ball too often.

Block 4 - December 11 to January 11

Focus - Repeat Speed

I have 2 sessions of this to go so I'll update this at the end of the week.

A long one for the 2014 comeback but let me know what you've done and what you still hope to achieve in your preparation for season 2014.