Sunday, October 28, 2012

Aussie Rules Training Pre Season Program 2012/13

I’m not going to try and sell this to you with great pictures, graphs, big bold text and guarantees.

This is a 16 – 20 Week Aussie Rules Football Pre Season Program.

It can be used within a team setting (it’s the exact program I’ll be using for my own football team), a small group of mates or individually.

The program consists of training programs (with videos) specifically for:
  •  Warming Up
  • Sprinting
  • Sprint Races
  • Repeated Sprinting
  • Agility
  • Tempo Running
  • Speed Endurance

This is not your 1 dimensional “running the Tan” fitness program. It is comprehensible to all facets of “footy fitness” so you’re just the quick player with no tank, or the slow, all day runner with no explosiveness, this will help you become a complete player.

For good measure I’ve also included some other drills and idea’s that you can put into your pre season training program.

Please share the shit of this post and in return I’ll give away 3 copies of the program to 3 lucky “sharees”.

It will be available in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime look out for the second installment of the “Your Program Sucks” series coming in the next few days.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Your Program Sucks Part 1

Sorry to break it to you but it’s the truth. Those 3 sets of 10 you’re still doing should be sporting the porn ‘stach from the era of which it came from.

Doing max set after max set should be thrown back into the Lance Armstrong’s closet with his performance enhancing drugs, such as the ability for everyday gym goers to recover from this type of training.

I’m not a powerlifter, I am not a bodybuilder, I do not do Crossfit, I do not do kettlebells and I don’t follow a nutrition plan. In fact I’ve been a big program hopper in the past in the quest to find what’s good, what’s shit, and what needs to be refined from shit to good.

Load Selection

Max Effort Joe Defranco Style - Set a baseline (3 rep max, 5 rep max etc) and beat each week.

Week 1 x 3 Rep Max - 100kgs
Week 2 x 3 Rep Max - 105kgs
Week 3 x 3 Rep Max - 110kgs
Week 4 x 3 Rep Max - 115kgs

Max Effort and Repetition Method Combo - set a baseline on week 1 (3 rep max) and get more reps with the same weight in week 2 then aim for a higher 3 rep max in week 3.

Week 1 - 100kgs x 3 Reps
Week 2 - 100kgs x 5 Reps
Week 3 - 105kgs x 3 Reps
Week 4 - 105kgs x 5 Reps

Auto Regulation / Perfect Rep Christian Thibadeau Style – this method involves focusing on quality work more so then total volume of work. You’d have a rep number in mind (for example 3) and you’d work in sets with progressive weight until you reach a set that visibly different then the last. When I say visibly different I mean a change in technique or rep speed so you won’t just increase the weight of your top set each week as some days you feel good and some days you don’t. The point is to push the good days for all their worth and get the minimal amount of work in on the days you don’t. A s a rule of thumb you’ll improve 6 times out of 10, equal your best 2 times out of 10 and finish below your best 2 times out of ten.

Week 1 x 3 Rep Max x 100kgs
Week 2 x 3 Rep Max x 102.5kgs
Week 3 x 3 Rep Max x 95kgs (not enough sleep)
Week 4 x 3 Rep Max x 105kgs

Sub Maximal Training Jim Wendler Style – refers to using sub maximal loads with specific percentages to improve maximal strength. It is also low volume so is great for those who don’t have a lot of time or have a shitty time recovering from moderate to high volume training.

Week Sets / Reps Load
Week 1 do 3 x 5 (last set is for max reps) 65%, 75%, 85%
Week 2 do 3 x 3 (last set is for max reps) 70%, 80%, 90%
Week 3 do 1 x 5, 3, 1 (last set is for max reps) 75%, 85%, 95%
Week 4 do 3 x 5 40%, 50%, 60%

Another way to train with sub maximal weights is to use Prilepin’s Chart where you progressively make your way through the chart. Whether you use the optimal, low end or high end of the rep range will be determined on what your weakness is.

55 – 65% of 1 Rep Max...Optimal Sets/Reps Per Exercise 3 - 6 Per Exercise...Total Rep Range Per Exercise 18 - 30...Optimal Reps Per Exercise 24

70 - 80% of 1 Rep Max...Optimal Sets/Reps Per Exercise 3 - 6...Total Rep Range Per Exercise 16 - 24...Optimal Reps Per Exercise 20

80 - 90% of 1 Rep Max...Optimal Sets/Reps Per Exercise 2 - 4...Total Rep Range Per Exercise 10 - 20...Optimal Reps Per Exercise 15

90%+ of 1 Rep Max...Optimal Sets/Reps Per Exercise 1 - 2...Total Rep Range Per Exercise 4...Optimal Reps Per Exercise 4

Biofeedback – this refers to performing a singular or series of test pre workout to find out what kind of state your nervous system is in which can then dictate how hard you should go during your session. You can start as soon as you wake up and take your resting heart rate and once you’ve found your baseline figure (i.e. your resting heart rate) then if your initial heart rate is 10% higher than your RHR then it’s time for a deload there and then but if it’s 15% higher or more then take the day off as you’ll simply dig your recovery hole too deep to get out of. Pre workout you can try a stand long jump for distance or a standing vertical jump for height and use the same percentages to determine your workout for the day.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Acing the AFL Combine: Repeated Sprint Test

This Repeated Sprint Test is the last in the Acing the AFL Combine series. It is a measure of speed endurance where you run 6 x 30 meter sprints every 20 seconds so the total test runs for 2 minutes. If you run your first set in 5 seconds then you have 15 seconds before your second set starts.

After all 6 sets of 30 meters are completed then all 6 times are added together and that is your score.

Training for the Repeated Sprint test overlaps with the 20 meter sprint because if you excel over 20 meters then you'll get more rest between your sets even if it is only a second or two but the challenge is to be able to back your fastest time up again and again so being the quickest doesn't necessarily mean you'll have the best time in this test but you would have the potential to be though if you actually train for it.

So you'd actually "train the test" in this regard for the most part but with a few modifications and I'd break it up into 2 phases.

For phase 1 I would have 8 intervals instead of 6 to give you a bit of a mental edge come testing time and I would also use a descending starting time too.

Week 1 - Every 25 seconds
Week 2 - Every 23 seconds
Week 3 - Every 21 seconds
Week 4 - Every 19 seconds

For phase 2 I would decrease to the actual testing 6 sets but again use a descending starting time.

Week 1 - Every 19 seconds
Week 2 - Every 19 seconds (beat last week)
Week 3 - Every 17 seconds
Week 4 - Every 17 seconds (beat last week)

If you can get a score close to the elite (23.59 seconds is the record by Chris Kangas) then you'll blow it out of the water when you test with 3 extra seconds per set.

So that's it for the Acing the AFL Combine series and if you have any questions on any of them or any idea's for content then let me know.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Acing The AFL Combine: The Beep Test

Before I start let it be known that I have not performed a beep test for near on 10 years and I don't look like I'm going to do one anytime soon. In comparison I have lived in Melbourne for over 7 years and only just ran my first lap of the Tan in March of this year. Again I don;t see myself doing another one anytime soon.

Even though the beep test has minimal carryover or relevance to an actual game of footy, it is still a popular test used by local football clubs and obviously the AFL Combine.

Why do they use it if it's not relevant?

Hard to say really but what it does allow is to test multiple players at one time and it is easily measurable with minimal outside variables besides surface.

There's not much to improving this but going out and doing the work, so here's what to do:

Step 1 - Perform the test as normal

Step 2 - Note where you finish, especially the level (what else would you do though?)

Each level goes for approximately 62 seconds so we'll use that as our baseline figure to run for.

The different levels also have a different amount of beeps but the gap between each beep decreases as you progress.

Levels 6  and 7 has 10 Beeps

Levels 8, 9 and 10 has 11 Beeps

Levels 11 and 12 has 12 Beeps

Levels 13, 14 and 15 have 13 Beeps

What you want to do is train the level you finish on, well for the most part.

If you finish in the first beeps of a level then train the level before it because it's the energy expended running that one that finished you off more so then the higher level where you only got a few beeps in.

Step 3 - Set your timer and run the test like you would but without doing the rest of the test, do this part fresh. Simply run up and down the 20 meters up and back using one of 2 methods.

For example lets say you failed on the 9th beep of 12th level you would do either of these options:

Method 1 - Set your timer for 62 seconds (or time level 12 in it;'s entirety to get a specific time to run for) and see how many up and backs you can do in that time, hopefully increasing it over time.


Method 2 - see how quickly you can perform 12 up and backs, hopefully getting further each time.

What this will do is provide you with mental toughness once you reach your hardest levels and it may also provide you with a little extra kick once you reach your previously failed level.

I have heard of some clubs performing the test from a different starting level so you could also do that in a fresh state if you can determine what level starts to feel a little difficult.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Acing The Combine: 20 Meter Agility Test

There's quite a few different agility tests used for different sports but the AFL uses this one in the Combine seen in the video at this link at the 2 minute mark:

Any agility has a moderate requirement for foot quickness but a huge requirement for strength, making it very similar to training for the 20 Meter Sprint. You will quite often the see the same names in the top 10 of the agility and 20 meter sprint tests which shows that they possess the same qualities.

Foot Quickness

We've probably all seen agility ladders or rope ladders at one time or another and they are instantly thought of when players think of agility training. Let me gibe the heads up, these ladders do nothing for agility.

Getting faster at the agility ladder means exactly that, getting faster at the agility ladder but there is no ladder in the test, and definitely no ladder on the playing arena.

Here is a video I whipped off Youtube showing a shit load of these "apparent" agility increasing drills:

Now have a look at the foot movements and joint angles in these drills. When do you ever take such little steps on the football field? 


This is why they will not improve your agility.

Eccentric Strength

Now we're getting to the good stuff. My training for this off season is focusing a lot on eccentric, isometric and concentric strength, where as most programs simply focus on the concentric portion.

What this allows you to be able to do is to decelerate your body when going into a turn. The quicker, and thus less steps you can take into a turn, the better. You'll still to perform a few of those small shuffle steps, but if I only need to take 3 of them and you need to take 5 of them, then I'm going to be doing each turn quicker then you, no doubt.

In the next 2 videos you'll see my training partner Rob do his 20m agility test and then mine. It is a different test then the AFL one but watch the difference in the turns:

So eccentric strength is required to slow down the quickest.

Isometric Strength

Going into a turn, there is actually a very quick isometric contraction where you have fully decelerated your body and are about to move in the opposite direction.

You now have to overcome your bodyweight like the start of the 20m sprint but you also need to overcome your momentum as well.

Again, if we have the same eccentric strength but I have the greater isometric strength then again I will be quicker at each turn because I'll be generating acceleration while your still stabilising yourself from deceleration.

Concentric Strength

This is the acceleration component of the agility run where you come out from each turn and is what traditional gym weight exercises like squats and deadlifts enhance.

One important thing that most trainers don;t know is that the more force you can put in then the more force you can put out. This makes eccentric strength very, very important.

Think of a rubber band, the further you pull it back, the further it flys once you let it go.

So to enhance your agility then basically train the same as the 20 meter sprint - heavy back squats but also include some eccentric and isometric work in with them as well at heavy, moderate and lighter loads.


The one and only technique tip you'll need for this is to stay low by dropping the hips, especially during the turns. When you accelerate out of the turns yo still want to stay low as it puts you in a far better position to decelerate then when standing up tall. This is why shorter players will have the wood over taller players, as their center of mass is closer to the ground.

So ditch those shitty agility ladders and hit the squats!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Acing The AFL Combine: Vertical Leap Test

The vertical leap test, rather then being specific to anything actually required to play Aussie Rules, is a measure of lower body explosiveness and is probably the penultimate explosiveness test as you can't really cheat during the test and it is extremely easy to implement so it's testing power at it's rawest.

Though not as technically heavy as the 20 meter sprint, it is more a product of your gym work. It requires both great relative strength as like the 20 meter sprint, you've got to overcome your own bodyweight from a stop start.

There are basically 3 components to training the vertical leap test.


Squatting is as specific as it gets to the vertical leap. Whether you use front squats or back squats it doesn't really matter and most will need to assess what variation is best for their body type and restrictions.

You'll want to lift in the 3 - 5 rep range, eventually progressing to some work win the 1 - 3 rep range for specific periods of time with use of singles, doubles and cluster sets.

Jumps / Plyometrics

Plyometrics is a pretty broad term and really anything that is used to produce fast and powerful movements. In my opinion they are poorly implemented in most routines that I see people have made up for themselves by either doing too much, too much too soon or their placement in the program. Sprinting is the greatest plyometric exercise there is but players insist on adding various jumps on top of all the sprinting we do at training and in a game not realising that they already have it covered in their training.

Obviously for the vertical leap test you want jumping plyometric exercises which is why I class them as jumps and plyometrics.

Jump squat variations is a sure bet here but be sure to use no more 30% of your squat max with the lower your squat max is, the less load, and possible none, will be used for jump squats.

That being said you can actually train the test here so definitely include vertical jumps in your training to enhance your vertical leap.

Making each squat and jump attempt should be followed by complete rest so that each rep is performed in as fresh a state as possible, just like in a testing situation.


There are 2 main things to consider with technique and that is the starting position and ammortisation phase.
For the starting position rise up onto your toes and raise your arms above your head. As you descend into your jump powerfully swing your arms down by your sides then as you jump up, powerfully swing them back up over your head.

The ammortisation phase is the transition phase from the eccentric contraction during the descent to the concentric contraction during the jump. What is important here is how low you drop the hips because if you go too low then you'll lose potential jumping output and if you don't drop far enough then cut off the vital eccentric contraction and it will inhibit how much jumping output you can put out.

Practice will make perfect here and also the use of a camera so you can study what length of eccentric contraction works best for your body type.

As you can see, training for the vertical leap and 20 meter sprint are very similar and really, training one will have a positive effect on the other but you so you can train squats the same for both but you'll need to mix around the types of plyometric exercises that you use.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Acing The AFL Combine: 20 Meter Sprint

The AFL Combine is on right now in Melbourne so I'll touch on a few of these tests and give some pointers on how to improve your results, starting with the 20 Meter Sprint.

I have touched on increasing acceleration and speed many times in this blog but the 20 Meter Sprint is a specific test with a start and an ending so it there is specific training you can do for it that is not as necessary for basic speed training for Aussie Rules Football.

Some interesting knowledge bombs about the 20 Meter Sprint are:

  • you should be able to cover the first 10 meters in no more than 7 steps
  • the most improvement in a sprint will be made through improving your front and backside mechanics over the first 10 meters
  • it is a test of pure acceleration which is a very under trained strength quality in all Aussie Rules players and it can be the difference between a forward taking a mark and you getting a fist in to spoil at the end of the game and vice versa of which I discuss here.
Here are the different stages of the test and how you can improve on them.

Starting Position

I'm not sure of the rules for the starting position but the test is performed from a standing start (where the US uses a 3 point start) so I assume that is mandatory.

The positioning of your start will dictate the entire test so it's critical that you get it right!!

Step 1 - Get the feet in the right position so to do so toe the line the line with your lead foot. If you don't know which foot is your lead foot then you'll pretty much automatically place it in front without even thinking about it. You can also try a start with each foot starting in front and then you'll definitely know.

Step 2 - For the back leg toe the heel of your lead leg then drag your back leg across to directly under your hip and that is your stance width.

Step 3 - Move into a positive shin angle which means you want the knee of your lead foot a little further in front than your ankle and the back leg at about a 75 degree angle.

Step 4 - At this stage you should be in an "athletic stance" as we call it in the game with your hips hinged back behind you and a forward lean of the torso of about 45 degrees.

Step 5 - Lastly position your back leg arm in front and your lead leg arm back behind you in your 'back pocket"

1st Step

This is what will just about make or break you. In such a short test just one mistake can result in an excellent test or a failed test.

Step 1 - Take a deep breathe in as you explode out.

Step 2 - Drive your lead leg into the ground and propel your body forward with your lead leg going through full range of motion hip extension, reaching triple extension at the toe off position.

Step 3 - Drive your lead arm back into your hip pocket and drive the opposite arm forward like a march. Keep your elbow stiff at 90 degrees but also keep the arms relaxed.

Step 4 - Punch your back leg forward with a high knee essentially stepping up and then driving down with your ankle in dorsi flexion (pulled up to your knee) aiming to hit the ground directly under your hips. You might be tempted to try and do the longest step you can but making ground contact outside of your center of mass will result in you actually slowing down as you'll be braking like trying to run fast down a steep hill.



Step 1 - For the first 7 - 8 meters stay relatively low then in the second 10 - 12 meters become upright.

Step 2 - Don't try and run like the wind, rather let the momentum built in the first 10 meters of acceleration take the last 10 meters.

Step 3 - Sprint through the line, don't lunge for it.

Step 4 - Stay relaxed as a tense muscle cannot contract as fast as relaxed one so don't clench and grit your teeth but maybe stay away from being as relaxed as Shirvo used to get.

For my regular readers you will know that I am huge fan of training acceleration but for my newer readers here's some past posts on ways to improve your 20 meter sprint:

Make Hip Extension Your Dominant Action

This Is How To Get Faster

Need Speed? Do This - NOW!!