Sunday, September 27, 2015

Footy Concepts You HAVE to Know About Part 2

I'm back with the 2nd installment of training concepts you may not know about, but HAVE to know about, to optimise your footy training program.

Last week we covered training residuals, lower leg stiffness, the big toe, consolidation of stressors and overspeed eccentrics so lets finish this list off.

Be Activated - this isn't a new thing by any means but the way this is done is. It's the brain child of an ex-pysio from South Africa named Douglas Heel. I caught onto this about this time last year and then read as much as I could on it (there's not a lot to go on really) and then purchased his DVD set which made a lot of things clearer. He came to Australia earlier this year bit for some reason didn't make it to Melbourne so I missed out on seeing him in person which as I've been told by other 'activators" is far better then the DVD's on their own. It refers to activating the body through a specific series of muscle activation points. This muscle activation can wake up the body and free it from defensive postures brought on by physical and emotional stress. For example when the body is stressed in anyway, breathing becomes shallower and your posture changes (hunched over). This effects your breathing efficiency as now your breathing has moved from being performed by your diaphragm to your chest, shoulders and neck. The all important diaphragm is the center of the body and is directly connected to the psoas. This crucial because our body has 2 main functions it will do above all else - it will breath (hopefully through the diaphragm) and will move (hopefully through hip flexion which is the action of the psoas). If these 2 area's can not do their jobs then the body will find another, but less optimal way to do this. This results in the aforementioned stress and tiredness mentioned above. This can also eliminate the need for stretching as an activated muscles is a long and strong muscle.

Rate of Perceived Exertion - RPE has been around for a while and is used to gauge your personal effort level for certain things but it's now being used for training. % based programs (3 x 5 @ 75% for example) doesn't take into account the daily levels of fatigue you have which means that 75% can be 65% on your great days but 85% on your not so great days. Using RPE can ensure that you are training at the level you want to, respective of the state of your training readiness for that particular day. So instead of using % based programs, try using the REP scale. An RPE of 10/10 is a single-max-grinding rep. An RPE of 9/10 is heavy but leaving 1 rep in the tank. An RPE of 8/10 is pretty heavy but leaving 2 reps in the tank. An RPE of 7/10 is heavy-ish with 3 reps left in the tank. So you can plan your week with a mix of easy, moderate and hard days based on RPE. Start practicing now as this can take a bit of trial and error to get right.

Heart Rate Variability - I posted about this and the way I do it earlier this year but it works in conjunction with RPE a fair bit. So immediately upon waking you test your daily HRV which tells you your readiness to train on that particular day. As I said above, the same weight can feel different on different days depending how well you recovered from your previous session and/or lifestyle habits. If you've got a max strength day planned but you feel lethargic and can barely get yourself out of bed then that 90% is gonna feel like 120% and you won't even move it an inch, which can send your recovery back even further. Once you get a handle on your HRV and get an idea of where it should be when you do everything right, then you can assign an RPE to the different results you get. So if you get a HRV score better then you're average or baseline, then that's gonna be a good day to hit a 9 or 10 RPE. If it's below your average HRV then you'll need to play around in 6 - 8 RPE range.

Energy Systems - you know how badly some blokes work out at the gym with 3 chest and arm days? Well I think there are footy players and coaches training just as bad, if not worse, in regards to energy systems training. In a nut shell your main goal should be to improve speed. AFL players do the same that we all do, but faster. Once you improve your speed then you want to be able to use it in a game repeatedly with as little speed fatigue drop off as possible. Now most blokes will think straight away 'let's do 10 x 100m sprints with no rest.' WRONG! For starters 100m sprints are game specifically at all as you'll never run as fast as you can for 100m in a game of footy - EVER! Secondly you might be fast for the first 100m sprint but you won't be for the others so you've trained speed for 12 - 15secs then nothing but fatigue build up from then on. Surely I don't need to tell you that the biggest performance killer is fatigue. You're next port of call is to train your aerobic system to improve your recovery between bouts of speed. So you wanna train short and fast or long and slow. Training in the middle is too slow to gain speed gains from but too fast to use oxygen exclusively for energy. It also builds up the greatest fatigue which means you can't actually do it for often or for very long before recovery becomes a huge issue.

UPDATE - I have used the "be activated' protocol pretty much everyday for the last year. In fact my warm up game days is 5 - 10mins of this and then I'm out on the ground for my active warm up. I've never been a huge stretcher anyway and have never suffered a soft tissue in my life so getting rid of that bit didn't tear me up too much!

I'll be using RPE's during the season this year in accordance with my HRV, no doubt. It's all about Saturday and if you've done the work in the months prior, then you should only have to do the minimum required during the season.

For ES I should add that there is a place for lactic work and it is a requirement of footy thus it does need to be trained but if you aren't already fast, don't have an adequate aerobic energy system for recovery purposes and have more then 3 - 4 weeks before you're first practice game then leave "training in the middle" for skill and drill work.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Footy Training Concepts You HAVE to Know About

Each year I learn about 1000 new things when it comes to training which means the stuff I did only 12 months ago can be completely different to what I do today!

While watching the Hawks spank the Crows (45 - 14 already in quarter number 1!) I'm brain storming idea's to put into my new manual but when putting something together for the masses like this, it can be hard deciding how technical to go and if it is "technical" then how can I make that simple?

Don't worry, that's my problem not yours so here's some things I'm mulling over, some of that have been mentioned in this blog before.

Training Residuals - this refers to the minimum frequency certain strength and fitness qualities need to be trained for, in order to maintain them. You can't train everything hard all the time so this is vital information to know, especially in-season when resources and time is lower then in the summer, because you don't what to lose in a future phase of training, what you worked so hard to gain in a previous training phase.

Lower Leg Stiffness - this refers to rigidity of the foot and ankle complex and the ability of it to absorb forces put through it during sprinting and to resist deformity. Think of how fast your newly pumped up footy bounces off your boot compared to when it's slightly deflated. Watch a 100m sprint in slow motion and watch their lower leg, upon ground contact the heel barely lowers towards the ground at all!

Big Toe - the big toe is THE connection from the foot to the glutes which is where all your power comes from in regards to speed and running economy. There's been plenty of ho-ha about minimalist footwear to increase the use of your toes and foot musculature but from what I've read, and by looks of the image of Usain Bolt below, I'm not sure that using all of your toes is as critical to performance as is mastering the usage of your big toe. It's not a great image as I took it off the TV, but you can clearly see the dominance of his big and second big toe while the others look all squashed together. I did a heap of big toe work in my training a few years back and the glute soreness during the season after games from this indicated that it definitely increased my glute usage.

Consolidation of Stressors - I first read about a coupe of years ago over at and is connected to the training residuals point from earlier. As stated you can't train everything at 100% all the time because you only have so much recovery to go around, and once you exceed that then a decrease in performance is right around the corner. This means that once your recovery 'cup' is filled, then introducing any other stress will overflow it so you need to decrease a current stress to allow room for a new one. Too many footy players and coaches are at fault of this and in the end when you're after speed and skill development all you develop is fatigue, but none of the training adaptations you're actually after. No good!

Overspeed Eccentric - for max velocity sprinting speed and running jumps you want your tendons to do most of the work. Alternatively for acceleration sprinting speed and standing jumps, you want your muscles to do most of the work. In both cases the more you can put into the eccentric action of all of these endeavors, the greater the output you'll have. Now when most people think of eccentric contractions they think of loading up a barbell and doing a slow negative reps but it's the slow bit that won't do jack for your footy performance. A moderate to fast eccentric is what you want because if it takes you a relatively long time to build up the eccentric energy and turn it around into concentric energy, then the ball has been and gone while you're still loading up! I will be doing a few phases for this in my own training in the coming months.

So that's part 1 of this series and I'll be back soon with the rest. Let me know any questions you have via the Facebook page;

UPDATE - although I didn't really care for the extreme glute soreness last time, I went back to the big toe stuff this off-season doing 57 sessions for them (3mins each). I also did a bunch of stiffness work as well for 22 sessions (5mins each). I've also done dome spasmodic overspeed eccentric work which I started to ramp up a couple of weeks ago before having my yearly lower back blow out last week which will put an end to that!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Read This Before Hitting the Gym This Off-Season

Here's to season 2016!

Quality 80's Scanlon Footy Card Pose!

After finishing on top with only the single loss for season we disappointingly went our in straight sets! To make matters worse I hyperextended my knee in the last round and missed our 2 finals games so I was pissed!! I've missed probably 5 games tops in my entire career through injury and I miss 2 with "my' best chance of that elusive premiership.

I frequent the health and fitness board on and a couple of weeks ago a posted put this up:

"...Hi guys, I'm looking for some inspiration for a new routine. At the moment I'm still doubting between a push/legs/pull split (5 day cycle) or a push/pull split (3 day cycle with a lighter session every 3rd cycle). Does anyone have experience with this?..."

Here was my response:

Here's a few options:

Option #1 - train everything (movement/muscle) everyday doing 1 exercise for each muscle/movement at moderate to high intensity but low to moderate volume. 


Military Press paired with Front Squat 3 - 5 x 5 - 8 leaving 2 - 3 reps in the tank on your last set
Bench Press paired with Deadlift 3 - 5 x 5 - 8 leaving 2 - 3 reps in the tank on your last set
DB Row paired with Bulgarian Split Squats 3 - 5 x 5 - 8 leaving 2 - 3 reps in the tank on your last set

* repeat every training session

Option #1 is a great option for easing your way back into training in the early off season. You could do the same exercise each session or 1 variation for each session of the week.

Option #2 - train everything everyday but do 1 exercise for moderate to high intensity and high volume in each session


Military Press 8 - 15 x 1 - 5 leaving 1 rep in the tank on your final set

Front Squat 2 - 3 x 3 - 5 leaving 2 - 3 reps in the tank on your final set

Deadlift 2 - 3 x 3 - 5 leaving 2 - 3 reps in the tank on your final set
DB Row 2 - 3 x 3 - 5 leaving 2 - 3 reps in the tank on your final set
Bulgarian Split Squats 2 - 3 x 3 - 5 leaving 2 - 3 reps in the tank on your final set

What you end up with is 1 lift exercise being the main focus of the day and the others are simply there to fill between sets of the main lift and to give them so extra volume but performed at an intensity that won't fatigue you for the main lift. You'll also notice that bench press has been taken out of this day as it is a competing lift with the Military Press as it uses the same muscles.

When planning this day out decide how many Military Press sets you'll do then spread the other exercise sets among them.

Option #3 - is the same as option #2 but you have 2 focus lifts per session at a slightly lower volume but the other lifts staying with low volume and moderate to high intensity.


Military Press paired with Front Squat 6 - 12 x 1 - 5 leaving 1 - 2 reps in the tank on your final set

Deadlift 2 - 3 x 3 - 5 leaving 2 - 3 reps in the tank on your final set

DB Row 2 - 3 x 3 - 5 leaving 2 - 3 reps in the tank on your final set
* can add in some biceps and core on this day for filler exercises

Option #4 - use a variety of rep types (not ranges) like isometric, eccentric, drop catch, rebound etc and rotate through them throughout the week. You can either do a full day of the 1 rep type or do 1 exercise for each rep type per session.

Rep Types - isometric, eccentric, pliometric (traditional rep style), high velocity, deadstop, drop an catch, rebound etc

So you could choose 4 - 6 rep types and do 1 exercise for each of them on each day


Choose 4 - 6 exercises and do 1 rep type for 1 exercise like this:

Military Press - High Velocity
Front Squat - Eccentric
Bench Press - Isometric
Deadlift - Pliometric
DB Row - Deadstop

Then rotate the rep type for the same exercise list the next training session.

So before heading off to the gm and doing your chest day have a look at what's above here and see how this could work for you.