Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Haven't Played in Years? Wanna?? Prepare Like This!

I'm a regular over at in the health and fitness forum bit and a couple of weeks ago a bloke posted about wanting to return to playing footy next year.

Here was what went down.


'...Decided to put my lazy strength training to use and get back into footy next year

Got a pretty strong understanding of strength and conditioning... read alot. Love CptKirk's work and his blog. 

As far as where I'm at right now, I'm 210 pounds/95kgs @6ft1... Carrying I'd say about 8-10 kilos of fat that'll need to go for me to get in game condition

My bench is somewhere on that long journey between 2 plates and 3... My goal is to get to 3 plates, possibly rep it multiple times

As far as what program I'm doing for that/have been doing for that for ages.. Just a basic texas method type volume/recovery/intensity 3 day a week

Haven't done deads or squats in about 8 or so months.. Kept restraining a hamstring squatting (lowbar/flat shoes).. and have been real lazy since. I was squatting around 405/180kgs and was intermittent with deadlifts so no clue where that was, but it was definitely in the 405+ territory... 

So right now my focus is on fixing my posture and mechanics with basic core work, rehab sort of stabilizer exercises around the hip and throwing lunges/cossack squats/one legged ham curls just to get my weak side/glute back up to par, along with low load bilaterial exercises like just some air squats and light high bar squats just to get the movement pattern back

Always reading alot, being active to fix this imbalance... Pretty on top with mobility.. Have followed Kelly Starrett for 4 or so years now, got band and try and clean up all my mobility ROMs especially through the hips and ankles + soft tissue myofascial foam roller work most importantly in the glutes

The sooner I can fix the weak glute/imbalance issue, the sooner I can get back to the heavy compounds and kickstart that muscle memory to get me back to where I was. Not too fussed about this, I am genetically strong squatting/general hip extension movements. In the beginning it took me only 8-10 weeks to start repping 315 squatting... Honestly I really didn't do much work or stay consistent.. I'd be on track for 2 weeks then have a week off... Looking forward to just being consistent for a whole 6 or so months.

And as far as the conditioning and body comp side of things... Been reading on the more specific sides of things for mixed energy sports... I'm understanding the whole High-Low principles and the focus on aerobic and alactic training. Not sure when i'll start doing this, but I have been researching some stuff about a guy who has combined Strength training with marathons... Concurrent training essentially. I probably could keep progressing my lifts whilst improving conditioning, but I'm a bit thin on the how to and information for that as of right now.. Just focused on fixing the imbalance and then getting the big three numbers back up. Also the fat loss/leaning period might be another issue.. Easy for me as intermittent fasting makes it so. Not sure when I'll start this as I want to first get my lifting numbers/strength levels to strong benchmarks first. 

Perhaps I can fix the imbalance, starting regaining and increasing the gym lifts, and work on conditioning at the same time, then once I've reached solid benchmark strength levels, begin to slowly lean down. Any help on how if this is all possible/how I could plan/periodize this? I got rough understandings but I'm notorious for keeping things simple..

So I guess some specific questions you guys could perhaps help me with

What's the most optimal strength based routine to get the big three numbers up as fast as possible... I've kept to the basic texas method for a long time now... Have always thought about trying a high frequency bench program like Sheiko or Smolov JR that can apparently get a 10kg PR increase in 2 months or so... 

Anyone have good knowledge on combining strength training and conditioning with the main objective to increase the strength levels, before I lean down and the priority shift to the conditioning... I know it can be done, just have a lack of knowledge and idea how to plan/cope/regulate such a thing... Based around High-Low principles? I'm not sure. it'd seem like it'd be the more time eficient thing to do instead of being lazy and waiting until I've gotten the strength and leaned down to then start conditioning...

As far as time frame.. I'd like to be cooking ready for next season... Just at amateurs so it's pretty casual.. Was playing WAFL colts a few years ago, felt I wasn't in the best condition/fitness, so I want to get back into footy, play a year in amateurs to get back in the groove, then perhaps try give WAFL level a go again. I was an elite high jumper in my teen years, got a vert that's probably high 30's at worst, perhaps 40's maxed out with solid training foundation.. Getting a bit ahead of myself, but that's the general time frame. I'm still very young, only a couple years removed from WAFL colts, so I've got plenty of youth and time. 

Also i'm a bit fuzzy/clueless on the body composition/conditioning relationship... I understand the power to weight ratio aspect, just not the former.

Long ass post.. Any help/feedback would be appreciated..."


"...The number 1 goal of EVERY local footballer should be body comp as it will make you faster and increase endurance simply by having to lose less mass...combine that with actually getting faster and improving endurance and you're set so you've made a solid choice first up

Strength wise for footy benching 1.25 x bw and squatting 1.5 x bw is probably enough for local footy and would be top end more then likely so once you get to those numbers then you shouldn't waste valuable energy resources going higher...that being said you do have plenty of time before next season

One thing i want you to do is think about how bench, squats and deads each affect football performance - let me know what you come up with

Hit some weighted glute bridge/hip thrusts for those glutes as they will give you a sense of heavy lifting once you load them up

Also think about why your hamstring keeps it mobility? is it stability? this will go a long way to fixing the problem then just trying to cover everything and hopefully it goes away

Conditioning wise it's all about aerobic capacity and alactic power and it's just a matter of how you break them up where you might go something like:

Month 1 - aecap x 2/week + alp x 1/week
Month 2 - 2 + 2
Month 3 - 1 + 3
Month 4 - 1 + 4

Something like that...remember you've got plenty of time so you don't need to rush anything and if you're gonna do footy properly such as pre-season training pre and post x-mas, then that will be enough to get you ready for that which is what the aim of your training should be now

Consolidation of stressors is something to look at which too as well as competing demands of training to get the best results with as little stress

Losing the fat will take the longest and shouldn't lose strength if doing so on "diet" if you take it slowly...there's no point getting potentially fatter when you're long term goal is to be slimmer - makes no sense

Alex Vida you mean?

Smolov won't really stay with you once it's over and it's a simply terrible program to go through - I did the jr version some yrs back - and there's plenty of ways to get 10kgs pr without tearing yourself apart

I've done sheiko too a little so if i was you i'd do that first if you're into high freq to build great work capacity which may get you the 10kg pr without the cns stress...also look at dan john's 40 day program which i also did with success and it's piss easy...i'd actually do that over's all about getting the most from the least

Going back to competing demands of training you can train max strength and aerobic cap at the same time with minimal interference IF you keep the aerobic cap low in - like 65% max has to be low...and like i said start leaning now where you only need to make 1% changes to your diet for this to happen

High/Low doesn't have to followed right now but gym would be high and aerobic cap would be low so go from there..."

What are you waiting for!! 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mini Aerobic Block

We had this weekend off footy because of interleague play so with all weekends off I like to try and utilise the extra energy resources from not training to going harder with my training.

If you remember, last season I did a mini pre-season block going into finals only to do my knee in the last game of the home and away season and miss finals anyway.

With each year I get older I 'm finding harder and harder to get a decent amount of training in between games so this week off has come as a god-sent for me right now. I also missed our last game so it will be 20 days between games for me which might actually turn into a good thing to have a break, albeit pretty early in the season.

So looked at the schedule and I had 10 - 11 days to play with for this min block where I'll train pretty much everyday but finish up the Thursday before the next game.

I'm a natural sprinter type so like the program I did in the link above, my focus is on aerobic methods.

I settled on working on 2 portions of the aerobic equation:

  1. Improving the my general aerobic conditioning as well as heart strength which leads to stronger beats meaning more blood circulated per pump which means more oxygen being circulated throughout the working muscles
  2. Improving the ability of my fast twitch muscle fibres to work harder for longer and to also recover faster bouts of alactic work which to you is repeat speed/power.

For each option I am using 2 training methods for each:

Aerobic - Threshold Training + Cardiac Output Intervals

Fast Muscle Fibers - Explosive Repeats + High Resistance Intervals

I train both aerobic qualities on 1 day and then both fast muscle fiber on the other day.

Day 1 - Threshold + Cardiac Power Intervals
Day 2 - Explosive Repeats + High Resistance Intervals
Day 3 - Upper Strength
Day 4 - Threshold + Cardiac Power Intervals
Day 5 - Footy Training
Day 6 - Off
Day 7 - Explosive Repeats + High Resistance Intervals
Day 8 - Threshold + Cardiac Power Intervals
Day 9 - Explosive Repeats + High Resistance Intervals
Day 10 - Upper Power
Day 11 - Off
Day 12 - Game

Threshold Training - after finding your anaerobic threshold (the point where energy is being supplied by your aerobic system then changes to anaerobic system which the point where fatigue hits you), then you want to train at a +/- 5 beats of that number for 3 - 5mins. Rest until your heart rate returns to 130bpm and go again.

Session 1 - 5 x 3mins
Session 2 - 4 x 4mins
Session 3 - 3 x 5mins

Cardiac Power Intervals - work as hard as you can x 60secs then rest until 130bpm and go again. I'm doing shuttle runs for this for some change of direction work.

Session 1 - 5 x 60secs
Session 2 - 4 x 60secs (I did these Friday and we had a light training run Saturday so I did the lower volume session 2nd instead of 1st.)
Session 3 - 6 x 60secs

Explosive Repeats - using an explosive exercise that allows for a minimum of 1 rep per second, work as hard as you can for 8 - 12 secs then rest 60 - 30secs. You then rest 8 - 10mins and repeat the 8on/60off. I'm doing cable swings for this where I get 12 - 13 reps per 8secs.

Session 1 - 8secs on + 60secs off x 6 sets, rest 8mins, 8secs on + 60secs off x 6
Session 2 - 10secs on + 40secs off x 6 sets, rest 8mins, 10secs on + 40secs off x 6
Session 3 - 12secs on + 30secs off x 6 sets, rest 8mins, 12secs on + 30secs off x 6

High Resistance Intervals - work as hard as you can x 10 - 12secs then resting to 130 bpm then go again. I'm doing hill sprints for these.

Session 1 - 6 x 10secs
Session 2 - 7 x 10secs
Session 3 - 8 x 10secs

So I'm half way through as you can see from my schedule above and my HRV is improving everyday even though I;m seeing a little spike in resting heart rate which is fine, it should drop pretty dramatically for Thursday, Friday or Saturday if my planning works out!

The Queen's Birthday weekend is about 4 weeks away so I'll definitely re-post that leading up tpo that week where you can too can hit it hard while you can!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Transfer of Training Part 4 - Putting It All Together

Here's what we've covered so far:

Part 1 covered the 3 basic muscle contraction types being eccentric, isometric and concentric as well as touching on the force-velocity spectrum.

Part 2 looked at how each of these 3 muscle contractions look like in action and how they can displayed in different ways.

Part 3 gave you some insight on how to organise all the different contraction types in categories to make it easier to program.

Today we're putting it all together in conjunction with the force-velocity spectrum from earlier starting from the left side and high force/low velocity side.

Max Strength is a high force/low velocity action using loads of 90 - 100%. We've all done 1rm's before and this is exactly that. A slow, grinding rep that is completed irrespective of time. In this case traditional reps with no specific tempo is best used here but it should not be the only way you lift, which is kinda the point of this series!

Strength Speed is moderate to high force with low to moderate velocity using loads of 70 - 90%. Slow eccentric reps x 3 - 5secs and isometric reps x 2 - 3secs will mostly fall into this category.

Power is moderate force and moderate velocity and can be anything from 30 - 80% depending on your muscle fibre make up and training base. Again slow eccentric and isometric reps will be used at the high force end of this with some drop and catch and dynamic effort variations being used at the lower end. You could also use drop catch + isometric options in the same rep for these.

Speed strength is moderate to low force with moderate to high velocity using loads of 10 - 30%. Here we're talking dynamic effort lifting, drop catch lifts, and also weighted throwing variations with barbells and medicine balls. Specific reps in a specific time frame is also a goody here (5 reps in 5 secs etc).

Speed is low force and high velocity and is where the more sport specific stuff comes in like top end sprinting.

Looking at our categories from last week here's they look:

Stiffness - Speed
Relax/Contraction Speed - Speed Strength + Speed
Force Absorption - Max Strength + Strength Speed + Power + Strength Speed + Speed
Overspeed - Speed Strength + Speed
Force Output - Max Strength + Strength Speed + Power + Strength Speed + Speed

You'll see that all of those 5 categories all entail training in the speed spectrum where no-one really trains at all!

If we simply break it down to sprinting speed, the holy grail of sports performance, then it looks like something like this:

1st Step - Max Strength
From Step 1 to 5m - Strength Speed
5m to 15m - Power
15m to 25m - Speed Strength
25m Onwards - High Velocity

As you can see you do still need to train all aspects of the force-velocity spectrum for optimal speed development. Throughout the year you need to gradually ramp up from high force to low force and then obviously low velocity to high velocity.

Just bare in mind that each portion of the spectrum will stress the nervous system quite a bit, especially if you're keeping back of bar velocity so you can't go gung-ho and try to train them all at the same time.

In the Aussie Rules Ultimate Training manual, the yearly program is set up exactly how I have suggested things be planned in this post which can be purchased from the Paypal link at the top of the page so grab your copy today

Monday, May 9, 2016

Transfer of Training Part 3 - Which Types of Muscle Contractions to Train?

In the past 2 weeks we've covered the different types of muscle contractions and also how they look when put into action in your training.

I like to divvy up performance training into 5 categories being:
  1. Stiffness of the Lower Leg/Foot Complex
  2. Relax/Contraction Speed
  3. Force Absorption
  4. Overspeed
  5. Force Output
Stiffness refers to the ability of your lower leg to absorb the forces being placed though with minimal muscle deformity, or as world class sprint coach Frans Bosch calls "muscle slack". Think of a sprinter in the blocks. When the guns goes off he must push back into the blocks through his lower body and then propel himself off them to get moving. 

You can see at about the 18sec mark where his lower body shifts ever so slightly to get the leverage to come out of the blocks. Asafa Powell is an ex-fastest man in the world so he has minimal muscle slack but if you ere to watch us do this, there would be a lot more time between us pushing into the blocks and actually coming out of them.

Stiffness is also a factor at max velocity pace as the less deformity you go through the better bounce you get with each step. Think of a flat footy coming off your boot where it would "sag' once it hits your foot versus a freshly pumped up ball that rebounds straight off your foot as soon  as you make contact with it.

Look at Bolt's foot upon impact - his heels stays well off the track and he pretty bounce bounces off the track with each step where us normals would collapse through the feet where our heels touch the track and our knees would buckle from not being able to handle the eccentric load of ground contact.

Relax/Contraction Speed refers to the ability of your muscles to contract then relax then contract again which is what happens with each muscle contraction. It also entails how much you can relax with each contraction too.

Right now tense your upper arm and try and curl as fast as you.

Go I'll wait.....

Now relax the arm and try and curl as fast as you can.


I bet you had a much faster curling speed with the relaxed arm.

You cannot be fast when you are tense. Heavy weights builds tension. Heavy weights might not be the holy grail of speed they're made out to be. Tension while trying to perform high speed activity also results in muscle strains and tears. You've got to be able to build tension but you've also got to be able to release it.

Overspeed refers to using methods that have you perform at a very slightly higher velocity you cannot reach on your own. This is used to train the nervous system to do its job faster (faster contraction rate, produce high force faster etc). It can be done both eccentrically and concentrically to overload specific portions of movement.

Force Absorption is what you must be able to do when landing from any height at all. You might not gain much height through sprinting but with the max velocity component you can be landing with 5 - 6 x your own body weight on a single leg with each contact when you're at top speed. If you can absorb great force then you'll be able to put out great force which leads me to...

Force Output is pretty much a product of all of the above and is really the end result that we're looking to improve.