Wednesday, August 30, 2017

SPOTS NOW OPEN - Aussie Rules Women's Football Training Program!

My football is over (beaten in the Elimination Final and I'm not happy about it), and so are most of the women's leagues so it's officially off-season time.

I class the off-season as the most important training phase for local and amateur footballers as it's your only chance to train how YOU NEED TO TRAIN.

When training with your team, you all do the same thing for the same volume, which only actually trains a small portion of your team or players optimally, with the rest getting under-trained or over-trained.

Today I am officially opening the Aussie Rules Women's Football Training Program and I've made a quick introductory video to let you know what it is all about.

Over the next 2 - 3 weeks I'll be posting short, daily videos breaking down each point from this video, with the how's and why's of each, so you know exactly what to expect from this program.

I've played local/amateur footy for 31 years and I know what gets trained and what doesn't so as mentioned in this video, this training will focus on all the things you've probably never be exposed to before and it's what you've never be exposed to before, that has the greatest effect.

How far some of the AFLW players improved from pre-season day 1 to the last game showed that perfectly. Some of them had barely kicked a football before!

Check out the video and contact me immediately if you want in either of the training options.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Just in case you don't know me, let me quickly introduce myself.

I am a Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Coach (ASCA) and I have ran this little blog since 2009 but in the last 10 months or so I've made the push into Women's Football for a few reasons.

1 - Efficient and results driven training is scarce in all local/amateur footy, but women have some extremely specific needs.

2 - In my 10+ years of experience in personal training I have found that women can be far more responsive to learning and following guidelines.

3 - With the mammoth boost in women's football tams there is simply not enough resources to cope right now, and even though participation rates are excellent, being able to provide for these players is severely lacking.

In 2017 I ran some in-person and online speed training programs for female footballers that resulted in some excellent speed results for just 8 training sessions over 4 weeks -

As mentioned above I am a personal trainer by trade working out of a studio in South Yarra, and I also have an excellent garage set up at my home in Newport in the western suburbs.

Starting in September I will running a full AFL Training program for potentially 10 female footballers - 5 each from the South Yarra and Western Suburb area's.

The ideal candidates to fill these spots will be female footballers 100% dedicated to their footy, wanting to hit levels of football conditioning never thought possible and can attend 3 - 5 sessions per week in their respective area's.

Training and experience is 100% necessary but their commitment and compliance is.

The initial program will run from Sep to Xmas but I will also be looking to continue it right up until round 1, and possibly through the in-season as well.

I can only take 3 - 5 females from each area so I can personalise the programming as much to the individual as I can.

There will be a weekly cost for the entirety of this program.

The training sessions will be a mix of gym and track days, with the program focusing on aerobic capacity development, acceleration/max velocity sprinting speed, max strength and ACL injury prevention training and hopefully some skill work if time permits.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could pass this onto your playing group for me.

Alternatively you might want to nominate players/s who look to fit the criteria above, as a suggestion coming from the coach shows that you are there for the team, and the players as individuals.

If you have any questions then please let me know and I look forward to hearing back from you and/or your players very soon.

p.s. I also made a Women's Football Private Facebook Group earlier this year that you can join and share idea's with other like minded players, coaches and admin staff in women's football that you can find here -

Email me at

Anaerobic Threshold Training Program Results

For the last 7 or so weeks I've been using a program developed by US Strength Coach Sam Portland to improve my anaerobic threshold.

I posted a video about a few weeks ago:

It was originally a 4 week program but because of my back injury it has actually taken me 7 weeks to complete as I had a full week off training pretty then I repeated week 1 to get back into it before doing the final week last Thursday.

The original test was a 6min run that I did pre-program where I managed a pretty piss-weak 1170m with a meters per second score of 3.25m/s.

The original plan was to do the 9 sets of 20secs per set, equaling 3mins total per set which I did in a shuttle style for week 1 but from week 2 onwards, I simply went up and down at my own pace some sets were completed in less than 3mins.

I'm not a huge continuous runner, more a repeat sprint type, so each season I need to top this fitness quality up with a concentrated block during the season where hopefully it doesn't affect me Saturdays too much.

Using heart rate recovery as well as m/s as my progressional markers, I recorded my heart rates immediately after each set, then at the 1 and 2min points before going again at the 3min rest mark.

On the last set I took heart rate readings immediately after the set and then at the 1, 2, 3, ,4  and 5min marks.

On week 1 I only took heart rates after the final set of the session.

Here are my m/s readings for each session:

Week 1 I covered 1170m in 360secs for 3.25m/s

Week 2 I covered 1755m in 532secs for 3.3m/s

Week 3 I covered 2340m in 687secs for 3.41m/s

Week 4 I covered 1107m in 360secs for 3.10m/s (comeback session from lower back injury that kept me unable to train at all for 8 - 9 days!)

Week 5 I covered 2925m in 878secs for 3.33m/s

I was definitely covering more ground each week I did this program, I could sense that without any data.

My actual best time covering the 585m set was 2mins46secs which I managed for the last set on week 3 but I couldn't break that on week 5 unfortunately after the lay off.

For that best time though I did employ a tip from running coach Steve Magness (I think it was but don't quote me) that suggested to alternate short and long stride periods for distance runs. As short strides requires less energy to perform you can keep fatigue at bay if you interchange with periods of long stride. I remember doing something like 2 lengths short stride, 2 length long stride or something like that but whatever I did, I somehow managed to get my best time on the last set of the day when I was already rooted so there's definitely something in it.

My heart rates taken immediately following each set was:

Week 1 - 180 (only taken after set 2 though)
Week 2 - 168, 162, 180
Week 3 - 168, 180, 186, 174
Week 4 - 186, 180 (comeback from injury week)
Week 5 - 174, 186, 198, 192, 198

As you can see week blew me up and improvement can be seen in weeks 2 and 3. Week 4 was the comeback to running session where I looked like a baby giraffe learning to walk more than anything but week 5 was very hard also after the extended lay off.

You can also se that each set was harder for me then the previous in most cases and another win for the short/long stride thing is that my heart rate actually decreased from the previous set (186 v 174) even though I was more fatigued and ran a faster time on that last set.

My heart rates taken at the 1min recovery mark following each set was:

Week 1 - 150 (only taken after set 2 though)
Week 2 - 150, 150, 156
Week 3 - 144, 150, 150, 150
Week 4 - 150, 138 (comeback from injury week)
Week 5 - 156, 156, 162, 168, 162

Pretty consistent across the board for the 1min post recovery rates hitting the high 140's and the low 150's for the moat part which is a 25 - 35 heart beat drop which is not bad, but not great either.

Bare in mind I'll never go for 3mins straight in a game of football as a deep forward.

I might re-test my 6min run tomorrow weather permitting to see how it stacks up but this is very effective program in my book and very easy to set and do.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Reasons Why I Got Injured and How I Recovered

To provide a timeline of events today is Friday the 11th of August but for this story of mine we'll go back to late July.

In the week leading up to our July 22nd game, I trained as normal in preparation for the most important game of the year up until then where we were to tackle the 2nd placed team on their home deck (we were sitting in 4th and a game ahead of 5th I think).

In my last post "How Speed Can Win Games" I described a sprinting act of mine where I found speed I been able to find since the start of the season.

That was good.

The negative downside is that when you perform at a level you haven't ever done, or haven't done for some time, it takes it's toll on the body - a huge toll.

The greater the output, the greater the affect to homestasis (your personal "baseline") and thus the greater recovery is required to recover from the extreme stimulus.

There was actually another instance were I burst away from a apck at great speed so I was 'on" for various periods of that game meaning not only did I hit speeds I hadn't done for some time, but I did it repeatedly.

As my need for recovery was greater then normal, my immunity was decreased slightly.

Going to bed Sunday night, I felt a little tickle in the throat but thought nothing of it until waking up Monday and I was gone - a head cold was here.

This is what even slightly low immunity can do - if my immunity was fine then these symptoms would have been beaten off before they could do anything but because of my increased output 2 days prior, I was a little unprepared.

Battling on as I do, I did my regular upper body rep session Monday morning but left out my glute circuit later in the day for a nap instead.

Waking up Tuesday I was still full of head cold but apart from that, I was sleeping alright and energy was fine so come late Tuesday afternoon, I went and did my usual sprint session as planned.

Velocity wise my times weren't too bad really considering I was probably not quite fully recovered from Saturday plus the head cold.

Now the shit bit.

Putting the shopping away I carried a bag weighing less then a kilogram to the cupboard to put away when one of the two straps snapped.

The wight of the bag dropping to 1 side shifted my weight ever so slightly - it didn't jolt at all if you were looking at me - but I felt a light twinge in the lower back (my hot spot).

I stood up and felt it continuing to twinge but didn't think much of it and laid on the couch for TV time and headed to bed as normal.

Waking in the morning (now Wednesday) was a completely different story - I was done, I could barely move.

I hobbled to work and back where anything upright was a battle of the highest order.

On the drive in while going over the West Gate with everyone else in Melbourne at 6am on a weekday, I sneezed and by god it hurt like nothing else in my back, and my legs actually lost function for a second or two.

My immunity was now at an all time low!

Not only was I fighting a head cold, but now there was back pain thrown on top of it.

I knew there wasn't any injury to my back, my body was literally on the edge after Saturday footy with unprecedented output, a head cold, Tuesday sprints - all things I've done every week but it was a shopping back handle that got me - simply ridiculous.

A good indication of well being is you resting heart rate so here's mine for that time period:

Sat - 62
Sun - 67
Mon - 60
Tue - 65
Wed - 70
Thu - 63

As you can see I might have had silent head cold symptoms even before playing the game Saturday as my average resting heart rate is mid to high 50's.

The crucial part here is knowing that my back injury was not from anything I did before hand - not from playing, not from training, not from sprinting - it was from the state my body was in.

In hind site, the sprints took me over the edge and if I had not done them, then I might not of had the back blow out.

The double edges sword here is that the head cold or low back episode on it's own, would have fully recovered in 3- 5 days and I'd be fine for the game the following Saturday.

Unfortunately, you pout these 2 together and it's a battle. Try saving for a car and a mortgage at the same time and see how you go - there's only so much cash to go around, plus you still need to eat.

The same holds for regeneration and recovery. I was improving on both very slowly which meant they both hung around far longer then I wanted them to.

I actually had to miss the next game, only 3rd game missed since my comeback 6 or so years ago in my early 30's so I'm extremely resilient but there was no way I could go that day.

Teammates were making fun of my hunched over posture and the comments of "too old' were plentiful (I'm almost 39).

Fast forward to Thursday (8 days ago) and it was the first time I could run since the back episode 10 days ago, and it was proppy at best.

I did 2 sets of 3mins that wasn't too bad, but not great - I didn't approach anything near a sprint, no could I.

I pulled out of last Saturday's game Thursday night and looked forward to this week.

Saturday morning I awoke to a text from the coach that a teammate had pulled out this morning and could I suit up.

The running session had done good things to my back (it had during previous bouts of low back pain too actually) so I was in, even though I was still a bit stiff and hadn't sprinted yet.

I played the whole game except for the last half of the last quarter when the result was done for (we lost) but I was able to do most of the things I normally do, at close to top speed. My physical and mental prep was way off though and that hindered me a fair bit and I didn't get much of it in the end.

Alas yet again, the game was the best thing I could have done because and here's the takeaway from all of this.

We've all had injuries that come from nowhere for no real reason and what we normally do is cease all activity in the hope it all clears up with rest.

Rest can help but what's happened is that there was some form of bad input put into your system that causes the injury in the first place and it just sits there as you do nothing - you've given it no reason to leave.

What you need to do is out in plenty of positive input to override the bad input to change the way your nervous system perceives the episode.

All through the rehab process I was doing something everyday, even if it was simple mobility and/or glute activation drills, to provide this  positive input.

I knew that I needed my immunity to improve before the pain and head cold would go, but in the meantime I was going to do what I could as doing nothing does nothing.

Waking up Sunday (Aug 6th) was the best I'd felt since the initial game on July 22nd and I'm all good to go for this weekend too at near 100%.

So the takeaways are:

- Not all pain is an injury
- Extreme mental and/or physical stress causes bad things to happen if you keep pushing the envelope
- A single bout of negative input can undo far more bouts of positive input
- The positive input doesn't even need to be specific to the pain you have meaning if you have back pain, you can do positive stuff for other parts of the body and that can do the trick.
- When in pain, avoid painful movements where possible as that's reiterating the initial negative input that causes the pain in the first place.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How Speed Can Win Games

Here's a personal antidote from a game 2 weeks ago that hopefully doesn't sound like a huge pump up of myself but here goes.
If you've read this blog for any stretch of time you'll know that I regard sprinting speed as the holy grail of football - especially L/A football.
You'll also know that my training is based entirely around maintaining and improving speed too.
You'd probably prefer to know that speed "can be" highly genetic but it can be improved upon with the right training. Not by a huge amount, but when half a second can equate to 3 - 5m, then it counts big time.
Because it is highly genetic it means to get meaningful gains from it, it needs to be trained far longer then anything as a slow build is the best way here.
The implications of greater maximum speed output is explained in this video from earlier this week:

You'll also be interested to know that aerobic system development is only 30% genetic so it has huge trainability compared to speed which means you don't need to spend as much time and effort on it as you think to make great improvements from season to season.

I did my very speed session way back on September 7th, 2016 which would have been 1 -2 weeks after the season finished last year.

Since then I have completed 62 sprint specific training sessions.

Now back to my story of 2 weeks ago.

At the time we were 5th on the ladder and playing 2nd place, who beat us the last time we played.

We were playing at their deck which is right on the beach so the wind can provide them with a pretty handy home ground advantage but we were still confident of a win with some playing players making it back.

We started off well in the first quarter kicking to the scoring end which obviously meant we needed to defend against it in the 2nd quarter and if you can defend 1 quarter in a game like that, you've pretty much won the game right there as it's now 2 scoring quarters to 1.

They kicked the first 2 goals of the second quarter to claw back to a goal or 2 so we needed a goal against it to break even for this quarter.

I had gone for a ball on the wing coming out from half back which bounced sideways and rendered me useless for that moment but it had bounced to one of my teammates who pumped into the forward 50 about 40 - 45m by the time wind held it up.

Our full forward couldn't quite make the drop of the ball but had planted himself in front of his defender and opened up a corridor for the ball to go through in th hope that he could turn his defender around somehow (he's now real mobile!).

After the crappy bounce I'd turned around and started making it back to goal, knowing that most of our forwards had been sucked up the ground and that I'd need to get back to assist Buckets.

I was 1 - 2m behind two opposing players with 1 either side of me running back to goal when Buckets made a corridor for the ball to bounce through, so I was 55 - 50m out from goal at this point.

I knew I had one of the blokes for speed but I wasn't sure about the other bloke who usually plays on me against this team and has stayed with me on various occasions but once I saw the ball bounce past Buckets, and with no other players between the ball and goal, it was go time.

On went the afterburners and I managed to burn both opposition blokes off and run into an uncontested goal.

I was pretty chuffed because at 38 and a half, I'm probably not meant to be able to sprint like that.

Later that night we had a club function and a bunch of senior players watching our game actually mentioned it to me so it must have stuck out a bit in a lowly game of reserves football.

What really stuck with me was that one of the senior blokes said "you must be really happy because that's exactly what you train for."
I hadn't actually thought of it like that but he was right.
That moment right there showed that my training had done what it is meant to do and even better, in a game situation.
That's direct training transfer right there - the holy grail of training.
On top of that it gives me the confidence that going forward into finals, being able to display my speed like that may be the difference between winning and losing a final.