PART 2 - Logistics
Now that you know where you stand, it's time to start building that strength so you can be more efficient, faster and generally better at your sport.
Every team and every athlete is different. Science tells us in an ideal world strength training will be kept separate from Field Training and Aerobic Training. However many of the studies done in this area are done in ideal circumstances and with professionals in mind. For amateur field sport athletes we have to be very practical. We also have to be conscious of;
For me once field training starts then the ideal scenario is this: strength training takes place using body weight stability and compound movements in the warm up and then 2-4 basic resistance exercises after training in an adjoining gym. If the players have done a good Pre-Season as I have detailed in the beginnings of this series then this will work perfectly.
How to work on your strength in season?
Knowing the fragmented Gaelic Games season, there is always a chance to load up on more voluminous strength training again amongst the various down times throughout the year. I advise coaches and clubs to go with a few Mini-Pre-Seasons throughout the season, allowing players short breaks of 7-10 days if possible and come back and load up again. Continuous training from November/December right thru for 10-12 months just does not make sense, and indeed is unnecessary. So for that reason 10-15 mins after field training 2 nights per week is sufficient to maintain and even build strength.
A simple program like the below should work well:
What if there is no gym access near the pitch?
Of course not all clubs are going to have a gym right beside their training pitch. There is still a large number of coaches within Gaelic Games who do not value S&C and in particular Resistance Training and will tell players to do Strength work “on their own time”. Personally I think this is lazy and dismissive of the coaches not to mention inconsiderate of the players lives. That said, sometimes it logistically just does not make sense.
Again the set up of training matters. There are 2 common training day set ups in Gaelic Games - Tuesday & Thursday, Tuesday & Friday. Tuesday & Friday seems common in the most rural clubs as very often they will train Fridays to allow players working in urban centres to come home. As Ireland becomes more urbanised and centralized around Dublin, Cork & Limerick i think many more clubs will adopt this approach.
Either way has its pro’s and con’s. With a Tues-Thurs set up I would have three options to consider.
1. Gym Monday and Thursday morning
The benefit of this option is a nice 36ish hour gap from Monday morning to Tuesday night training. This session should be recovery initially (I'll do an article on recovery sessions in the future, and they are not in an ice bath!!!) and then a simple and quick stability warm up with Squat & Pull exercises. If you become good at this you could be done in 40 mins.
The benefit is while it may be hard to get going the morning after a game it will enhance recovery for Tuesday night as long as you do not over-do it. However the con of this day is it may be too soon for some players. A particularly combative player or a fast twitch machine may be excessively sore and it may just be too early. There is undoubtedly some trial and error involved here. I personally like it as it will speed recovery from game for most people and you still have a day and a half to training. On top Wednesday is off.
The double day Thursday would mean being very careful with loading again. It would also depend on your training sessions. One would assume the Thursday night session in between games will be short and crisp, at least it should be. This would be Stability, Hinge & Push day in this set up. Under 40 mins again critical, even 30 if you are efficient and staying off Tinder in the gym.
2. Tuesday morning and friday morning
The option may appeal to some players, and arguably Fast Twitch players. Fast Twitch Machines as I call them are the power players who are quick, accelerate fast and are explosive. Darren O’ Sullivan, Sean Powter, Amy O’ Connor and Kevin McManiman are the standouts in Gaelic Games. They are bullets. Players like these tend to get injured a lot though. And I think it may be due to them being treated the same as everyone else. Not always but they tend to be balls of fast twitch muscle.
In a very general sense these players fatigue faster and differently to others. So a rationale for them may be the extra time from a game on Sunday to Tuesday morning may be more to their liking. There is the trade off of a double day of training on Tuesday night, but again it will allow for a longer break from Tuesday to Thursday or even Friday morning from that double day. Over time these players if trained correctly do become robust and improve their aerobic capacity and general output on the field.
Unfortunately, much of the damage and injury sequence is done early in their career. Very often they will be gone through a College/Club and possibly county mish-mash between 18 and 22 where they get very little downtime and never really recover. Again that’s a whole other debate. But it is good to be aware of it.
Going again Friday morning may mean another double day, but i like the High-Low model and loads of days off with these types of players. They also tend to respond positively to it themselves as well. So they could quite conceivably have Mon-Wed-Thurs-Sat off. In season some people may need that. This may also work for married or particularly busy people and athletes with kids. Condensing the training to give yourself a break.
Another option here is to do my preferred approach and jump in car after training and head to the gym even if Club facilities do not allow. That condenses training even further. While we all take our sports seriously we have to put them in their rightful spot. Some people think gym work is unnecessary and “we’re not professionals”. They tend to get injured a lot in my anecdotal experience and say things like “just unlucky” often. Luck has very little to do with it. Modern life is sedentary. Think of gym work firstly as an intervention between the mess office work, driving and TV does to you and being able to even play your sport. Performance comes after that and certainly can be enhanced in the gym, but that takes time too.
3. Monday morning and Friday morning
The 3rd option is one I like too and I think really suits the Tues-Thurs field session setup. Early Monday morning gym session might be tough but I think the benefits are huge both for recovery and performance but also for general well being and getting your life off to a good start that week. The cons are like I mentioned before, for certain people and the fact that you have to pull the gear out 5 days in a week, but the pros are multiple. Recover from;
All in all it has to suit you and your life, but this overall structure and planning is worth giving a bit of thought to.