Rise Health Group – News
Strength Training for Footballers
AFL is a unique sport that requires participants to have both great aerobic endurance but also explosive speed and power at various times throughout the course of a game. Most of a footballers endurance work should be done on the track, through the preseason and maintained throughout the year. However time and again when treating footballers I will ask them about their strength and conditioning program and more often than not it is not the optimal way to improve power on the football field.
Tips for Strength training in Footballers
1. Don’t forget to train your legs!
Many footballers don’t wish to train their legs for fear of being too sore to recover for training. Unfortunately delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) is inevitable in the early stages of taking on a strength program, especially with exercises which have a big eccentric component to them. Eccentric exercise is where a muscle lengthens under load ie: squats. Although DOMS is going to occur after a few weeks of being consistent with the exercises the DOMS will disappear and not be an issue going forward. However leg strength is a vital component of being a good footballer who can run fast, break tackles and take a speccy.
2. Monitor your load in the gym
In order to maximize your results in the gym and to make sure you recover to continue to train and play at your best, load monitoring will be very beneficial. There are two simple ways to do this, either monitor the tonnage being lifted. For example 100kg X 10 reps = 1000kg or 1 tonne. Or you can multiply the session duration by a rate of perceived exertion (RPE). For example the session was 60 mins and the RPE was 5 gives a total value of 300. If you monitor your gym load you will be able to make sure your Gym work doesn’t interfere with playing performance.
3. Build strength not just size
As most footballers often focus on higher reps in the 8-10 range they actually focusing more on muscle hypertrophy than strength gains. I would recommend footballers keep their reps below 5 with heavy weights as a much more effective way of improving their strength rather than just increasing mass. Footballers require a high strength to weight ratio, so lower reap and heavier weights will achieve this goal.
4. Master your bodyweight
As far as upper body exercises go every footballer should seek to become proficient in bodyweight exercises. As they not only improve strength but also a person’s relative strength. I would recommend a footballer focus on developing strong pullups, dips and pushups for upper body strength. There are a multitude of variations of these exercises that can go from very simple to extremely advanced.
5. Focus on Compound lifts
Rather than exercises that use one joint at a time such as bicep curls, leg extensions. Footballers should focus on more functional exercises, Such as Pullups, Dips, Pushups, Squats and Deadlifts. These should be the mainstay of any footballer’s strength program. If the athlete has the knowledge the weightlifting movements the Snatch and Clean and Jerk would also be a great addition to their program. Compound lifts require you to use the most amount of muscle, so they are the best way to improve strength and power in an efficient way.
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