Updated: Jan 5
For those able to stay healthy, safe and well during this time; exercise has become even more a crucial part of our daily routines. For athletes, this has the further importance of keeping careers on track and I believe this period of lockdown provides a number of opportunities that should be taken advantage of. Here are my top 10:
Most athletes are not full time. Work, normal life and commuting all take time away from training and add to mental and physical fatigue. Lockdown has given us the gift of time. Use it!
2. Bodyweight training
Mastering bodyweight training is the basis for progression to training with external mass. Many athletes skip this stage and move straight to more advanced work or forget to go back and keep the fundamentals sharp. There is also much more to do than just bodyweight squats and push ups. Pistol squats, handstands, isometric hamstring work and difficult core variations provide worthwhile challenge with no equipment.
3. Strength endurance training
One way to achieve intensity and overload without heavy resistance is to perform lots of repetitions. Since most athletes typically train with lower reps and higher loads, this period gives an opportunity to develop a type of fitness the normal competitive year does not allow. Athletes will also experience some positive changes in their muscle architecture because of the increased time-under-tension that occurs through this type of training.
4. Jump training
Another way to achieve intensity without external mass is to jump. The benefits of plyometrics are well established and athletes can target improvements in jump height, power, and reactive strength. Whereas strength endurance training primarily yields adaptations at a muscular level, plyometrics are probably the best way to achieve neuromuscular adaptations during this time.
5. No maximal heavy lifting
Moving away from heavy lifting will allow athletes more time to develop the qualities mentioned above. A personal view of mine is that too many athletes spend too much time lifting too heavy anyway and there is a greater benefit that can be achieved from training with sub-maximal loads. If you have access to a medicine ball, an empty barbell or some bands you will see significant benefit by moving powerfully at these sub-maximal loads.
6. Breaking the monotony
If your S&C routine has been on the same path for a while you will benefit from breaking the monotony of training. The body requires new stimulus to adapt and in the normal year this is usually done by manipulating load within relatively narrow parameters and subtle variations in exercise selection. I think the wholesale change in training that is required at the moment could yield big physical changes. When normal training returns I expect some plateaus to be broken.
7. Yoga and mobility
Mobility work is never as fun as lifting heavy and running fast. Consequently is is often ignored especially if you are short on training time. Mobility work does not have to be boring though and there are many great yoga routines to follow. Ankle, hip and thoracic-spine mobility could be areas to target.
8. Testing the limits
Not all athletes love training hard and yes I know you don't have to spew at every workout, but I do think many athletes, particularly from team sports could benefit from taking themselves to the edge of their capacity more often. I like the idea of the central governor model and the concept that the body will limit our exertion if it thinks we are getting too close to our perceived capacity. Hard training can shift ones perception of how hard they can push themselves. Without team training and plenty of time for recovery this could be a great opportunity to test the limits.
9. Rest and recovery
In many sports, training for performance is not exactly healthy. The repetition of very specific movements and postures can be injurious but the fact competition is never far away means that we seldom take extensive breaks. Right now we are probably as far away from competition as we will ever be and that means we can step right away from sport specific training. Some rowers could benefit from less time on the erg and runners with small niggles have no reason to risk that run.
10. Valuing each other
During a normal season we MUST value the time we have in our teams. No two seasons bring the same group of people together and we have a duty to do the best for the those around us. I know from the online sessions I have been leading, that the groups are genuinely excited to come together each day. When we finally get to be around each other in person, I know we will value each others presence so much more. We should never take each other for granted.
If you would like to arrange an online strength and conditioning session over video for you or your team, please get in contact. Feel free to get in contact by clicking here