As a former GWS Giant, now High Performance Coach, my goal is to make elite-level coaching accessible to all - not just the professionals.
One crucial aspect of a local footballers' success is what you do in the off-season. You can either fall very far behind (if you don't do enough) or you can get extremely far ahead (if you just follow an efficient plan).
In part 3 of this guide, we'll explore a structured approach to off-season gym training that I use within my AFL Training Program. Including the following:
Building the Foundation
Developing Explosive Power
This article aims to help you get in peak condition for when the season starts!
Building the Foundation (September - November)
To start, you need to lay the groundwork. Focus on technique and hypertrophy, because you have probably lost a lot of muscle mass during the season (the gym dropped off during footy.. didn't it?) and a strong foundation is key. It allows you to gain some size to create a platform to increase strength and power later on.
Some keys in the gym during this stage:
Technique - lift with good form, no need to be going ridiculously heavy now.
Full range of motion - take your joints through greater ranges of motion for greater strength gains at different angles, to promote muscle growth and increase mobility.
Time under tension - 3-5 second eccentrics (when the muscle is lengthening) is a great way to promote muscle growth and ensure you are lifting with solid form.
High volume, low intensity - Utilise this time to get large volume of lifting in (greater number of sets and exercises), without having to fly through it.
Do some testing - get a baseline measure of where you are at. You can use your results to prescribe percentages for your workouts, and it's a great way to track your progress.
When your strength decreases your injury risk increases.
Getting Stronger (December - January)
This time of the year can be difficult with Christmas and New Year celebrations, but aim to maintain what you have built and steadily increase the load you are lifting. You can do it with a bit more speed during this stage as we lead into more power-based work.
Some keys in the gym during this stage:
Less time under tension
Shorter ranges of motion
Lower the volume, but increase the intensity
Enjoy your holidays, but maintain some level of discipline
Developing Explosive Power (February - Season start)
This period is mainly about explosive power and sport specific movements. Although they should be in your program in the previous months, a greater focus should be on these areas. This allows you to be quick, fast and explosive which has been built off your foundations late last year.
Some keys in the gym during this stage (click the links to watch a demonstration):
You'll be able jump higher, kick further, sprint faster and outperform your competitors during the season!
Injury Prevention Edge
One of the key benefits of a structured off-season training is injury prevention. By building a strong foundation, increasing your muscle and tendon resiliency, you'll significantly reduce the risk of injuries during the season. You can be the fittest person on the team, but if you spend more time on the sidelines.. it doesn't really matter.
Throughout your program you should incorporate specific injury prevention exercises.. Such as:
(Click the links to watch a video demonstration)
Bonus Tip: Aligning your gym work with a running Program
Make sure you align your gym training with a suitable running program. This is crucial to prevent overtraining, reduce your risk of injury (you don't want to be doing heavy hamstring work one day then trying to do repeat effort sprints the next) and allows you to train efficiently. By aligning your gym and running training you'll be able to perform each with great intent and energy to get the most out of yourself.
In summary, a strategic gym training plan during the footy off-season can make all the difference. It's about building a foundation, increasing strength, and developing explosive power while keeping injuries at bay.
Need some help with your off-season training?
Join my comprehensive AFL Training Program. You'll be guided through the structured phases to improve ALL areas of your performance.
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The Kicking Consultant aka Josh Growden is a High Performance Manager & expert kicking coach, making elite-level coaching accessible and affordable to all - not just the professionals. He holds a Masters degree in High Performance Sport from the University of Technology Sydney, and a Bachelors degree in Sports Science from Louisiana State University. He played for the GWS Giants when they first entered the AFL and then became a punter for American Football where he played in front of 100,000 people weekly!