Performance Training at Home
For the purpose of this blog, we are going to use football as the performance sport, although the principles that I want to talk about can be used in in your training for other sports.
At the minute you might be having a very unusual mid-season break or your training and match schedule might be very different to what you are used to. Perhaps you are not playing games? Your club training, both technical-tactical and conditioning sessions have been shortened or you have reduced numbers and you’re having to adapt. You might not even have any club training at all, and you’re sat at home itching to get back out on the field. You certainly don’t want your fitness to fall behind for when you can return, so it’s more important than ever to make sure that your home training program is exactly what you need so that your on-field performance is not affected.
Well, here’s my take on what you can do to optimise your fitness and performance.
Football is an intermittent sport, it involves, running, sprinting, jumping, changes of direction and agility. You’re not just continuously running for two 45-minute periods, there are periods of recovery (walking, standing) followed by periods of activity (sprinting, running and jumping). It is not continuous and there are a lot of demands placed on the body, so simply going for a run is not going to cut it.
For the short sharp sprints, you need energy quickly, your body will use the Phosphocreatine (and anaerobic) energy system to produce energy as it is the quickest, however it also has the lowest capacity – so it won’t last long, but will replenish itself, so you can’t just rely on that for a 90-minute game. You will also need a high VO2 max (usually anywhere from 55-75 ml/kg/min, some elite players can equal elite marathon runners) as the aerobic energy system provides the largest portion of energy for a match. These are two completely different energy systems that require different training methods to produce changes from.
Lower levels of aerobic fitness are linked to fatigue, and more repeated high intensity bouts of work are also linked to greater levels of fatigue – neither of which are great if you’re trying to play your best football, especially in the second half, and you’re not training like you used to there is a higher chance that your fitness has dropped, meaning you may get fatigued even quicker when you had back to training. You also need the muscular power and strength; co-ordination & you need to keep so many variables at a high level it can seem a bit daunting.
So how do we train for all of this?
Well, as with anything I do, I like to try and keep it as simple as possible, and if we follow the training principles of specificity, and create a progressive overload there is absolutely no reason why your performance needs to take a dip. It calls for Concurrent training – where we are training to stress both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Some of the training modalities that I would use and that can be done at home are as follows.
First off, I want to introduce you to Sprint Interval Training (SIT); now you’ve probably heard of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and now its benefits, so how does SIT differ? Essentially it comes down to the intensity that you are working at. During a HIIT workout you’re working at around 80%+ max HR where-as during SIT workout you’re aiming for 95%+ Max HR, SIT is much more intense.
HIIT is fantastic for general population and certainly has plenty of benefits and reasons why you and can bring about many positive adaptations. However, sprint interval training can also improve aerobic performance output; improved mitochondrial respiration (converting energy sources to ATP for resynthesis – more energy available) and increase power, just to name a few, which are great for performance.
A drawback to HIIT in relation to performance training is that it can produce an interference effect that can actually limit your strength training gains. As I just mentioned, SIT can increase power which is vital. SIT is also very easy to implement while at home, all you need is the outdoors and yourself, and everyone can usually find access to some open space, and then you sprint. Anywhere from 5-30s max effort intervals with up to 4 minutes of recovery. A very time efficient method.
For me, when it comes to training strength and power at home, plyometrics are fantastic and my ‘go to’.
Plyometrics are quick, powerful movements, using a pre- stretch, or countermovement, that involves the stretch– shortening cycle. Often reactive involving eccentric contractions, followed immediately by an explosive concentric contraction. Exercises such as jump squats, bounding, single leg hops, broad jumps, pogo jumps are all plyometric. They can Increase in muscular force and power resulting in an increase vertical jump height, jump distance, strength, running speed, and agility. Could you ask for anything more for performance training?
Lastly, just to ensure there is no drop of in your endurance ability, I would always want you to be completing a longer CV session where you would be covering a similar amount of distance to what you would in a match, even if it’s just so that you know you can go the distance when you do get back playing. This is essentially a ‘game replacement’ session, it would be ideal if you could find a local pitch that you can use, even take a ball with to add a technical component in.
But I wouldn’t program this as just a steady state run; you need to be hitting different HR thresholds.
If you have GPS/HR data from games we can make this even more specific, during a game all players won’t cover the same distance or even intensity of runs. Imagine a striker compared to a winger, a winger might complete runs of greater distance whereas a striker may complete more short distance sprints – you don’t play the same, so you wouldn’t train the same.
Steady state and a lot of cardiovascular work recruits more type 1 muscles fibres that are more fatigue resistant – which yes, sound like it would be beneficial to sport, but they can also limit your strength and power which require type 11 fibres. These are what we are trying to increase through our SIT and plyometric work, as an increase in type II muscle fibre recruitment will benefit performance from faster muscle contraction, Greater PCr and glycogen stores (anaerobic energy substrates) and more forceful muscle contractions to give just a few examples.
Yes, there might more in your home training program than just these three things, but these are the main factors that I would want any home training performance plan to include. Just because you’re not with your club doesn’t mean your performance has to suffer.
I hope this blog help you with your performance training at home! If you would like 1-1 support and guidance with this, click HERE to get in touch.