Steven Poacher

Feel the burn: the smarter way to get fit

THIS is normally the time of year where most GAA players, particularly at club level, will be looking to get fit for pre season training – but unfortunately nothing is normal at the moment!

In an ideal world I have always said it would be great if players came back fit to play football and not to get fit but unfortunately this is not the case for a majority of clubs and players.

A way around this problem is by organising collective sessions earlier in the year (obviously not possibly with Covid) or by providing players with some individual conditioning sessions to do.

It is extremely easy for a player to take responsibility right now with all the free time they have during this lockdown. It’s a great opportunity for players to get fit.

Whatever you decide to do, one thing should not change and that’s the training method the players should choose to use.

For a number of years, I have been preaching to friends of mine about the benefits of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).

It’s not a new phenomenon but players they feel the need to still complete long, slow continuous training, sometimes on the roads.

HIIT it’s much handier, quicker, and more effective in less time. Scientifically its benefits are enormous. One particular scientific benefit is the enhancement of the EPOC effect, or to give it it’s full title, ‘Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Comsumption’ (EPOC). In basic language, the after-burn.

Imagine a car at the end of a long journey, the engines worked extremely hard and even when you stop for a considerable period of time the engine remains quite warm and there’s a lot of noise from it.

The engine only gradually cools to normal temperature after a number of hours and the exact same thing happens to your body, once exercise is over you can continue to burn more calories, a physiological effect known as EPOC.

The best way for a Gaelic gootballer to stimulate the EPOC effect is simply through HIIT.

It’s a fantastic workout, you are not plodding monotonously around a field for 30 or 40 minutes – instead the session is performed at a high intensity with specific rest periods.

Every week you can vary the venue, distances you cover, time, terrain, all just to keep it fresh and interesting but try to keep the intensity high, as the intensity is the key to influencing EPOC.

Try a HIIT session; here are some of the many benefits of such a session:

– It’s quick, efficient and not time consuming.

– Helps burn more calories/fat even hours after completing the session.

– Game specific conditioning replicates work/recovery times.

– It leaves you stronger, more powerful, improves heart and  lung efficiency and endurance.

– Trains the body to remove waste products in the muscles quickening recovery.

A simple example of a HIIT session lasting approximately 35 minutes you could perform on a Gaelic pitch would be as follows:

– Dynamic warm-up – eight to 10 minutes.

– 8 x 45 – 45-metre runs with 10 seconds on, 10 seconds off.

– 90 seconds recovery.

– 6 x 21 – 21-metre runs with 20 seconds on, 20 seconds off.

– 90 seconds recovery.

– 4 x 14 – 14-metre runs with 25 seconds on, 25 seconds off.

– 90 seconds recovery.

– 2 x endline to endline runs with 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off.

– Cool down – light Jog, static stretching – five to six minutes.

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