The Muscle: The plan to get back on track

LET’S start by saying Christmas is there to be enjoyed. I stumbled across a quote last week that implied that it doesn’t really matter what happens this one week in the year it’s about your habits, discipline and application across the remaining 51 that count.

If the last week or so has been a gluttonous one whereby you have consumed more calories than usual, moved a little less and your sleep pattern is anything but regimented then you will have a slight bit of readjusting to do to get yourself back into neutral. Today I’m going to address the necessary lifestyle alterations that can ensure you can hit the ground running this January.


Often when I mention rest and recovery to a player, they will often overlook the single most important component; sleep. A solid, structured sleeping pattern has many benefits to be utilised by a GAA athlete. Firstly, it reduces stress levels. If the body doesn’t get enough sleep it will react by producing an elevated level of stress hormones (Cortisol). When we aren’t in a stress state  we are better placed to achieve high performance. Sleep also has a direct correlation with weight gain or weight maintenance. A structured sleep pattern will help you keep your weight under control by regulating the hormones that affect your appetite and thus should reduce cravings for high calorie foods. Among its many other benefits, sleep also aids with the production of protein molecules that can strengthen your ability to fight off infections. This obviously aids any strength and resistance training also. If you really want to see progress, get the lights turned down early in the evening.


It’s not inconceivable to think that many of us, over a period of the last week, have grossly exceeded our normal calorific intake. This is ok when you understand when it’s time to rein it all back in. The mistake that can often happen is a relaxed week becomes a relaxed month, two months and then you’re in a cycle that becomes harder and harder to break.

To begin easing towards a more balanced nutrition plan start with the basics, lets up our water intake.

Firstly, there is no universally agreed quantity of water that must be consumed daily but increasing our intake of water unequivocally will provide us with the following benefits to name but a few.

• Aids digestive system

• Flushes body waste

• Aids weight loss

• Carries minerals and nutrients around the body

• Delivers oxygen throughout the body

• Regulates body temperature

Regarding nutrition, if you feel you have somewhat over indulged. You feel bloated, you’ve noticed there isn’t as much definition staring you back in the mirror these mornings then that’s perfectly normal, it is Christmas. The big recurring problem here is when people panic, and they begin reversing out of the Christmas binge at a rate of knots replacing turkey dinners and Milk Tray with two  salads per day. They are setting up an unsustainable ‘Diet’ lifestyle that will inevitably lead to relapses. Don’t aim to drastically reduce your food intake all at once, aim to cut out the unnecessary low  nutritional  foods that you have been enjoying and let’s balance the books again. A simple way to get back on track is.

1.5 g protein per KG bodyweight

45-65% Nutrition Carbs

20-30% Nutrition Fats

Activity Levels

If you are a few pounds heavier this week than you were in early December it’s not the end of the world, it may just be the ideal time to reset and understand that what was hard earned can often be lost if you take your eye off the ball. With club activities all but ceased until February now this is the ideal opportunity to phase your return to the levels you had been setting in 2020. Firstly, look at increasing your daily activity. A good guide is to be seeking out 10,000 steps per day. This roughly equates to an hour and half of movement over the course of 24 hours, not that demanding when we think of it. LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) activities have been found to be extremely beneficial in people seeking to drop weight in conjunction with balanced nutrition plan, LISS targets fat burn and when properly tailored into a lifestyle plan it can be extremely effective.

• Park walks

• Slow 5k jog

• Leisurely 15k cycle

Finally, when your Rest, Nutrition, Hydration and general daily activity levels are back in harness then it’s time to get serious about your training intensity levels again. Remember as a club player you are in for a long year, Championship football has been scheduled for August for everyone, the road ahead has been mapped out now it’s down to you.

For anyone seeking more content, advice or help putting a structured pathway in place for 2021, feel free to get in touch with GAA Performance Guys.

Instagram – @gaaperfromanceguys

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