Of all the sports out there, football ranks high among the toughest, requiring solid determination, discipline, and consistency, and like all competitive activities, a strong desire to perform. High performance comes through constant improvement, a full-time mind-set; amazing athletes are seldom formed without sacrifice and sweat.
Physically, it’s torturous, and the constant grind of running, throwing, hitting, and tackling takes an enormous toll out of even the strongest players. Being successful means being able to fight your way through a game, then bounce back and do it again, day in and day out. Mental and physical preparation, and maintenance are at once indispensable.
For many non-professional players, it’s easy to succumb to the ever-present pull to kick back and relax after a tough season. These are the ones who exercise once in a while in an attempt to maintain their physique, or those who only realize during pre-season how out of shape they are. Pros on the other hand, faced with the ever present possibility of being traded or benched, need to be firing on all cylinders, all the time. The same concept holds true for anyone focused on excellence. To be the best, you need to be training smart at every turn. Keep your eyes on the goal and push, push, push.
Off-season presents an incredible opportunity to tune your engine and reinforce your armor. It’s a great time to improve your conditioning, get your body ready for the intense training of pre-season, and most importantly, cut the risk of injuries by managing muscle imbalances caused by repetitive in-season movement.
One thing you want to watch out for in off-season training is burn-out from overwork and pushing too hard. While you should be doing body-work, you absolutely should not be competing – just like a machine, your body needs downtime to repair itself. If you keep going at 100% strength, you’ll quickly acquire over-use injuries. Instead, use the time to focus on technical skills with a much lower volume and intensity than you would normally.
It’s a good idea to find a gym or fitness centre that has a program in place specifically focused on off-season football. They can advise you on the best routine to follow and ensure you’re using the right form. If you’re based in Edmonton, you’re in luck. Anytime Fitness is running a camp this month, together with 41 Fitness. Click here for more information on registering.
Whether or not you decide to join a camp or work with a gym, the general basis for off-season work should focus on improving both overall strength, and aerobic/anaerobic endurance. To throw further and hit harder, you need to build your general strength. Using sandbags, resistance bands, and your own bodyweight, you should concentrate on all-around techniques combining movements like pulling, pushing, and squatting.
On the other hand, to run faster and further, and to ensure your body continues to deliver energy even at the very end of a difficult game, your cardiovascular system needs to be challenged again and again. This can easily be accomplished via long distance cycling or running, alternating in speed and inclines. For flavour, and a boost to stability, you can also try running in either sand or shallow water. Ultimately, aerobic activities will help infuse your blood with oxygen, fostering recovery, the best opportunity for your body to clean up and rebuild.
Finally, you’ll also want to touch on your anaerobic fitness. This is what delivers instant, explosive bursts of power, so important to escape a blindside hit, or propel yourself to a touchdown. To build anaerobic power, you need ball-to-the-wall, near max heartrate training for super short bouts – between 5 and 50 seconds, followed by a long resting period. Tack these onto the end of your running or biking circuits.
I invite you to come in and speak with one of our expert trainers. We’ll be more than happy to either register you into the football camp, or get you started on a personal program.
About the Author
Matthew Korobanik is a partner of multiple Anytime Fitness franchises in Edmonton. For more information, check out http://www.healthyedmonton.com
Anytime Fitness has two locations for your convenience: Old Strathcona (10469-80 Ave.) and Kingsway (10521 Kingsway Ave.)