Before you head to the gym, read up on this list of do’s and don’ts.
Are you aiming to build muscle, get stronger, get more powerful or just maintain general strength and power? Depending on your goal, your programme will vary.
Always warm-up with the actual session in mind
As part of a general start to the warm-up but you must complete exercises similar to those you are going to use in the session. You must also mobilise any tight joints that you have with stretching exercises (preferably dynamic stretches) and you must rehearse the lifts by gradually adding more load. Plan a minimum of 10 minutes warm-up to be ready for your routine.
When strength and power is the goal
Complete the strength and power exercises at the beginning of the routine. Don’t leave them to the middle or end of the session when fatigue has set in.
Get adequate rest
Ensure that you take the prescribed rest between sets and exercises when strength and power is the goal. Too many athletes and players rush or reduce recovery time in between sets and exercises in the mistaken belief that they are working hard. But this will result in them not being able to produce similar or greater power outputs in the next set thereby not getting the optimal benefits.
Focus more on the workouts
This is important if you are to be time efficient. Too often players go to the gym, hang about at the start the session, get caught up in idle chat and lose the key focus of their programme. Conversation can take place later over a recovery drink after the session if it is that important.
Always stretch after a workout
This is just as important following a gym routine as it is after a pitch session. Remember to stretch out those muscles that have been identified as tight during your functional screen. Always ensure that you refuel and rehydrate immediately following the session
The rest interval between sets and exercises:
The rest interval is an often forgotten and ignored training variable. If you ignore this and speed up the rest interval you do so at your peril. If you need to be occupied during what may seem a long rest interval between sets and exercises in the gym then complete a core stability exercise. This is now effective use of the time spent in the gym.
For maximum strength: Take at least two minutes between sets and up to five minutes in some situations.
For power: When maximum power is the goal ensure that you take at least three minutes between sets and exercises. Rest intervals of up to five minutes are also common for very large lifts such as explosive squats and the Olympic lifts.
For muscle hypertrophy (muscle mass gain): Take between 30 seconds for some exercises and up to 90 seconds for others.
Always follow a plan.
Best if this is put together in conjunction with a knowledgeable and qualified fitness coach. Your plan should be well-balanced and shaped into what we call a ‘Periodised’ programme with set phases for emphasising a particular goal.
Know what the goal of the programme is.
Do Not copy another programme
This is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes for any player. What suits the championship winning team will most likely not suit you. Copying a gym-based programme that has worked for some one else may lead to poor results. Also, the current habit of getting programmes from the Internet is fraught with similar problems.
Do Not continue a workout if you injure yourself
You may notice a slight strain for one reason or another during a workout; get ice and compression straight away and attend to it. Seek the help of a physio as the next step in managing the injury.
Do Not start a programme without completing what we call a period of ‘Anatomical Adaptation’
By this we mean getting the body ready to train. Too many players launch themselves into a high intensity resistance training routine without properly setting the base or foundation for this type of work.
Do Not train when you know you are fatigued
Especially when strength and power is the goal. Strength and power gains can only occur when you are fresh and recovered for all other training.
Do Not fall into the trap of overwork
Take an unload week every 4-6 weeks. By taking an unload week (a week with reduced volume of training) you will be ensuring that any residual fatigue is minimised and this unload week will freshen you up for the next phase of training in the gym.
Do Not be afraid to strength train
A properly devised strength and power training routine based in the gym will actually make you more mobile (and certainly not inflexible), it will help make you faster, stronger and more powerful — it is a fact!
The author is Director of Marketing, Snap Fitness.