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    How to train individually during the pandemic?

    Jacek Piegza

    Conditioning Coach

    The period of obligatory quarantine caused by the COVID-19 virus is problematic for athletes of all disciplines. With football, the onset of the pandemic coincided with the beginning of spring matches. After a winter period filled with hard work, we saw the first few matches and expected the players to be in top shape. The coronavirus, however, turned everything upside down. All European leagues have been suspended, clubs called off training sessions and players are only allowed to train individually. For them, this situation is particularly difficult. Even though it's impossible to predict how long this forced isolation period is going to last, they are still expected to stay in shape. What's the best way to utilize this time so that you can be well prepared for league resumption? Here we present several workout tips that should help you.

    How to take care of your fitness during the quarantine?

    Before we dive into detailed workout planning, let's start with a quick analysis of the current status. Let's consider what we have at our disposal and use it to determine our training goals.

    1. Limitations in individual training:

    • We don't have access to gyms, fitness clubs, swimming pools and other sports facilities. In the current situation, such places are particularly dangerous when it comes to spreading the virus; high concentration of people in humid rooms is a perfect setting for droplet transmission.
    • Strength workout is done at home, which means we are limited in terms of equipment.
    • We need to limit discipline-specific training as the only possible solutions are individual or two-people workout.

    2. Advantages of individual training:

    • We can use this period to improve our weak areas and work on time-consuming elements that we normally don't have the time for: hypoxic training, running technique, muscle hypertrophy, stretching, movement pattern exercises.
    • The absence of matches and training sessions gives us space to increase the volume of aerobic speed training without the risk of injury or decreased match fitness.

    How fast do we lose our shape?

    Based on numerous studies on professional athletes, sports periodization expert dr. Vladimir Issurin defined the retention time of the adaptation of particular motor skills As shown in the table below, the aspect we lose the most quickly is Speed – Power (only after 5 days), then speed endurance and anaerobic/glycolytic endurance (18 days); the aspects to decrease the most slowly are strength and aerobic endurance (30 days)

    Conclusions:

    • If we want to maintain the fitness we had at the end of the preparation period, the first thing to do is speed training, power, jumping – repeat this at least every 5 days
    • Anaerobic training can be emphasized less often, which means that it will be less of a priority
    • Even though it will take a month for aerobic endurance and strength to decrease, it is worth dedicating a significant amount of time to these aspects.

    HOW TO PLAN INDIVIDUAL TRAINING?

    1. Mobility, stability prevention, self massage exercises

    Popular mobility exercises are a great training method to use in this period. If we want to observe significant progress, we should perform them at home daily or even twice a day if possible.

    The most problematic mobility limitations in football players are usually related to:

    • Hips – straightening, internal and external rotation
    • Ankle joints
    • Thoracic spine with shoulder girdle

    a) Mobility – example exercises:

    b) Stability – example exercises:

    c) Stretching – example exercises:

    2. Strength workout

    Optimally – the entire body, but it's difficult to train upper body parts without proper equipment, especially adduction (you can use PowerBand or calisthenics parks) For this reason, we are going to focus on lower body parts.

    Lower body workout - example exercises:


    3. Movement training:

    If we have access to a large room – that's great. If not, use playgrounds, football pitches, parks and forests.

    As you already know, speed and power start to decrease only after 5 days! That is why this workout should be emphasized at least twice a week. A perfect addition to your power-speed training is a combination of running technique/direction changes + jumps + straight line acceleration / acceleration with changing directions It's recommended to have a 10-minute warm-up and 5-minute activation beforehand.

    Training A – Straight line movement:


    Training B – Multidirectional movement:

    4. Strength workout

    This a very important part of a training plan and it can be performed in many ways. Keeping in mind that you may have different access to monitoring equipment (and also be forced to work out at home), this part will be divided into 3 sections.

    4.1. Training without a GPS and heart rate monitor

    If you don't have access to monitoring equipment, you can use several methods to optimize your training.

    a) Long training in aerobic zone:

    when it comes to football players, I recommend very long running in order to extend the adaptation window: 45-120 minutes; slow and calm pace will greatly help to develop your aerobic endurance, which in turn will improve your heart function, utilization of fatty acids, body regeneration, exercise tolerance.

    Workout duration:

    Extend it incrementally, starting with 15 minutes of warm up and 45 of continuous run; increase it with every week by about 10%.

    I recommend amortized footwear and soft surface (grass, ground etc.)

    b) Fartlek – interval training:

    Usually shorter than the previous form of training. In this type of running, you can increase the running speed or switch to upward running at any moment. When performed correctly, it fantastically simulates running during a match where everything varies greatly.

    Training duration:

    30-60 minutes – start with 15 minutes of warm up and 30 of minutes of Fartlek

    c) Special endurance:

    As we already know, anaerobic systems lose adaptation after 14-18 days, which is why we should include at least a single unit of this type in 10-14 days.

    My proposal for anaerobic training:

    • duration of each repetition: 20-40
    • 3 reps per set
    • 2-4 sets
    • Rest between reps: 1-3 minutes
    • Rest between sets: 6-10 minutes
    • Pace: MAXIMUM

    It's best to set a distance for a given time and try to repeat it in each rep, e.g. 150 meters in 30 seconds and so on.

    4.2. Training with a GPS tracker:

    If you've been using a GPS tracker, you can easily program a training by using a few training indicators

    I chose the following parameters:

    • TD – total distance
    • PL – training load
    • RZ - time in the red zone (above 84% of maximum heart rate)

    As well as running speed zones:

    • 0-10 km/h
    • 10-15 km/h
    • 15-20km/h
    • 20-25km/h
    • 25 km/h

    How to use your existing data for establishing training goals?

    You can use weekly statistics to establish your training plan. For instance, if you ran 30 km and 300 meters in the 20-25km/h speed zone, this is going to be your goal.

    You can also use daily statistics. For example, if your Tuesday statistics were as follows:

    • TD –8.4 km
    • PL – 13421.7
    • RZ - 23 minutes

    Speed zones:

    • 0-10 km/h – 4909m
    • 10-15 km/h – 1618m
    • 15-20km/h – 547 m
    • 20-25km/h – 558.3 m
    • 25 km/h – 157.7 m

    You should try to reach these values.

    Follow this for the subsequent days of the week – remember to always compare Monday with the previous Monday, Tuesday with the previous Tuesday and so on.

    What should it look like in practice?

    Let's focus on the 20-25 km/h zone. A football pitch has a length of 100m, which means that in order to reach this speed we need to cover this distance in 14-17 seconds. If we do 6 such sprints with a 30-60 second rest, we will reach the training goal. When it comes to long-distance running, e.g. at a speed of 10-12 km/h – the track around the pitch is 300m long, which means that we need to run 1:30 – 1:48 etc.

    4.3 Training at home

    If the current situation escalates to a point where we are not able to go out, we will be left with two options:

    A – skipping, cycling, rowing and using any other equipment we have at home.

    B – circuit training, for example

    Choose 5 demanding exercises: jumps, burpees, skipping in place, jump squats, lunges

    Start with 20 sec workout/40 sec rest, then move to 30/30 and finally 40/20.

    At first, you can do 2x8 minutes of this exercise and gradually increase training intensity.

    As you can see, this quarantine period can be treated as a challenge – whoever adapts to the new conditions more quickly, wins. By following the above training principles you can return to the game in the same or even better shape – depending on your fitness before and the effort you put in throughout this difficult period.

    Jacek Piegza

    Conditioning Coach

    Conditioning coach at KGHM Zagłębie football club.

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