At Fitness First I trained some of the injured first team players until the end of the 2008-2009 season, assisting them with strength and conditioning. To improve explosive power, acceleration and stability I included power squats and sumo dead-lifts within the workouts. I wanted to engage the adductors, as well as the quads, hamstrings, glutes and lower back, to maximize a potential increase in leg and core strength. I used single leg presses, single leg curls and extensions, to strengthen the legs independently, as this would complement the power squats and would help to promote increased and equal strength when pushing off one leg at speed. I wanted to ensure that the quads and hamstrings were strong to increase acceleration while reducing the risk of injury to the acl’s, that could occur through fast pivoting.
Strength training centred around 5 sets of 5, to failure, with the intention of changing the number of reps and sets every 3 weeks, e.g. 6 sets of 4, 8 sets of 3, 10 sets of 2 and single rep max’s, to ensure continued development. 6-8 week strength gain programmes could also be written using a weekly decreasing number of reps. Some players wanted to train for size so 3-5 sets of 8-10, to failure, were used. I linked various exercises into super, tri or quad sets, to increase fitness, while maintaining the correct rest periods. Again, I would change the number of sets and reps and exercises, every 3 weeks from 3x8 to 5x5, as a consistent variation in training methods would help to secure an increase in strength and hypertrophy, as well as maintaining interest and focus.
Core workouts included various free body and free weight abdominal and stability exercises, again to assist with on the ball strength and balance.
Upper body routines used mainly free weights to exercise the chest, back, shoulders, traps and arms in order to correct any left or right side imbalance and to promote strong all over body conditioning. This would assist in repelling strong challenges in order to maintain possession of the ball. For fitness and coordination I held focus pads for the players and taught them various strikes. This not only helped to increase their levels of fitness, motor skills and balance, but it also provided an outlet for aggression and was a useful break from conventional training.