Lifting before games???? Are you crazy???
This is what most of the strength coaches hear when they try to get their athletes for the first time in the weight room on a game day.
But why a lot of S&C coaches believe ( I am definitely one of those) that a quick lift on game days can enhance the performance of their athletes?
With very long professional seasons we need to find the time to keep working on strength, even when our schedule gets extremely busy, playing more than 2 matches a week, traveling from town to town, often from country to country.
Back in the days a lot of athletes used to work on Strength just during the off-season, almost quitting it during the competitive phase.
Fortunately those days are long gone!
Today’s challenge is to squeeze the right amount of weight lifting sessions into the athletes’ busy schedule.
A lot of different approaches can be used, from microdosing to considering the Residual Training Effect, trying to hit different types of strength training within the same microcycle.
Professional athletes experience huge volume of work and stress coming from games, practices, travels, etc.
Keeping this in mind all the S&C coaches should seek for the MINIMUM EFFECTIVE DOSE, the minimum amount of stimulus that produces the desired response.
This is exactly one of the reasons why I am a strong advocate of GAME DAY WORKOUTS.
Would you rather squeeze all the load on a single day ( maybe also having the chance to give a day off the day after a game) or spread it over two days, asking your athlete to show up the day after a game, sore, sleepy and occasionally with a bad mood after a loss, to get a workout in?
Easy answer right?!
But let’s see which are the benefits of this methodology.
1. Pre Warm-up. One of the best things about using some resistance is that it gets the muscles moving and firing. Heavier resistance recruits greater motor units and gets them turned on and functioning.
2. Flexibility. Working through the full range of motion gets joints fully moving and warmed up and stretches muscle fibers and tendons. This should always be the case from any strength training workout, but it’s especially important and beneficial on game-days.
3. Central Nervous System. Moving some form of resistance activates the central nervous system and gets the brain and nerves functioning together, preparing them for the high demands of competition later in the day. The neural signals from the brain ignite the muscles to function faster and more efficiently.
4. MENTAL ASPECT. Most of the athletes that work out on game day report to FEEL GREAT. They feel more energized and pumped up. They actually feel stronger and more confident, knowing they have done something more than their opponent in order to win that game.
5. T:C Ratio. A game day workout has shown to attenuated the decline of salivary testosterone concentrations which because of the link between testosterone levels and athletic performance may be associated with improvements in performance.
6. NO DOMS during the game! According to the American College of Sports Medicine, DOMS symptoms typically occur up at least 12 to 24 hours after a workout. The pain tends to peak about one to three days after your workout, and then should ease up after that.
7. Extra Volume and Intensity. Game day workouts can provide extra volume and intensity for developing athletes and extra nervous system awakening for more experienced athletes.
So game-day workouts are beneficial for all my athletes???
Of course not!
If your athletes are not accustomed to lifting prior to a game, then lifting is definetly a bad idea.
If your athlete is not familiar with the exercises and the intensities you are prescribing, then lifting is definitely a bad idea.
If your athlete doesn’t want to lift on game days, the lifting is definitely a bad idea.
Moreover several studies have highlighted that due to the individual nature of the PAP response athletes can be classified as either positive responders (performance is enhanced postconditioning activity), negative responders (performance is impaired post-conditioning activity), nonresponders (performance is neither enhanced nor impaired) or inconsistent responders (subsequent performances are both enhanced and impaired).
This is something that we should always keep in mind when asking our athletes to lift before a match.
These are some of the guidelines that I use with my athletes:
Leave it optional
No new exercises (Keep it simple)
Short sessions (15'-20')
6-7 exercises in a circuit fashion (alternating UP-LB-CORE)
5-6 reps, 2-3 sets
Focus on execution and velocity
15’ of work, 2-3 times a week will add up and eventually pay off in the long run!!!