Sunday, 21 December 2014

Strength and Conditioning Article from Mal Fitzgerald

Hey Guys,

Here is our monthly S&C article by our resident Guru Mal. Enjoy!

I had something completely different to write up for this article (well, in my head at least) – but over the last couple of weeks I have had messages and emails that have all pretty much been on the same issue – Christmas!  Unfortunately, none of them were asking me what I wanted for Christmas (now there is a surprise) but rather how they cope with Christmas interfering with their training.

At this point I can feel the readership splitting, with one half saying ‘Seriously’; with the other half saying ‘Yeah, makes sense’. 

Now, when I write an annual plan for an athlete I always plot in their holidays and breaks so that I know what I need to do to work around them.  The majority of people I work with never have any competitions or events during the Christmas break, so as long as they don’t have something booked in around this period - I don’t schedule any training in, which for some could be about two weeks off (obviously if they do have a match or competition, then the story changes).

I can hear the gasps of horror already while some people are reading this – ‘What…no training for two weeks!!’.  (I know, I should be struck off for making such outlandish statements) Guess what – that is exactly what a lot of the athletes say too! 

Every year…same thing.  Even though they have seen the plan; even though they know what they are working towards and when they need to peak (which I will cover in a future article) some of them still freak out at NOT training (although I suspect it also has something to do with not having an excuse to escape the in-laws).  Now, whilst I may not plan anything in, a lot of people do fit in training sessions during Christmas and that’s fine, if it is what they want to do.  The important thing is that they reign back on the volume and intensity and have a BREAK.  There, I said it! If you are training consistently – if you have a plan – if you have set goals about what you are aiming for – then take the break.  Nick Grantham (a really top level S&C Coach, you should check out his blog) once explained it very simply. 

Think of your training like a bank account.  Every training session is a deposit into that account.  Throughout the year you are paying in, paying in, paying in.  Every now and again, you can make a withdrawal – you take something back.  This is your break.  Think of it like a planned cheat meal in your nutritional plan. 

The summer holiday in Ibiza; withdrawal.  The weekend at the races with your mates; withdrawl.  Even taking a break due to injury is a withdrawal from your account.  I had major surgery on my shoulder last year.  It took months before I could train again.  It is a terrible feeling being in a gym training other people when you can’t do anything. When I did start training again, it didn’t take long before I made progress to get back to where I (almost) was.  I have been paying into my account for years and because of that, I didn’t fall into the RED.

So as long as you are consistent, making regular payments into your account – every now and again you can take something back and not have to pack your backs from the resulting guilt trip.  You are not going to lose your ‘GAINZ’.  You not suddenly going to develop lungs like small party balloons and that fine chiselled physique is not going suddenly look like Christian Bale in the Machinist.

The other side of this is of course is that you can’t take out more than you have put in.  I do know people that are not consistent in their training or nutrition and are constantly ‘overdrawn’.  A very small percentage of people can perform for a period of time based on good genetics; but in the long game – a poor lifestyle will crush great genetics every time.  

For the rest of you hard working, dedicated people – take something back and have a really good Christmas and look forward to a great New Year.

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