We strongly disagree with use of machine weights for GAA players! The carry over of one doing machine weights to real life is very slim. The muscle you have gained is pointless! In a match when will one be in that horrible leg extension/press position?When taking a shoulder in football it is your legs that resist the forces that make one want to fall over. Free weight exercises such as the hex bar deadlift work the muscles that stabilise your body. They will keep one standing. They also work more muscles than machines, like the squat works over 300 muscles in the body.
Push Vs Pull
Now that we are convinced free weights are essential for a GAA player we must look at a program that has the correct ratio of push to pull exercises. A push exercise example is the bench press, and squat. A pull example is a pull up and an RDL. An incorrect ratio of push to pull exercises causes athletes to break down. A player that works his chest and doesn’t work his back will have over development of chest muscles leading to injuries such as impingement in the shoulder joint. I strongly advise that one completes pull exercises such as pull ups and rows in their program.
Hamstring injuries are the most common injury in GAA. I reiterate that an incorrect ratio of push to pull exercises is the main problem. Many people unknowingly just work the quads muscles and do not work the hamstring muscle group. This leads to muscle imbalance between the quads and hamstrings causing hamstring tears and strains. It is vital that one completes RDLs and Nordic Curls.
Single leg exercises
Single leg strength dramatically reduces ones chances of a dreaded ACL injury and more. How many legs do you run on at a time? One! Single leg squats work those stabilising muscles that are needed to keep those knees stable when under pressure. ACL injuries are every GAA players worst nightmare. Watch our single leg exercise video and follow our progressions for good single leg strength.
Our program follows the Bompa periodization format of hypertrophy, strength, power and then maintenance.
Hypertrophy: Hypertrophy adapts the muscles and tendons for strength training. It is preparing the body for heavy lifting. It adds bulk to the athlete. If one skips hypertrophy then the athlete does not have enough muscle built up, therefore there is no muscle to make stronger in the strength phase.
Strength: Strength training is low reps for a reason. Its aim is to help that bulk put on to become strong! The low reps help you lift more weight. The long rest interval helps you to recover to allow you lift at max again.
Power: The power phase helps those slow reps in the strength phase to become explosive. In field sport an athlete must have explosive strength to fight off opponents.
Analogy: During hypertrophy an athlete can push a small player several times but can not push a big player. After strength phase one can push that big player. After the power phase one can push that big player explosively!
Never Give up. Keep Moving Forward.
Mike Boyle has a theory:
Lower spine: stability
Middle spine: mobility
Upper spine: stability
Most athletes bodies do not work like this. It can be due to previous injury or the effects of what you do each day. If for example you have poor ankle mobility then another part of your body compensates in this instance it can be your knees. Unstable knees could cause ligament damage.
Poor ankle mobility is the primary reason for athletes not being able to squat correctly. You should be able to get your knees past your toes. The myth of don’t let your knees go past your toes has been rubbished. For a functional squat one must allow his knees go past his toes.
T Spine Rotations
The T spine is the middle part of your back and according to Boyle it must be mobile. You will be hard pressed to find somebody with good t-spine mobility. Stay out of Cervical and lumbar areas!
These do almost everything, they stretch your pecs and internal rotators and they activate your lower traps, rhomboids and external rotators. Most of us have weak lower traps because they are not activated!
This is huge! Glute activation in most athletes is poor. A strong glute medius prevents knees from falling in during exercise. Poor glute activation causes hamstrings to do the work of the glute. This causes further strains and tears in hamstrings. Before every gym session and training we use mini bands to strengthen the glutes. We understand that most do not have these therefore frog pumps are a bodyweight alternative. Poor glute activation and strength causes numerous injuries.
Most people have poor lat flexibility. To allow one to do front squats and Olympic lifts one must have good lat flexibility.
The shoulder joint must have good mobility! Most people do not have good shoulder mobility due to tight pecs and lats. This stretches the pecs and lats and increases the mobility of the shoulder.
An athlete either has poor ankle mobility or poor flexibility in their calves. Both of these are reasons why people struggle to squat right.
Hip Internal/External Rotation
This works on the mobility of the hip. It will help with a greater range of motion (ROM) in the hip and allow for a greater squat depth.