A guide to returning to post coronavirus sport (or any extended lay off)
As you have probably noticed, there is currently a lot of (dis)information on social media surrounding training during this extended period away from the gym. With many a bold claim thrown around such as “get faster in 6 weeks” or my favourite so far, “the 2 week shred”... Whilst this, or to anyone with any knowledge of nutrition, physiology and conditioning is hilarious, it is also extremely unhealthy and unhelpful to athletes, especially young-athletes, when returning to their sport. Therefore, this blog and the corresponding programme is completely free, under the provision that you stop using Instagram ‘famous’ PT’s and celebrity workouts as strength and conditioning, as they are not! Most of these ‘experts’ probably think F = m x a is a postcode.
Also, I have never understood why celebrities think that because they are in decent shape (probably from working with a highly qualified professional trainer and nutritionist) that they can simply sell fitness videos to people claiming that it will help with obesity (a multifactorial condition) It’s akin to me going in for major surgery and coming out, having experienced it, believing that I now can go on television as a qualified surgeon...
Don’t confuse bodyweight training with strength training
There is no problem with bodyweight training per se, at the Lab we use bodyweight as a, monitoring tool with athletes with a low training age, at the start of our warm-ups or when athletes are in rehab, and going through a remodelling of soft tissues, for example. So therefore, whilst bodyweight training has a place, it will not provide enough stimulus and or demand which is equal to, or more importantly, above the demands of your sport; simply put, there is not enough stress on the system compared/relative to a/your sporting environment (key point – only your sport is sport specific, NOT the training). Consider these examples, landing from a jump can result in ground reaction forces up to 2 x bodyweight, with top-flight sprinting around 1.5 to 2 x bodyweight on each leg, and you seriously think air squatting your bodyweight (minus your legs) is enough to prepare or to help with any sort of performance outcome? Don’t get me started on a static plank in a sterile environment, there is simply not enough threat to the system; a caveat to this is if you are 35 stone and struggle to get out of a chair, then even breathing is a challenge to the system! However, if you are 35 stone and can’t stand up then you clearly aren’t an athlete (apologies Sumo guys!) and this blog isn’t for you, therefore here is a link to our previous nutrition blog. Many sports are chaotic in nature and serves as a challenge for the body, therefore training should at the very least prepare us for this environment, if anything, training should be more challenging than the sport, so that when you play the sport it’s not ‘overloading’ the system, and you have a reserve and feel invincible.. now try and tell me that those 100 air squats and 2-minute planks are enough (unless you play darts!).
Now I know what you’re thinking, isn’t following the body by; insert Z list celebrity name here ___________ just the same as following an S&C programme? I do lots of stuff in it that makes me tired, isn’t that making me ‘fitter’? Or another big lockdown favourite, if I run 5km 3 times a week and tag my friends, I’ll be ready for when sport resumes (even if you’re reading this as a 5km runner, I’d still debate this, as the evidence is clear around developing other physical qualities i.e. different strength training protocols, to drive adaptations to enhance running economy). There is a reason why strength & conditioning is called strength & conditioning, it is because the scientific evidence on which athletic performance is based, is focused on A: strength and B: you’ve guessed it.....conditioning! If you are not doing both then in essence you are not working towards becoming a developed athlete, as part of a well-rounded long term athletic development (LTAD) plan.
The challenge we have at the moment is that we lack the tools (external load) for which to do the job (get stronger or maintain strength helping to drive other physical qualities) this then puts us in a quandary and could be why so many turn to online workouts, I get it, I understand, I sympathise even, but this does not mean it is the way to go. Athletic qualities such as speed, power and plyometric ability will naturally start to regress due to the lack of skill training and general strength training, this will happen, and we can’t stop it! We can slow this process down however, with some simple measures. By practicing a certain skill, you will still get some return, but by doing nothing i.e. no strength or speed training, these attributes will fall off a cliff and it’s a long road back to the top again. Understanding regression is just as complicated as progression, we do not know how quickly we may lose specific physical qualities or in what order, but if we follow a general well-rounded programme it seems plausible that we may have some positive effect!!
Now remember, this programme will not make you faster or jump higher, as that would contradict the massive amount of evidence surrounding strength training as a foundation, and the maintenance of strength levels. Knowing exactly what will happen post lockdown is incredibly difficult to gauge as we have not found ourselves in this situation before therefore, we have no evidence as to what may happen as it hasn’t previously happened. No studies have been performed so there are no definitive answers however, and this is not to imply cause and effect as injury is multifactorial, after the NFL lockout of 2011 there was a reduced pre-season due to limited time available before the start of the season. This post lockout season resulted in a sharp increase in Achilles tendon injuries compared to the previous 5 seasons (Myer et al., 2011). Now, this could simply be down to chance, but it could also be down to a lack of physical preparation during the lockout and also a ramped-up loading pre-season which, the likelihood is, a lot of you are going to face once sport resumes. Do you or your team want to take that risk?
So, in conclusion the message is simple, buy my best ever coronavirus 1-week shred, bodyweight transformation programme for the reduced price of £99.99, valid until midnight tonight using code BSbafflesbrains...... Or I could just say thank you for reading, the sign up for the above-average programme is here and, please remember the other things you should be doing during this difficult time, in fact any time, drink water, move around a fair bit, sleep well and consume high quality nutrition.
Myer, G. D., Faigenbaum, A. D., Cherny, C. E., Heidt, R. S., & Hewett, T. E. (2011). Did the NFL Lockout Expose the Achilles Heel of Competitive Sports? Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 41(10), 702–705. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2011.0107