Each strength and conditioning coach Melbourne and all passionate athletes know that lower body strength training and power training are integral components of most athletic training programs, especially in AFL football.
Studies from game motion analyses indicate that AFL football is an intermittent team sport requiring high-intensity and low-intensity activities. To perform at an elite level for the AFL, one needs high aerobic endurance, speed, strength, power, and agility. AFL is played on extensive grounds; therefore, players need to possess the qualities mentioned earlier.
Strength training involves performing physical exercises designed to improve strength and endurance. It sometimes goes by the names resistance training, progressive resistance training, or weight training. Strength is a measure of how much force you can exert on physical objects or when doing a particular activity, while endurance is the ability to exercise a maximum amount of power for a certain period.
The resistance comes from your body or elasticized bands, free weights, or specialized weight machines in resistance training. Strength training is any exercise that involves exerting your muscles to work against such resistance.
AFL resistance training is not only instrumental in AFL football; it is also a core component of general health and fitness for everyone. It contributes to overall athletic development by increasing bone and muscle mass and density, improving metabolism and cardiac function.
Athletes can choose to focus on specific muscle groups depending on the requirements of their sport. In AFL, lower body strength training may be more critical than AFL upper body strength due to the high intensity running and kicking. Joint lower body strength training exercises include squats, lunges, deadlifts, step-ups, and others. The key to strength training is repetition and consistency. According to physiology, when a muscle is repeatedly subjected to resistance or a load, over time, it can adapt and grow via hypertrophy (increase in muscle fiber size).
Power training, as its name suggests, aims to increase power. In physics, power is the product of force and velocity. If you translate that to sports science terms, power is hence the product of strength and speed. Optimal power development is a reflection of how you can quickly exert force to produce the desired action. Imagine playing on the football field; it’s almost halftime, and you acquire possession of the ball. You are then faced with the decision to dispose of the ball either through kicking or handballing. You have enough strength to kick the ball, that’s a given, but it’s power, not just strength, that will allow you to dispose of the ball before the enemy team gets to you.
There are various forms of power training that you can use singularly or in combination. These include plyometrics, ballistics training, complex training, contrast loading, explosive power lifts, gymnastics, sprinting, and many others.
Some trainees make the mistake of neglecting power training as they can believe that strength is everything. This is not true. In competitive sports like AFL football, strength and endurance keep you in the game, but power, speed, and agility earn you points.
How is power training significant in AFL football training? Professional AFL players need to perform explosive bursts throughout a typical game, such as sprinting, jumping, kicking, pace changing, and tackling. Speed is essential in football as required in direction and acceleration change. Thus, obtaining maximum muscle strength for explosive power requires such training power exercises.
The abovementioned significance of power training for athletic exercise regimens is backed up by sports medicine. When subjected to such activity, the physiologic adaptations include a higher firing frequency of neurons in muscle and more robust activation of high threshold motor units. There are three types of muscle fibers: type 1 slow-twitch fibers, type 2a fast-twitch oxidative fibers, and type 2b fast-twitch oxidative fibers. Muscles with slow-twitch fibers can contract for an extended period and have high endurance but slow firing. These kinds of muscle fibers are suitable for marathoners. However, fast-twitch fibers have more rapid firing and can provide short bursts of speed, which a footballer needs. Studies have shown that power training can shift your muscle fiber type into more fast-twitch fibers.
Strength and speed are two of the most essential S’s in sports training. In AFL football and other contact team sports, you need strength and power to help you play and score! With only strength, you can keep running around the field until the game ends, but with power, you can perform game-changing moves that are reflective of an elite player.
Here in Prepare like a Pro, we understand the importance of choosing the best exercises to maximize your athletic training. We offer individualised training packages for #afl and #aflw, private coaching sessions, online training programmes, and football clubs, each prepared to train you according to AFL standards. Our goal is to boost your training, take your lifestyle to the elite level and help you reach your potential.