PART 1 - Where are you?
So we have recovered from last season, built a base, some endurance and some muscle. Now it is the time to build true strength.
What is Force Development?
What we are doing here is developing Force. By Force I mean your body's ability to push itself away from the ground. I think we would all agree an ability to push off the ground forcefully and quickly will enhance Athleticism. In Gaelic Games you will accelerate and decelerate dozens and even hundreds of times. Every time you do that you apply force to the ground. It makes sense to develop this skill.
To build real strength, at least after a couple of years S&C experience, you have to lift heavier than 85% of your 1 Rep Max. Your 1 Rep Max is generally a predicted score based on you maxing out on a lighter weight less than 10 reps. As in you fail somewhere below 10. A formula is then used to project what you could lift just the once, which of course is your absolute maximum in any one particular movement.
How to train?
When building strength it is best practice to keep it simple and use a small number of lifts. Deadlift, Bench Press, a Squat variation and Chin ups are the 4 most common exercises used to determine your overall Max strength. It is still fine to supplement more exercises around these 4 movements, but using lighter weights and high volume is advisable. Heavy lifting is fatiguing.
Of course it goes without saying that technique being very good is a prerequisite for heavy weight lifting. And heavy means heavy for you, nobody else. If you are new to lifting and training with more experienced athletes you have to ignore what they are lifting. Ego is just as big a reason for injury as not warming up.
How long and how often?
You will have to give this 4 solid weeks minimum. Considering with most GAA seasons this means concurrent training (Football/running/hurling etc. with strength training), I would suggest 2 days a week is ideal. The benefits of a 3rd have been shown to not really be of huge benefits to gaining strength.
Again “Strength” can mean different things to different athletes at different times of their career. Or at least the development of it. Different athletes develop at different paces as well. However there is significant evidence and anecdotal experience available to me to let “Newbie” lifters to continue to lift High Rep-Low weight. I regularly use the Yessis 1x20 method for young/new athletes, at least in a private or 1-2-1 setting. Sometimes that works well with teams as well, sometimes not so well. Every situation is different.
How to train different levels?
At a very basic level this could be a process for building strength thru different stages of progression;
Each of these areas deserve articles on their own, so we will only touch on them.