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Isolation: A Change of Perspective

So, we’re nearly at the end of 3 weeks in isolation and everyone has settled into somewhat of a routine and finally come to terms with a lack of combat action. Rather than sitting around dwelling on what we can’t do let’s change the perspective and focus on what we can!

This current situation gives us a little insight into what sports are like that train and compete around seasonal windows. The in season is spent focusing primarily on the sport itself and the off season is spent building general physical qualities in order to facilitate improvements on return to action. For those who don’t consider themselves competitors, think about this as summer training before the harder work begins in the winter.

By no fault of our own this virus has forced us all into an “off season” period and it has made it difficult to make specific recommendations as everyone has varying access to equipment. However, this is also a blessing in disguise as it gives us the opportunity to be very general in our approach but still ensure that this period of isolation gives us a running start once we return to the mats.

In a usual “off season” period we would primarily focus on three things:

1. Allow recovery from previous harder training phases

2. Improve general physical qualities that will carry over into more specific work (energy system development, movement efficiency, strength endurance, joint integrity etc)

3. Build overall work capacity to facilitate higher volumes and intensities of sport specific training

It’s worth mentioning that just because we take a general approach, does not mean we can forgo the laws of training. Principles of overload, specificity, volume management, progression and recovery still apply. I should also add that once we return to the mat this not an excuse to let additional training fall to waste, the current climate has given us an opportunity to focus on some trainable qualities that should be used and built upon on return to play.

Unless you have an extensive home gym set up, its fairly safe to assume that everyone will be following similar training/exercise patterns, so instead of giving you a massive explanation of training principles and how to implement them for most of you to either not read or choose to ignore, I thought I would just fill this article with general musings surrounding further development during this phase of isolation.

- Off season or summer training will quiet often be low intensity and higher volume, due to the lack of sport specific work we can push the boat out a little when it comes to durations, volume (sets &reps) and frequency.

- Think of this as a chance to build your base. Use this time to improve your aerobic conditioning and overall work capacity. Running, cycling, skipping etc.

- Use alternative methods to develop strength! Be creative but remember to pick methods that you can develop over time. Great examples of this would be gymnastic movements, kettlebells, and body weight training. Don’t be afraid to throw in some tempos either!

- Unlock your inner strongman! Loaded carries are one of the best methods of improving overall work capacity. Get creative with equipment ideas in order to push, pull, drag and carry. (Think Rocky 4)

- Run some hills – Hills can be a great tool for developing the alactic energy system (short, sharp bursts)

- Invest some time into developing movement patterns, both in a conventional (squatting, hinging etc) and non-conventional (bear crawls, handstands etc).

- Rehab/Mobility work – you know you should do more of it, well now is the time to correct those issues.

This isolation certainly isn’t optimal, and for a lot of people it’s probably not enjoyable either. But I will repeat, rather than focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what you can!

Pick 3 variables you wish to work on during this time off, set yourself a weekly schedule and repeat them twice a week, starting simple and building difficulty as the weeks go on! The fortune of a general preparation phase is it doesn’t have to be complicated to ensure progress. A lot of people will try and tell you that “this is the best way of doing things” but honestly, nobody got really strong swinging a 10kg kettlebell and you certainly won’t get better at Jiu Jitsu via zoom! But that also doesn’t mean you can’t come out of isolation and back on to the mats better prepared than you were before!

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