Extra Time

The Muscle – Sean Robinson explains why you must understand periodisation

OFF-season should be well underway for all club players. This time should be used to recharge both mentally and physically for the season ahead.

With the current restrictions in place, you might not be able to enjoy the off-season as much as you would like. That being said, now is the time for you start planning for the months ahead.

Using a method called Periodisation, players should plan for the season ahead by breaking their annual training plan into smaller and more manageable periods. These smaller periods are called mesocycles.

The benefit of Periodisation is that it lets us manage load, intensity fatigue and recovery.  This should in turn reduce the risk of over training. By using this method, you should be able to plan to peak for the competitive phase of the season.

During each phase, a specific or number of attributes can be targeted for development within that chosen period of time. Periods of appropriate overload and recovery must also be accounted for within each phase.

This brings us to where we are at now as Gaelic footballers and hurlers.

When we talk about strength and conditioning as part of our pre-season training program, we can’t just watch a YouTube video of Arnie training and repeat it. Think of it this way, would the seven-time Mr Olympia survive 70 minutes  with Brian Kennedy in the middle of the park?

Arnie may well look better shirtless than Brian, but Brian has the speed, stamina, power and agility to last 70 minutes. Arnie doesn’t.

Isolation exercises necessary for bodybuilding aren’t going to give you the best bang for your buck for your sports performance, and that is why it is important to train specifically for your sport.

Your pre-season program should focus on re-engaging and activating muscles after the previous off-season. The pre-season window should also prepare you for the gruelling season ahead, which means you should focus on training the muscles predominantly used in your sport.

Before you can dive into speed, skill, and power training, you need to focus on regaining full-body strength.

Building a strength foundation is vital to prevent future injuries, improve skills and overall fitness. When strength training, you are targeting neuromuscular development.

To gain maximal results, and for the neuromuscular system to adapt maximally to the training load, volume and intensity alterations are necessary. More specifically, strength training should involve exercises that progressively increase muscle strength and hypertrophy.

Each individual player will start with a different baseline of strength and will have a different training age when it comes to the gym, so it is important to screen and test every 6-8 weeks.

Before bumping the weights up and thinking about progressive overload, ensure that you are performing the exercises using the correct technique in a safe manner.

To maximize muscular strength, you generally work in a repetition range between 80 percent -100 percent of your one-rep max. The sets should also be between one – six. When it comes to exercise selection, focus on the big compound movements such as your squat, deadlift, bench press and chin -ups/pull-ups.

After your compound lift, you should add in one  to three  accessory exercises for supporting muscle groups. You will also want to incorporate rest periods of 60-90 seconds, depending on the intensity of the exercise.

For any strength or exercise programme to be successful, there must be a level of consistency together with progressive overload, for a considerable period of time. For this to happen, you have to bring the correct attitude both in the gym and outside of it.

Always try to better yourself each week.

Now is the time to make gains off the pitch that will have huge effect on how you perform next summer.

Get to know me: I’m Sean Robinson from Derrylaughan, Tyrone.

I am a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach and am the proud owner of Core Performance Gym. We recently opened the gym in September 2020.

I run various different programmes for my athletes and clients, ranging from strength classes, recovery sessions, small group personal training and one-to-one personal training.

To find out more, visit our Instagram or Facebook page, or contact myself on 07851158364.

For any additional advice feel free to get in touch with us @

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