Best Strength & Conditioning Program For AFL Players

Creating a comprehensive strength and conditioning workout plan for Australian Rules Football (AFL) players is crucial for enhancing their performance, injury prevention, and overall fitness. This guide will provide a detailed plan with exercises rooted in sports science principles to help AFL players excel on the field.

Important Considerations:

Before beginning any strength and conditioning program, AFL players should undergo a thorough assessment by qualified sports professionals, including physiotherapists, strength coaches, and sports scientists. Individual needs and limitations may vary, so personalized adjustments to the program are essential.

Phase 1: Off-Season (4-8 weeks)

The off-season is an ideal time to build a solid foundation of strength and address any imbalances or weaknesses. The focus is on developing strength, power, and mobility.

1. Squats (Back Squats and Front Squats):

  • Why: Squats target the lower body muscles, including quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, crucial for running, jumping, and tackling.
  • Sets/Reps: 4 sets of 6-8 reps.

2. Deadlifts:

  • Why: Deadlifts strengthen the posterior chain, including the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, which are vital for explosive movements and injury prevention.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 6-8 reps.

3. Lunges (Forward and Reverse):

  • Why: Lunges improve single-leg stability and enhance agility.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 10 reps per leg.

4. Bench Press:

  • Why: Bench press strengthens the chest, shoulders, and triceps, contributing to pushing power.
  • Sets/Reps: 4 sets of 6-8 reps.

5. Pull-Ups:

  • Why: Pull-ups develop upper body strength, particularly in the back and arms.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 6-8 reps.

6. Core Exercises (Planks, Russian Twists, Leg Raises):

  • Why: Core strength is essential for stability and injury prevention.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 10-15 reps for each exercise.

7. Plyometric Drills (Box Jumps, Medicine Ball Throws):

  • Why: Plyometrics improve explosive power and agility.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 8-10 reps for each exercise.

Phase 2: Pre-Season (4-8 weeks)

As the season approaches, the focus shifts toward maintaining strength while increasing power and conditioning.

8. Power Cleans:

  • Why: Power cleans enhance explosive power, crucial for tackling and sprinting.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 5-6 reps.

9. Split Squats (Bulgarian Squats):

  • Why: Split squats improve single-leg strength and stability.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 8-10 reps per leg.

10. Bench Pulls:

  • Why: Bench pulls target the upper back and biceps.
  • Sets/Reps: 4 sets of 6-8 reps.

11. Sled Pushes and Pulls:

  • Why: Sled exercises build strength, endurance, and power specific to AFL demands.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 40-50 meters.

12. Agility Drills (Ladder Drills, Cone Drills):

  • Why: Agility drills enhance footwork and change of direction abilities.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 10-15 seconds per drill.

Phase 3: In-Season

During the season, maintaining strength and preventing injuries are priorities. Workouts should be less intense to allow for recovery.

13. Maintenance Lifts (Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press):

  • Why: These exercises help maintain strength without overloading the body.
  • Sets/Reps: 2 sets of 6-8 reps.

14. Bodyweight Exercises (Push-Ups, Bodyweight Squats, Planks):

  • Why: These exercises help maintain fitness levels during the season.
  • Sets/Reps: 2 sets of 10-15 reps.

15. Recovery Drills (Foam Rolling, Stretching, Yoga):

  • Why: Recovery is crucial for injury prevention and maintaining performance.
  • Frequency: After every training session.

16. Sport-Specific Conditioning (Game Simulation Drills):

  • Why: Simulating game conditions helps maintain match fitness.
  • Frequency: Weekly.

This comprehensive AFL strength and conditioning program is designed to enhance player performance, reduce the risk of injury, and ensure players are at their physical peak throughout the season. Regular monitoring and adjustments by qualified professionals are essential to tailor the program to individual needs and track progress.

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