GAA Pre-Season Strength & Conditioning – part 2

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GAA Pre-Season Strength & Conditioning – part 2


GAA Pre-Season Strength & Conditioning Week 3 – Strength

The usual idea of S&C is that we will get the team members to lift really heavy weights for a period of weeks and then they will be seriously strong…..and if we combine this with lots and lots of running then no one will be fit to keep up with us!

Of course this is not what happens at all and then the manager will get upset with this “nonsense” that we are wasting our time with…

But the goal of building strength early in the season is to get the body ready for the impact of the season ahead.

The hamstrings, glutes and lower back are essential to have built up in order to have any sort of power in the legs when running and to try and prevent injuries later in the season.(For information on Hamstring Injuries please click here)


This needs to be balanced with mobility/ flexibility/stretching work to make sure you aren’t doing more harm than good. Just lifting as heavy as possible repeatedly could lead to injury later on in the season which has happened to me.


A basic principle when looking at your program is too have the following – please see videos below:

Upper and Lower Body Push exercise eg push up, Squats

Upper and Lower Body Pull Exercise  eg Pull up’s, Dead lifts

Core – Such as Planks and all the exercises that get the core activated

No matter what the program there is always some form of those exercises in there.

There are a variety of ways to maintain your aerobic capacity from the previous season so while you may think you have to run, this isn’t always necessary. Especially for a club footballer who probably has a high level of underlying fitness.

Try to find something you enjoy like swimming, a circuit class etc as there will be enough running when the season gets into full swing so now is your chance to do something fun


GAA Pre-Season Strength & Conditioning Week 4 – Conditioning


If you keep your aerobic conditioning up over the winter then you will only need a week or 2 of long runs to get yourself built back up again. After these few weeks you can start looking at power and speed runs, which is where hill runs come in great.

For these you want a 20%- 30% incline sprint for 5- 10 seconds…..


Maintaining these results throughout the season is where most of us struggle, not getting enough rest is a very common problem here especially with lots of training sessions and then games at weekends.


If your reading this article then you are more than likely one of the fitter players on your team and probably even your division.

But you sometimes go out and are really struggling while other players that don’t seem to be in as great shape are flying past you!


While you were bursting out that workout yesterday cause you felt you had to do something, they were lying up watching the TV.

Of course this is not to say they are right either…

But maybe if you had removed or made that final workout easier and done some light recovery/ mobility work then you would be flying past him.


So if you have a game Sunday it is important to do short sharp/ power stuff throughout the week balanced with lots of rest and good food/ water.


GAA Pre-Season Strength & Conditioning Week 5 – Basic Nutrition


Nutrition for club players is a very individual topic.

Some players need to eat more and some players need to eat less…..and some, a lot less!

So while you have a lot of variables to take into consideration there are also a lot of things that are common across the board.

  • Get Protein in every mealFruit and veg - GAA Pre-Season Strength & Conditioning
  • Eat clean carbs 80% of the time
  • Eat lots of vegetables
  • Have some fruit
  • Drink 2- 3 litres of water a day



For the players that are over eating will know what they have to do. Cut down their calories and replace some of their poor food choices with much better ones. But I have a sneaky feeling this article isn’t being read by the players who have a stone or 2 to lose. If you have that problem then just see the points above.


A more common problem that is rarely discussed is with players that do a lot of training and don’t eat enough.

This is something I have learnt the hard way big time over the years. When doing a lot of training you will need extra calories and can get away with some shall we say “poor food choices” especially if your not too concerned about having those ripped abs.

For example, rugby players could be eating pizzas and biscuits to get their calories up. So if your struggling to eat the required amount then these food choices will get you over the edge.

A big concept I use with clients both athletes and nonathletes is the 80/ 20 principle.

So if you eat 80% good clean food and 20% of the rest just to get those calories up then it could well do you a lot more good than just sticking to Paleo stuff or under eating.


As long as you keep some sort of track of your calories. Most 75kg to 80kg athletes I know would usually eat about 4 meals a day with 1- 2 big snacks with that.


If you want to take this to an extra edge then the app My Fitness Pal will give you a great idea of where your calories are.

You don’t have to be measuring all your food etc but just take time to get use to the app and use it as a guide.

You will learn a lot about calorie intake and what is required to meet the necessary numbers.


Darragh Holland

Sports and Exercise Science Degree (Hons)

Certified Personal Trainer

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