Resistance training for referees

What is resistance training? This is a form of training that increases muscle strength and endurance through applying resistance to the muscle during muscle contractions. Commonly associated with lifting weights in the gym. This helps build muscle strength and size, meaning your muscles can work more efficiently. More efficient muscles means less energy used and better physical performance, and a reduced chance of injury.  

We don’t all have access to a gym, and with busy lives it can sometimes be tough to get all the training in we need. Going for a run is easier: shoes on, out the door and… you are off. But getting to the gym can often be the biggest challenge, especially around travel, family and work. 

There are so many benefits of strength training as I wrote about in the last post. But you do not always have to be a member of a gym to get stronger, although access to heavy weights when needed has great advantages. 

In this blog post you get tips about resistance training for referees from Martin, he’s a physical performance coach based in the UK and you can find him as RefereeFit on Instagram. He’ll introduce himself below and will share his advice with you. “We are going to look at different ways to strengthen muscles through resistance training using compound and isolation exercises, calisthenics, band work and yoga.”

Compound vs isolation exercises

First, what is the difference between compound and isolation exercises? 

Compound exercise is a movement that uses more than one muscle group, moving more than multiple joints at a time. The big movers are squat, deadlift, bench press and Olympic lifting, kettle bell complexes. These big compound movements will all help improve overall strength and power.

Isolation exercises are just that: a movement that moves one muscle group over one joint. For this think leg curl, leg extension, bicep curl etc. Add these into a program to improve the strength of a muscle group. For example, you might have a weakness in your squat and overcompensate on one side; spending a block working a little more on the weaker side in isolation will help improve and strengthen the squat movement when you come back to it. 

4 types of strength training

There are 4 main types of strength training, and all will increase your strength to different degrees.  These 4 main types of specific strength training are: 

  1. Power – This type of training will help your explosive power; think sprinting, Olympic lifting, squat jumps, deadlifts. Power from the muscles will help you accelerate and decelerate. Look back at Shape

Description automatically generated with medium confidence (acceleration = Force/mass) from the last post. If your muscles can generate more force through having more strength and power, then you will have greater acceleration, and declaration. Load is really exercise specific, but the focus should be on moving the weight explosively. Load can be between 70-95% 1 rep max (RM) for 1-5 reps and 3-5 sets with a long 3-5minute rest between so you can fully recover for the next set.
  1. Strength – This type of training is designed to help produce maximum strength through your muscles. Compound exercises are great for building overall strength: squats, deadlifts, bench press and Olympic lifting. Like those mentioned in developing power. But for strength training you want to be lifting heavy. Aim for a weight 80-95% of your 1RM. Low reps between 1-7, and between 3-5 sets with 2-3 minutes rest between each set. 
  1. Hypertrophy. This is the increase (growth) of the size of the muscle. This is the type of training with rep ranges between 6-12 with 4-6 sets per muscle group at an intensity of 60-80% of 1RM. The tempo should be controlled with 1-3 sec eccentric muscle contraction, that’s the lengthening of your muscle. Rest should be between 60-90 seconds between sets. 
  1. Muscle endurance. This is normally low weight: 40-60% 1RM and high rep of >12 for 2 or 3 sets and rest between 30-60 seconds between sets. This type of training can develop muscle fibres to become more resistant to fatigue. 

You can still develop good muscle strength by training at home or whilst travelling with limited or no equipment. A set of weight changeable dumbbells or a kettle bell workout can help build strength and power, as can calisthenics. 

Calisthenics is the term used to describe bodyweight training to increase strength, fitness, and mobility. Exercise such as push-ups, sit-ups, squats, burpees, pull-ups, dips, lunge, donkey kicks, planks, jumps, jump rope and many more can give you the strength and conditioning you need. Just google ‘Human flag’ to see what you can achieve through body weight exercises. 

Training with your body weight you really work the deep, core muscles of the body. You can add band work to this to increase resistance. The bonus is that you can train anywhere, anytime: home, hotel room, work, airport lobby! With the correct programming, a good body weight session can improve your fitness to similar levels of a gym-based program. 

Resistance training and yoga

The final type of training I want to talk about is Yoga. 

This is often thought of as some stretches and increasing your flexibility. But for those who have done yoga or do yoga you will know the strength and endurance needed of your muscles and your core to maintain the poses. Yoga not only improves flexibility but will importantly get you strong at the end range of movement, this is where injuries often happen. 

Your resistance training should consist of all types but not at once. We need to break it down into blocks of training, referred to as periodisation. In these blocks we can change/ manipulate variables such as load, time, volume etc to optimise and progress our performance and prevent overtraining. This also applies to pitch-based cardio/ conditioning, changing such variables as running time, pace, load, volume etc. More on periodisation in a later blog. 

Your exercise choice depends greatly on your training experience. It’s not advised to go into heavy lifting without having some training experience or help from a qualified trainer. If you need some personal guidance to your training, then do not hesitate to get in contact with me. 

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