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Aussie Rules Conditioning

Aussie rules conditioning is similar in nature to other codes of football and contact sports. I say similar because it’s not entirely the same. The unique aspect of Aussie rules football is that there is an exceptional amount of running involved when compared to other codes of football. The other unique aspect is that unlike other contact sports, in this one you are hit from every conceivable angle. This calls for a balance between every single one of the ten components of fitness. For Aussie rules conditioning to be effective, depending on the position, you need to be an equally good sprinter as you are a distance runner and at the same time you need to be able to take hits, deliver hits and jump high and even change direction at top speed when you are already completely exhausted.

Ok, so what is provided here is a basic programme in a 12 day cycle. The programme is designed to be done over a six-week period, completing the 12 day cycle three times, including rest days. It is assumed that you will increase performance throughout each training cycle so that by the end you will have improved on several markers of fitness.

With that in mind it is worth noting that programmes on this site are simply a guide. They are comprehensive enough to provide a great platform and a train of thought for a strength and conditioning programme. By all means, follow the programme as prescribed, but utilise professional judgement and the guidance of a coach to customise various aspects of the programme to suit your own strengths, weaknesses and current level of training.

Aussie rules is a dynamic sport with a lot of physical attributes. For this reason Aussie rules conditioning can be a complex beast. This programme has a lot of moving parts and is designed to cover all bases.

The Programme

DAY ONE: Strength and Power (As reps decrease you are to increase weight)

Snatch for 3-3-2-1

Cleans for 3-3-2-1 (Deep Olympic style cleans)

Deadlift for 5-3-1

Back squat for 5-3-1

Overhead barbell press (Standing) for 5-3-1

Weighted squat jumps (no more than 30% of your body weight as added weight) - You can do this with a weight vest or, as I do it, you can hold a dumbell in each hand. Do five sets of three reps with plenty of rest between sets.

DAY TWO: Short Sprint Session (with plyos)

Ensure rest periods between sprints and plyometric sets are sufficient to fully recover. Remember, this is not a cardio session and is not a session that will leave you fatigued at the end, so don’t aim for that effect as many people often do. Another point to note is that many of the plyometric exercises are assumed knowledge. If you don’t know what they are then just let your fingers do the walking over at youtube.

All sprints are to be at absolute flat-out pace.

10 x 10 metres - after each sprint perform one depth jump from a height of 75cm (approximate).

Wind-up sprints x 5 - Simply start each sprint slow with an exaggerated long stride. Over a distance of 100m gradually accelerate until you have reached maximum speed for the last 20 metres. After each sprint complete a set of five traveling tuck jumps, use hurdles if you have them.

5 x 40 metres - After each sprint perform five single leg bounds on each leg. These are simple, just hop five times as high and far as possible. Ensure each 40m sprint is at maximum pace.

DAY THREE: Strength/Anaerobic Capacity

Back squat for 5-3-2-2-1

Bent over row for 5-3-2-1

Weighted dips for 5-3-2-1

Overhead barbell press (standing) for 5-3-2-1

Standing Russian twist for one set of 30 reps

Now move outside to an open sports field and run as hard as humanly possible for the following interval times and rest periods once each….

Run 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds

Run 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds

Run 60 seconds, rest 30 seconds

Run 90 seconds, rest 40 seconds

Run 120 seconds, rest 50 seconds

Run at a flat-out 100% sprint for as long as you can possibly maintain then finish.

This seems like a lengthy session, however it can also be done as two sessions at different times of the day. In total it should take about 75 minutes at most, which includes the strength and the sprint training.

DAY FOUR: Agility and Aerobic Endurance

Set up markers for the Illinois agility test. For a demonstration of this just head over to youtube, there are plenty of demo videos there, including our channel UnleashedTraining101.

Now perform this course 10 times with 30-60 seconds rest between each time through.

Now set up three markers 15-20 metres apart in random places at random angles to each other. The goal is to sprint flat out to the first marker then rapidly change direction and sprint to the second and so on. Run through this course five times, resting 60 seconds between each.

Conclude with 3 x 400m sprint at the fastest possible pace.

DAY FIVE: Rest Day

DAY SIX: Repeat day one

DAY SEVEN: Multi Sprint Session With Plyometrics

Complete the following sprint distances with 90 seconds rest between each…

10m, 20m, 40m, 60m, 100m, 200m, 400m - Then work your way back down completing each distance in the opposite order.

5 x 5 traveling broad jumps. Rest 90 seconds between each set.

DAY EIGHT: Repeat Day Three

DAY NINE: Agility/Anaerobic Threshold/Endurance

This session is designed to simulate the running involved in a game. This is like the culmination of other aspects of fitness and will give the athlete the feeling of playing a game of football.

It’s very simple really, grab a football, head on down to your nearest sports ground.

Set a 60 minute countdown timer and kick the ball varying distances in various directions. Simply sprint as hard as you can towards the ball and retrieve it. Keep repeating this pattern for the entire hour.

DAY TEN: Rest Day

DAY ELEVEN: Strength/Volume

This workout is designed to be continuous with minimal rest periods.

Choose a weight for each exercise that is a challenge but is also realistic enough to expect to be able to complete the required repetitions in an acceptable amount of time.

Deadlift x 40

Barbell walking lunge x 60 steps

Pull-ups x 40

Push-ups x 60

Overhead barbell press or handstand push-ups x 40

Burpees x 40

DAY TWELVE: GPP/Cross Training

On the last day of our grueling 12-day cycle we will finish with a hardcore cross training session before having three days rest and then beginning the cycle again from day one.

Complete the following for time…

Run one mile

200 squats (bodyweight?

100 push-ups

50 pull-ups

Run one mile

After day 12 in the cycle you are to rest for three days then begin the cycle again from day one. It is assumed that you will challenge yourself and utilise weights that are progressively heavier and challenge yourself for better times, distance etc.

To conclude I would just like to say that this programme is by no means entirely conclusive and is not guaranteed to fit everyone’s current training regime and fitness level. This is for no other reason than that I don’t know you personally, nor have I a clue who you are and where you’re at. It is up to you and/or your coach to use the framework of this workout or use it as prescribed in order to maximise your overall training. I am a professional and have been training athletes for over a decade now, so programmes of this nature have had quite a bit of thought put into them. Follow it as is and challenge yourself and you will be in possibly the best shape of your life.

Make no mistake, this is not a beginner programme. As far as Aussie rules conditioning goes this training is fairly advanced. Enjoy the programme, use it to your maximum potential and you will be radically fitter in every required aspect after 6-12 weeks.

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YOUR COACH – Chris Lyons

Chris Lyons is an experienced strength and conditioning coach, having trained athletes of all ages and levels since 2002. Chris specialises in coaching athletes for speed and power specific to fast-moving sports such as rugby league, rugby union, soccer, Aussie rules football etc. Since 2002 Chris has conducted close to 15,000 hours of training and coaching directly with athletes and members of the general population. From this experience comes Sprint Ninja, based on tried and tested training methods combined with up to date research. Chris continues to challenge himself not only as a coach, but also as an athlete, competing in sprinting events, strongman and Olympic-style weightlifting.

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