I made this video from a couple of sessions I took with friends both professional footballers. The session was mainly speed, agility and quickness work (SAQ). There was also some plyometric training done.
I was always told that if you feel thirsty then you are more than likely already dehydrated. So what can we do to prevent this from happening? A basic understanding should help us take precautions. From the first sentence you will realise that thirst is not a good indicator of hydration and exercise can suppress your thirst further and you may not even think to drink. So why do we need fluid and how is it lost? Our bodies on average consist of 60% water although this can obviously vary from person to person. Lean muscle contains around 70-75% water where as fat tissue contains around 10-15% water. Because of this it is even more important for an athlete to balance his total body water volume through correct fluid intake. Water is lost largely through sweating but it is also lost in very small amounts through breathing and through the skin. Even in cooler weather (10 degrees celsius) footballers can lose up to 2L a game.
So What Should We Be Drinking and When?
During exercise its not just water that is lost, we start to use up our body stores of carbohydrate and we also lose electrolytes through our sweat. This is why we should consider a drink that contains all of these such as a sports drink. Tests show that by consuming a large amount of dilute glucose electrolyte solution, the onset of fatigue can be delayed quite considerably and this will help maintain performance for longer. As well as considering drinking lots to stay hydrated it is also important to be aware of over hydrating. This is very rare and only usually happens in long distance events such as marathons but in case there is any marathon runners reading this here’s a tip for you. As a guideline for athletes of all abilities if completing a marathon distance you don’t need to consume more than 2-4 litres of fluid. It’s slower runners that are mainly at risk as they are able to consume more fluid during a marathon and this can lower the sodium concentration levels in the body. This can lead to nausea, fatigue and confusion.
There are 3 important times to consider your fluid intake
- Pre exercise: You should try to consume around 500ml of water 2 hours prior to exercise so that the kidneys can regulate the total water levels in your body.
- During exercise: This is a very important time to consume fluids and you want to aim to consume roughly around 500ml of fluid every hour. This can obviously vary slightly dependent on the intensity of the exercise and the climate you are working in and its also dependent on the your fitness level. During exercise you should consider the type of fluid you consume as you want it to contain some carbohydrate and electrolytes, to replace what is being lost.
- Post exercise: If you can weigh yourself before and immediately after exercise you can work out exactly how much fluid has been lost and replace this. For every Kilogram of bodyweight you lose you should consume about 1L of fluid. After exercise this is another important time to try to drink a sports drink to replace what has been lost.
3 Tips To Stay Hydrated
- Carry a bottle of water with you every day and aim to drink at least 2L a day sipping it regularly.
- To test to see if you are fully hydrated before exercise or competition a good guide is to make sure your urine is a pale colour!
- A sports drink during exercise is better than just water as it helps replace electrolytes lost through sweat and they contain glucose for replacing your carbs you are using.
The Importance of Core Work
We’ve all seen the guy in the gym who just bashes out a few reps on the bench, throws in a few bicep curls, and finishes off with a couple of sit ups. Not only is he wasting his time, but he is missing out on a very important factor of all training and exercise: the need to train and strengthen the core muscles.
What are your core muscles?
The core is a term used to describe the group of muscles around the mid-section of your body, in the main consisting of the transverse abdominal muscle, the pelvic floor muscles, the rectus abdominals and the obliques. Our core muscles are the root of every movement we make. They stabilize the pelvis, spine and ribs, which can improve posture and can reduce back pain and injuries. In football a strong core is as important as a good first touch. It plays a big role in your balance, speed and power. It provides stability for every movement you make and helps generate power, not just in the core, but throughout the whole body.
A six pack may look good but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a stable, strong core. It’s vital that you work all the muscles around the core to reduce the risk of injury and muscular imbalance and generally any exercise you do where your body is slightly unstable or unbalanced will activate your core muscles.
Top 3 Tips For Greater Core Strength
Lying on your front put your forearms on the floor so that your elbows are directly under your shoulders. Next lift your body of the ground so that only your toes and forearms are on the floor. Keep your body nice and straight so that you knees are in line with your hips which are in line with your shoulders which should be in line with your ears. Draw in your navel very slightly contracting your core. Try to hold this for thirty seconds. If you can’t manage this bring your knees to the floor but then keep your body straight from your knees to your shoulders.
‘The Back Bridge’
Lying on your back put your hands at your sides, knees bent, feet flat on the floor under your knees. Tightening your buttocks and abdominals very slightly raise your hips off the ground. You want to have a straight line going from your knees to your shoulders. Remember to draw in the navel very slightly. Hold for thirty seconds. If you can’t do it for this long begin with just a few seconds and build up gradually.
Lie on your side with your forearm on the floor. Elbow should be bent and directly below your shoulder. Next lift your hip of the floor until your spine is straight. Top foot should be placed on bottom foot. Hold again if you can for thirty seconds but you can build up to this.
How it Has Helped
It was only through working with a very good sports scientist at one of my first football clubs that I started to take the training of my core muscles seriously, and I have to say that I have noticed a massive improvement in my all round balance, strength, and power.
There are still lots of people inside and outside of gyms that are unaware of the importance of the core muscles. By following these three simple exercises you can slowly start to build up your core strength that will set you on the path to achieving your wider fitness goals.
• Using the gym ball for sit ups is great for the core
• Using the Bosu ball when doing squats is another great way of activating the core
• Pilates is also an excellent and relaxing way to train your core