Queens Park Rangers’ head of performance, Dan Bernardin, has had a unique summer – with his player preparation time effectively halved due to lockdown. Despite the difficulties he says the players have been “fantastic”. As a strength and rehabilitation specialist, he shares his top three principles for training that have helped his team, and can also help anyone who wants to get fit at home.
Ten minute blasts: Start small and build up
1. Start with ten minutes, make small increases – ‘progressive overload’
“Going hard and trying to get fit quickly isn’t the best way to get going. You need to start with ten minutes of something you like and form a habit. It’s good to have small but consistent progressions. I suggest training every second day when you first begin. Variation is key to continually stimulate the body and mixing interval runs with bodyweight exercises can be a cost-effective way of doing this. Change what you do every day. If you’re training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, do bodyweight exercises on Monday, do a run on Wednesday and on Friday another bodyweight circuit. Make sure you make small, incremental increases, weekly or daily – this is ‘progressive overload’."
Interval runs - two-minute runs followed by 30 second rests. From ten to 20 minutes in total
Bodyweight exercises - such as squats or walking lunges. Choose six exercises, perform 12 to 20 times each in a circuit format with zero to 30 seconds rest between each exercise
2. What is it you’re trying to achieve? – make it specific
“If you’re a footballer and you do all of your training in a swimming pool it’s going to do absolutely nothing for you in terms of football specific fitness. Training should be specific to the goals being set and variation is vital. Being smart about how you plan your training will give you better results. For example, If you want to be a better 10km runner, then you need to be running. But it’s not just about going out and running 10km. You’ll need to do a mix of hill runs, short sprints, or 12km at a slower pace so you get used to 10km. All of your training should all be specific to what you want to achieve.”
3. Focus on intensity
“All of our training at QPR is based on intensity - when you train with it you can train for a very long period. That’s why the best way to train is through intervals because you can reach high intensities for short times. You rest and you go again. For elite athletes, intensity is most important but it also works at home.”
Motivation may be hard to come by as the cold and dark of autumn looms, but Dan is upbeat on how to keep fit in those times. If you can’t face the outdoors, he suggests buying an exercise bike. “You can do so many different things on the bike – different types of intervals, high level sprints. An exercise bike can accommodate all ages and isn’t too stressful on the body.”
On Your Bike: Dan Bernardin recommends exercise bike use in the home
The old-fashioned ‘bleep-test’ can strike fear into people, invoking memories of school P.E days, but a simple method used by the All Blacks in rugby is gaining popularity. This can be easily replicated to measure fitness progress.
“This season we’ve utilised the Bronco Test," Dan explains. "The players like it as it can take as little as five minutes. It can give us the same outcome and information as a bleep-test but is more time efficient”.
The Bronco Test consists of:
Run 20m and back
Run 40m and back
Run 60m and back
Repeat five times as quickly as possible
Take the All Blacks test: The new fitness test used by QPR this season