The quarantine necessary to flatten the pandemic curve has completely changed the training and competition dynamics of athletes and clubs, which suddenly have had to modify their usual training.
Technical staff, trainers and nutritionists are facing a major challenge. Not only preventing the lack of training, but the objective is also to induce a training load similar to a normal period so that when the competition is resumed, the athletes can face it in optimal conditions.
“Even though that as a community we were not aware of the impact and the measures that were to be adopted, we tried to anticipate them and developed a schedule for each player that tries to simulate the workload of a regular week,” says Antonio Gómez, strength and conditioning coach of FC Barcelona’s first team.
“The load dynamic is very similar to our regular microcycle. We simulated our two-game weeks and the day off, by outlining two workload peaks, one in the middle and the other at the end of the week”, says Gómez, Doctor of Science in Physical Activity and Sports.
Coaches and physical trainers are in daily contact with each player at an individual level and they follow a schedule that combines strength training and endurance training suited to the context available.
“They perform endurance sessions on the stationary bike or treadmill. Players have the objective of performing an interval work where they reach speeds and heart rates that can simulate the competition”, explains Andrés Martín, F.C. Barcelona U-19 strength and conditioning coach, and Doctor of Science in Physical Activity and Sports. “Players are not allowed to go outside; therefore, it is not possible to analyse GPS data, so, after each training session they send us the RPE (rate of perceived exertion), the distance and running pace in order to analyse the workload and thus be able to make modifications based on it ”.
The exertion perceived in these sessions is to be considered a relevant fact. “The players are reporting slightly higher values (7-8 compared to the average of 5.5), which may be related to thermal stress, since the sessions are performed indoors and the body is unable to dissipate heat with the same efficiency as it does outdoors and with the mechanical stress generated by exercises which players are not used to. Also, with the emotional load of not being able to leave home and last, with the non-specificity of the stimulus ”, both Martín and Gómez affirm.
Another relevant aspect is that during this period, players’ energy consumption will be reduced. That is why weight is also being monitored in order to prevent an increase in fat percentage.
This extraordinary situation demands extraordinary measures that prove the ability of coaches, physical trainers and nutritionists to find new formulas that allow maintaining the players’ fitness and motivation in such a difficult context.
The Barça Innovation Hub team