Fitness Update: “They Are Working Very Hard”

By: Kevin Affleck

The first-team players have been prescribed detailed home programmes and have stepped up the levels of intensity this week as they continue to adjust to life away from the training ground.

No return date has yet been given for life to resume at the London Colney training base as the country seeks to contain the spread of the coronavirus, so the players have been working out at home.

Nigel Pearson's squad were given a "basic programme" to follow last week but fitness coach Victor Cervera said that has now been modified and ramped up.

“The programme has changed a bit,” he said. “They have a couple of sessions during the day: a muscular part in terms of strength and another one for cardiovascular fitness. That CV session is done on a bike, on a treadmill or some have been doing it in the park if they haven't got the facilities at home. We want to modulate the week and touch all parts of the physiological core. They are focussing on the basics, building the aerobic capacity, building the capacity to work in volume and then working on specific zones. It is a good moment to build parts of the fitness that you wouldn't work on during the season.”

Troy Deeney, João Pedro, Ben Foster, Ignacio Pussetto and Kiko Femenía have all posted videos on social media of their workouts, and Cervera said that is reflective of how the whole group are buying into these unusual circumstances.

“They are working very hard,” said Cervera. “The engagement in the programme has been high. They are completing all the sessions we have prescribed and some of them are contacting me asking to do more. Sometimes I need to stop them and say 'Today is not the day' as it's important they stay in their physiological zone otherwise it interrupts the sessions we have planned. I am texting them daily and we can make the next micro cycle a bit harder if necessary.”

The whole thing is being done remotely to avoid social contact, but the attention to detail is forensic.

“We want to be controlling exactly what they are doing,” said Cervera. “We have sent heart-rate bands to their houses and we'll use the date for our internal log. When they work out, they have to wear the heart-rate band and then we can ensure they are working properly and they upload the session to the App. We can check the timings are correct, minutes they have passed in every zone, their average power, calculate the calories they are burning and also record the perception of how hard they think they are working from a scale of one to ten. We know exactly what they are doing and I'm in contact with them daily so I can understand any difficulties they have. I stay on them every day.”

Goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann is keen to make sure he is ticking all the fitness boxes so he comes back in the best possible shape.

“We are all in the same situation,” said Bachmann. “We just want everyone to get back healthy and stay safe. At the same time we know we have got to stay ready as we don't know if and when we are going to restart. We've got a bit of time off and we can't switch off completely. You've got to be ready for when the call comes to train and play again.”

The engagement in the programme has been high. They are completing all the sessions we have prescribed and some of them are contacting me asking to do more.
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