Atlanta United is partnering with Piedmont in an offseason series hosted by Ryan Alexander, the club’s Director of Sports Science. In each episode of the four-part series, Alexander walks us through a different area of offseason recovery.
Episode two focuses on conditioning.
The goal for Alexander and his team when designing an offseason program for Atlanta United is to help each player keep fit no matter what his offseason environment looks like.
Some players enjoy their time away in colder climates where snow covers the local soccer fields and running outside may be more of a safety risk. Other players might vacation with their families and only have enough access to a hotel gym.
“We utilize various modalities in the offseason to give our players a cardiovascular stimulus that will support the demands of our preseason schedule,” Alexander said.
For players in colder climates, Alexander considers safety. Running on frozen surfaces or snow-covered fields may involve risk, so to alleviate any concern Alexander utilizes indoor bikes and treadmills in his program. These workouts usually start at lower intensities across longer working periods for 5-8 minutes.
"The goal is to achieve consistency in the offseason, so we always communicate with our players on what resources they have and modify based on what they have access to during the time away from us," Alexander said.
As the offseason progresses, the intervals become shorter and the intensity on the equipment increases. For a bike, that’s increasing resistance. On a treadmill, that means increasing the speed. Moving closer to the preseason, the workouts shift toward repeating shorter bursts at a higher intensity. Going 10-30 seconds of work achieves a higher heart rate and raises the overall intensity of the workout.
Some players receive alternate forms of conditioning. That might include battle ropes if Alexander wants to offer a cardiovascular stimulus without putting stress on the lower body. For those players that enjoy higher intensity workouts, Alexander offers an Airdyne/Assault bike workout. (Only a few players make those requests in the offseason.)
Sometimes Alexander modifies the conditioning program to meet the needs of the players. In general, Atlanta United’s players still get outside and execute their programs following more traditional runs. Alexander encourages altering the intensities of runs on the grass to support the volume of training that occurs in preseason.
“We maintain the same concepts as we do in the gym but we apply it to the field,” Alexander said. “Varying the distance and intensity of the runs as we get closer to preseason brings the right balance of preparation and recovery for our players during the offseason.”
With a workout tailored to their physical needs and external environment, players can maintain their fitness as they take some personal time this offseason.
Watch the video to see Alexander demonstrate the conditioning workouts: