Train like a tiger!

This Weekend Warrior workout by Wests Tigers strength and conditioning coach Aaron Zimmerman will help you perform better in any team sport.

If you’re a Weekend Warrior, you might be lacing on those boots and running around the local oval for the sheer fun of it. But while your fitness and skill levels might not be those of a professional, you’re still playing pretty much the same game with the same rules as you see on TV. So why not apply some pro training knowledge to help you perform better?

The Wests Tigers are one of the big surprises of this year’s NRL competition, with key acquisitions in playing personnel and training staff helping to create an unprecedented winning culture. We asked Aaron Zimmerman, one of the Wests Tigers strength and conditioning coaches, to create a workout for weekend warriors that embodies the essence of the Tiger’s training methods.

A former Fitness First PT, Aaron knows what exercises will work for gym members. He’s combined that knowledge with his expertise in advanced team sports training programs to create a workout designed to develop the endurance, mobility and flexibility you need to dominate on the field.

Even better, when you’re looking after professional footballers like Aaron does, injury prevention and fast recovery are paramount, so his workout is also designed to help prevent injuries and keep you on the field.

To boot, every single exercise in the workout is actually performed by the Wests Tigers players at training!

Aaron played weekend soccer in his native New Zealand before completing a Bachelor in Sport Science. While doing work experience with the Wellington Hurricanes rugby team, he was advised to become a PT, because it was a great way to learn how to train people. After graduation he moved to Australia, joining Fitness First Bondi Platinum gym.

While there, Aaron worked with the Australian Rugby Union for a couple of years, then with the Cronulla Sharks and eventually settled with the Wests Tigers, where he’s part of the team that turned the Tigers into one this year’s most exciting outfits.

His philosophy is to reverse engineer the movements required on the field to create the best workout for the players. “I think of my dream athlete, then break them down into specific characteristics. I then develop a program to make that athlete,” he explains.

With this workout, you can make yourself Aaron’s ideal weekend warrior!

Find “Aaron Zimmerman” on Facebook and LinkedIn, and on Instagram at @a2z_strength.


A-STANCE

Want to become faster and prevent injury in your field sport? The 3 Ps (Pattern, Position and Power) of sprinting are incredibly important skills to master, so I take any opportunity to train them, whether on the field or in the weights room. Being able to apply and distribute force into the ground while keeping the correct posture and sprinting is a skill in itself, but once learnt is a massive game changer. I tend to use these A-stance drills as an activation movement before a main lift within a superset.

 1A  LINEAR LOAD & LIFT

With the band around your hips, face forward with your hands on a wall. Create a forward lean by walking your feet back. Flex one knee to create a single leg squat and extend your other leg back. Drive your extended leg up towards the wall and into the air to hip-level to create an A-stance position.

 2A  LATERAL LOAD & LIFT

Stand tall with the band around your hips, your side facing the wall. Place your inside hand on the wall and squat down with your outside leg, extending your inside leg away from the wall behind your outside leg in a curtsey motion. Stand and bring your inside leg back in, raising it into the air so your knee is in line with your hip. Hold in the A-stance position for 2 seconds then repeat.

 3A  OVERHEAD BANDED A-STANCE MARCHES

Place a mini glute band over both feet and grab a dowel rod or lightweight BodyPump bar, raising it into an overhead position. Keep the rod raised for the entire movement. Lift one foot up to create the A-stance position and hold for 2 seconds. Drop your foot and raise your other foot, hold for 2 seconds and repeat.


POSTERIOR CHAIN STRENGTH

Training the posterior chain (lower back, glutes and hamstrings) is where you’ll get your bang-for-your-buck. It’s the engine room for field sport training and, if trained in the right way, will revolutionise the way your body copes with the demands of sport.

We know from research that you become more resistant to soft tissue injuries if you focus on training your hamstrings using eccentric methods (when the muscles lengthen) in a controlled environment. How is this possible? Without getting too technical, when we train the hamstring group in this manner we’re making the hamstring fascicles longer and stronger, and a long, strong fascicle helps make the hamstrings resilient to damage.

In a normal week I use a 3-day training split (lower strength/upper/lower power), and I use these exercises within the lower strength split. In a short week I will combine the lower strength and lower power into one workout day that covers both.

 1B  HIP THRUSTS

Load the bar up with bumper plates as they will make the bar sit higher off the ground. Using a piece of mat, foam or a rolled up towel to act as a protective barrier for your hips, sit on the ground with your shoulders on a bench and your legs bent, feet hip width apart and the bar above your hips. Drive your hips into the air, leaning into the bench and holding the bar with both hands. Lower slowly and repeat.

 2B  SINGLE LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFTS

Stand tall, holding the barbell just wider than shoulder width. Hinge at the hips and let the bar slide down your body, extending one leg out behind you at the same time. Your standing leg needs to have a small bend. Hinge until your back is parallel to the ground. On the way up, lift your chest up while driving your hips and extended leg back into the bar. Complete all sets on one side before changing legs.

 3B  RAZOR CURL

Set the Glute Ham Developer (GHD) so that you can be in a tall kneeling position. Hinge forward at the hips to parallel, then fully extended and lengthen the body as far as you feel comfortable. Return to the start position and repeat.


REACTIVE HAMSTRING

Training the posterior chain in a controlled manner (in the gym, where you control all the variables) is very important, but once you’ve reached an advanced stage, it’s equally as important to start training the same chain in an uncontrolled manner, as this is what happens on the field.

If the posterior chain is the engine room, then reactive hamstring training is the supercharger. Field athletes play in an uncontrolled environment, which means their ability to absorb and produce force from all angles is vital, so let’s train for this. Training the hamstrings to react to a foreign stimulus that creates different forces on the body is a great way to create a well-rounded athlete, and one that is resilient to injury.

I use these exercises within the lower power split on the long weeks, and in a short week I will combine these and the lower strength into one split.

 1C  HIP THRUST BALL THROWS

Lay on the ground with your legs bent and feet hip-width apart. Lift your hips up in the air and hold. Have someone throw a ball to you over your legs — catch it above your head and throw it back. Don’t let your hips drop for all reps.

 2C  SINGLE LEG ISOMETRIC BALL THROWS

Lay on top of two benches with your legs on one and your shoulders on the other. Raise one leg into an A-stance position. Have a partner throw a ball over your legs. Catch it above your head and throw back. Repeat on the same leg. Do not drop the leg thats up in the A-stance position for all reps.

 3C  SINGLE LEG ISOMETRIC BACK EXTENSION with CHAOTIC PLATE PRESSES

Set the Glute Ham Developer (GHD) so you can be in a parallel position with your hips near the middle of the pads. Take one leg out and leave one leg in with a bend towards the ground. Grab a light plate, move your hands away and stay and stiff as you can. Press the plate up and down in different directions. Repeat on the other leg.