COVID-19 and the home training crisis of competitive athletes

The worldwide paralysis caused by the coronavirus forces competitive athletes to train at home. Effective training programs are missing just like toilet paper on supermarket shelves.

The coronavirus crisis has shown the vulnerability of our society. Public life around the world has come to a standstill. Curfews, assembly bans, “social distancing” and #stayathome slogans are haunting the media. The world of sports is also in a state of shock, as training centres and sports facilities are closed. Under these conditions, effective preparation with the usual methods is impossible.

Psychological pull-ups

Difficult times for competitive athletes, because uncertainty wears down the motivation of all involved. The recent decision to postpone the 2020 Olympic Games by one year has taken the psychological burden off the shoulders of Olympic athletes at least. Here the training is first of all shut down and after a break one has to think about a new preparation strategy.

But the rest of the sports world remains in a vacuum of uncertainty. The psychological skills of the trainers are now more needed than ever. Sports associations are also morally strengthening their members with exercise tips. But the effect remains moral, because nobody has answers to the athletes’ urgent training questions.

The current proposals for solutions are at the level of German Home Gymnastics of 1920 – I’m not kidding, see original photo on the title. In 2020 we don’t need another push-up or squat video, we should actually be further advanced, because today modern training programs for highly specialized athletes are needed.

The home training dilemma

The skills of those responsible in terms of training methodology are put to the test in this extreme situation. How can the athletic preparedness be maintained in prescribed home training? Or maybe it can be even improved? The Corona chaos shows how unprepared we are for this crisis in competitive sports.

It becomes clear how dependent athletes and coaches have become on gigantic sports facilities and expensive training centres. Without an open facility, training is unthinkable for many teams. Consequently, there are no effective solutions in training plans and contents that deliver good results even without these prerequisites.

The reason for the general lack of ideas in training management is quickly identified: a lack of education. There is a lack of know-how on how to set highly effective stimuli even under limited conditions. Modern sports technology would make it possible, but has obviously not yet got around.

In a good article in the German soccer magazine “Kicker”, Bayer Leverkusen’s strength and conditioning coach Schahriar Bigdeli documents the current home training dilemma: “It’s all about losing fitness as slowly as possible”, “We can’t get into these soccer-specific stresses”. “For two weeks you can preserve your fitness very well. After that you should try to get into normal routines and intensities as soon as possible. That is very important”.

Everything is correct – with the current thinking, that is all coined in the last century!

Use crisis as a chance

With contemporary methods and modern sports technology it is possible to preserve and even develop the physical qualities over longer periods of time with minimal resources. The methods for this are simply not used:

  • KAATSU-Training: Metabolic overload at low external intensities, anabolic cascade without structural damage
  • Wearable Resistance: high-tech exoskeleton for discipline-specific strength training
  • Flywheel training: Eccentric overload without heavy dumbbells
  • Stress-oriented instead of load-oriented training control: optimization of training effects on the basis of electrical biosignals ECG, EEG, etc…

None of this is systematically used in the home training strategies of elite athletes, although the effectiveness of the above methods has long been proven in practice and science. But just as the home office is an opportunity for companies to streamline processes, the home training dilemma is also a way for competitive sports to find answers to new problems.

After the crisis is before the crisis

It will not be the last crisis, that much is certain. We have to get used to the fact that the transformation of our society through globalization and technologization means the end of stable conditions. Volatility is the constant we have to deal with.

Athletes and coaches who have a good basic knowledge, creativity and a pronounced ability to adapt will even benefit from crises. Anti-fragile systems will draw competitive advantages from crises, crises make them better. In the current situation, home training can become an experimental laboratory, because at the moment you have nothing to lose, but a lot to win.

In cooperation with pullsh we have put together a corresponding professional package. You can find it under the following link.

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