Staying in shape during the football layoff

Staying in shape during the layoff

How have the last few weeks been for you in terms of sport? You'll no doubt have been exercising in a different way or not as much. With training sessions on hold and gyms closed, sticking at it has not been easy.

How have the last few weeks been for you in terms of sport? You'll no doubt have been exercising in a different way or not as much. With training sessions on hold and gyms closed, sticking at it has not been easy.

Your ability to get back into sport will depend a lot on what you've been able to do during this whole period. If you've not managed to do anything during lockdown, you'll need to gently work your way back into it to avoid picking up an injury. If you've been out jogging a few times or done some muscle strengthening work, you'll still need to take things gradually, albeit at a quicker pace. Here's our advice on how to start your pre-season preparations without getting injured. 


Patience is the name of the game

You've maybe been using apps and social media to follow different kinds of training programmes. Now's the time to get serious and prepare for the coming season. But where to start? 

You should work out on your own for the time being. If you're going to use equipment, then keep things safe by using your own. If you're using someone else's, then clean and disinfect it before you get started.

To reduce the risk of muscle and joint injuries, make sure you work your way back in gradually, especially if you've not been exercising much. PATIENCE is the watchword here.


Advice on getting back into training (depending on your level of activity during lockdown)

- No sport/exercise at all during lockdown

Do aerobic training: continuous effort over a long period. Muscle strengthening exercises are also recommended.

- No aerobic training (jogging, running, etc) but continued activity thanks to muscle strengthening exercises

Start running again, in aerobic mode first of all before quickly moving on to intermittent exercise. Keep going with your muscle strengthening programme, which will allow you to pick up your fitness levels quickly and will reduce the risk of you picking up injuries. 

- Continuous aerobic training in the form of running

Carry on with this. It's easier to keep running now that there are no restrictions on how far you can go from your home. You can throw some intermittent running into your sessions also.


Help with your preparations

There are football programmes for you to use on our free Decathlon Coach app. The "Managing the start of the season" programme is very well put together and will help you build your cardiovascular fitness levels right back up and start the new season on the front foot. 

If you're looking to work on your muscles, bulk up and develop your physical attributes (speed, elasticity, endurance and power), then try following the "Yellow for beginner", "Blue for intermediate" and "Red for advanced" programmes at my @Fitandfoodhealthy account on Instagram. These high-intensity interval training (HIIT) programmes are tailored to each level and allow you to train accordingly.

A little warning for anyone who's been fasting: if you've not been eating for while and have been taking on liquids irregularly (evenings only), you need to be eating a healthy, balanced diet for two whole weeks before you can get back into high-intensity training.


Not only will your muscles be dehydrated they'll have lost mass too. As they are mostly made up of water and proteins, it's important to rehydrate them properly and to eat a balanced diet. It'll take a week or two for your muscles to recover fully. During this transition period you should focus mainly on mid-intensity training.

By that time you'll be in the right shape to succeed with your preparations and return to sport in style. Give it all you've got!

Emeric Meunier

Emeric of fitandfoodhealthy

A qualified sports coach and fitness trainer for the last seven years, I played club football for 12 years at regional level. Thanks to my experience, I can respond to the problems faced by individuals and to the demands of clubs. I can deliver a whole host of free sports programmes tailored to every level and responding to different objectives.

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