10 Things Every GAA Player Should Be Able to do in the Gym

 1. A full pistol squat.

I’m starting of with a big ask. This one might take time, but the benfits of strength, injury prevention, will make it well worth it. Plus it’s a cool party trick. The key here is to start a challenging enough level (pistol squat to a bench), and gradually lower the height of the bench until you are doing full pistols. Ass to the grass baby!

 2. 10 full chin ups

Forget about doing bicep curls and bench pressing. Come back to me when you are performing 10 full range of motion chin ups. This will translate to better posture and an immovable arm reaching for the high ball from a kickout/ puckoutin the middle of a crowed midfield. Only perform full range chin up (all the way up, and all the way down) to get the benefit out of this killer exercise.

 3. Pass the Arm to Wall Test

With good strength, must come good mobility. One big problem that I see in GAA players is a loss of range of motion at the shoulders. This can result in injury to the immediate area, but can also have a knowck on effect in the lower back, hips, knees, and ankles. Stand with your heels, ass, shoulders, and head against the wall and try to bring the back of your arms flush with the wall. If you can do this without any compensation at the lower back or neck, then you pass. If you cant, then you need to get your mobility on.  If you fail this test it’s a good idea to hold of on the chin ups until you have adequate mobility to get the arms overhead.

 4. Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts

Essential movement skill, and a key strength exercise to develop healthy hamstrings. This is a technical enough exercise if you have never done it before, but remember that your back should stay flat/ slightly arched, and you should feel a nice stretch on the hamstrings when doing it.

5. 2 minute front plank

This is a good indication of how well your core muscles are functioning. Dr Stuart McGill recommends 2 minutes as a standard that we should all be able to reach. However, hanging out passively in the front plank position is useless at best, and counterproductive at worst. Do planks like you mean them! (Check out this short video on how to plank properly).

 6. Go 60 minutes without having to use your phone

We have a little ritual at ACLAÍ that if someone uses their phone or brings it into the gym with them, they have to do the ‘Im a little tae pot’ dance, clean the toilets, and do 100 bodyweight squats. Your in the gym to train, Facebook can wait!

7. A good hip hinge

This is a follow on from number 4. A good hip hinge means says so much in terms of you ability to get full hip extension,  produce power, keep unwanted pressure of the lower back, and your potential to build super human strength. Further without full marks in the hip hinge, deadlifts are pretty much off the menu for you, so its well worth building proficiency in this movement.

8. At least 40cm counter movement jump

There’s nothing that gets the hearts of GAA fans racing like an almighty leap into the air to pluck the ball from the midst of a crowd, and having a good counter movement jump under your belt will give you the potential to be that player. Further, good scores in the counter movement jump are closely linked to fast 5, 10, and 20m sprint times, which can also come in very handy on the field of play.

9. Put your sh!t back

At ACLAÍ Health and Performance, we make a point of NOT having any signs instructing people to replace the weight/ equipment. It’s a matter of integrity, manners, humility, and common sense that if you use a piece of equipment that you should replace it. That gym need to be a better place when you walk out of it that it was when you walked in, so don’t be afraid to set an example and put some stuff back that was left behind by a less fortunate soul than yourself.

10. 20 horizontal rows

One of the biggest postural problems that exists in the GAA rank and file is a forward shoulder/ head posture. More than likely caused by lots of sitting, slouching, and pressing exercises. Be able to crank out 20 horizontal rows to make sure that them back muscles are still awake and doing their job of making you look like a force to be reckoned with.


This Article is By Ainle Ó Cairealláin MSc CSCS