Many athletes train the day before a competition to prepare mind and muscles to achieve superior performance. John Shepherd finds out more

Pre-competition day workouts are sometimes called Tonus sessions. This partly reflects the idea behind such workouts, as they prepare muscle tissue (tone) for the specific challenge the athlete will face in the subsequent day’s competition. Often sprinters, throwers and jumpers in particular will lift weights and potentially add some plyometrics to create the desired tonus.

Desired tonus can also be created by specific massage. Consequentially, some athletes will use specific types of massage to prepare their muscles for competitions.

To make the notion of tonus clearer, let us consider a massage. If a sprinter, for example, were to have a muscle relaxation massage the day before a competition then their muscle tone might not be right for a high-powered effort the following day. So, it is important that athletes do not have similar relaxing massages prior to comps or during them (in most cases) due to the potentially detrimental effects on performance.

It can be a similar warning for creating tonus using resistance training methods. A lot of preparation and knowledge will need to go into finding out just what will work.

Some athletes will only do strides, drills and mobilising exercises the day before a competition, while others will rest completely.

Rest can restore energy to the body and allow muscle fibre to recover and become more explosive. However, the objective behind tonus sessions is to prime the athlete to perform better than they would (even if they did nothing before the competition) through the creation of specific muscle tone.

Some coaches will have different tonus workouts before different competitions and where there are qualifying rounds and finals – and even variance with types of qualification (in other words, the time between qualifying and the final).

An athlete who uses such tonus variation is long jumper Ivana Spanovic (pictured). Her coach Goran Obradovic explained his methods at a European Horizontal Jumps and Sprints Symposium in Sweden and it was interesting to see the way that tonus was created for the Serbian athlete.

Her tonus before a single competition would include sets of half squats, half squat jumps and plyos and, in a second set, full squats, half squats, half squat jumps and plyos. The loadings would be intense as well in terms of weight on the bar where applicable. This indicates that the jumper is well trained in the weights room and uses heavy loads regularly.

It is important that athletes prepare optimally for competition and this applies to what they do the day before a competition. The only way to work out what will be effective is to experiment in training first. Don’t try out new ideas the day before a competition.

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