Squash preseason fitness testing protocol

squash greg

Why test pre season?

The simple answer is to find out what kind of shape you are in physically before you start the season and identifying any physical weaknesses that may need addressing. The problem with trying to work on physical attributes during the season is that they can often be time consuming and tiring. If we can identify these problem areas quickly we can work on them when we don’t need to be worrying about fatigue during matches. It also allows us to have something to compare against at a later date to gauge progression/regression or maintenance.

Fitness testing background-squash

To see an advanced fitness program used by professionals follow the link below to the Squashfit homepage

=>Click here

It has been suggested that squash players require a mixture of speed, agility, and power combined with medium to high aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Thus, successful performance cannot be defined by one predominant physical attribute; more like an interaction of several physical components and metabolic pathways.

It is important that the player/coach/team obtain objective information about physical performances to clarify the objectives of training, plan short- and long-term training programs, provide objective feedback and motivate the player to
train harder.

Matches will provide the best test for an athlete, but in an athletic activity as complex as squash it is difficult to isolate the various components within the sport and get objective measures of performance.

Thus, fitness testing can provide relevant information about specific parts of the sport .Moreover, specific training programs can then be designed based on the players’ fitness testing results. From a practical point of view, the goals of testing are to enhance a player’s performance (i.e., providing individual profiles of their respective strengths and weaknesses), reduce the risk of injury and design an appropriate training program.

To see an advanced fitness program used by professionals follow the link below to the Squashfit homepage

=>Click here

The tests (these are basic so that we can do them simply and safely)

*get a check up if you have an underlying medical condition which may be aggrevated by intense physical work. Warm up before undertaking any of these test and you are undertaking them at your own risk.

Do not under any circumstances do all of the tests at once. The best way to do them is to choose either 1. 2. or 3. and maybe then a couple or all of the others with a 5 min break in between. The idea being that you get a feel for how your cardiovascular system is functioning and then some agility/power or muscular endurance test which tax a slightly different system.

  1. 50 end to end court sprints. Record the time taken to complete all 50. The front and back wall must be touched with each repetition.


Image result for court sprints


2. 3 km run. Get on a treadmill and run the 3 km as fast as possible record the time   taken to complete and a finishing heart rate if possible.


Image result for treadmill sprints


3. 3 km row, as above really- row the 3 km as fast as possible record the time taken to complete and a finishing heart rate if possible.


4. Max number of press up completed in 2 minutes. Record the number at the end.


5. Hold the plank for as long as possible. Record the time until you can no longer hold this position with good form.

Image result for plank


6. Max number of squats completed in 2 minutes. Record the number at the end.


Image result for bodyweight squats


7. The star drill. Mark out 8 points in the court touch each point moving as quickly and economically as possible (you may want to ghost a shot at each point before moving on) try and go around twice or more times if you like and record the time taken to complete total repetitions. ignore the 5yards!

Image result for star agility test


8. The Burpee test. Complete as many as possible in 2 minutes and record the number at the end of the test.

To see an advanced fitness program used by professionals follow the link below to the Squashfit homepage

=>Click here

Test record sheet (remember to choose which tests you are doing and dont do all of them).


Below are some basic averages done by county standard players.

Row 3 km 11-15 mins

Court sprints 18-22 per min

Run 3km 9-16


Test 1 2 3 4 5 6
50 end to end court sprints
3 km run
3 km row
Press ups completed in 2 minutes
Plank for as long as possible
Max number of squats
The star drill
The Burpee test












KarboLyn The Best pre run Carbohydrate drink?



For me getting my carbohydrates in when im training or running can sometimes be a problem, dextrose leaves me with a horrible crash afterwards, maltodextrin gives me a head ache if i have too much of it, fructose is ok if  mixed with maltodextrin but again my stomach has never been the strongest and too much of any of them always leaves me feeling nauseous.

A struggle i have had is finding something that works from a fuelling point of view as i train alot in the gym, on the squash court and obviously i run. I was recently looking at Myprotein’s selection of endurance products as they are always pushing discounts and i came across something called Karbo-. Sounded like a stupid name which is what initially caught my eye, i clicked the page and opened it up.

The info presented about the product looked good, they are selling it so it was hardly going to read badly and i have brought stuff before that looks good in principal but in reality performs average at best. But i have to say i have used it 6 times so far and on the whole the product has performed well.

The early morning long run was becoming a problem as my marathon prep milage was increasing. Heading out at 5am meant i was struggling to get enough calories in before i went out and as i approached double figures i was just running out of steam. After the Karbo-Lyn arrived i mixed 30g scoop into some water and drunk it down, bit sweet, not really sweet though, but not great. I mixed another 30g into my water bottle with some electrolytes waited 30 mins and ran out the door.

I have been performing solidly since, no bloating or nauseous feeling afterwards, my energy is much better on the whole and i am back upto 15 hilly miles. No revelation, no massive spike or buzzed up caffiene feeling, just a clean burning fuel that has been specifically designed to do exactly for purpose. It has worked post run mixed with some protein really well, the recovery has been spot on.

This is from the Myprotein site just the bare facts really.

Nutritional Information

Per 100g Per Serving *RI
Energy 1700 kJ/400 kcal 510 kJ/120 kcal 6%
Fat 0 g 0 g 0%
of which saturates 0 g 0 g 0%
Carbohydrates 100 g 30 g 12%
of which sugars 0 g 0 g 0%
Protein 0 g 0 g 0%
Salt <0.01 g <0.01 g 0%


What is Karbo-Lyn®?

Karbo-Lyn®is a patented carbohydrate sourced from starch and contains very unique properties. It is a homopolysaccharide carbohydrate which means it is made up of many monosaccharide’s joined together by glycosidic bonds. Karbo-Lyn®passes through the stomach very quickly and it acts like a pump, pulling water and nutrients along with it.

Benefits of Karbo-Lyn®

Karbo-Lyn®has a high osmolality and is completely sugar free. To create a fast absorption through the stomach, the molecular mass has been uniquely manipulated making it have an uptake much faster than dextrose or Maltodextrin but without the added bloating effect.

Who is Karbo-Lyn®Suitable for?

Karbo-Lyn®is ideal for anyone looking for a source of carbohydrates before or after their training or competition. It is also suitable for anyone looking for a non-sugar based carbohydrate prior to endurance or ultra-endurance based events or for recovery after resistance based exercise. Due to the fast uptake of Karbo-Lyn®, it is recommended to consume this immediately following your exercise.

We recommend consuming 50g of Karbo-Lyn®either before, after or during your exercise. However, this will depend on your specific training goals and the type of exercise you are undertaking.

Nutrition recommendation

Carbohydrate loading: If you are wanting to use Karbo-Lyn®for a carbohydrate loading phase, we recommend to consume 1 serving (50g) with a high carbohydrate diet every 2-3 hours in the day leading up to your event.

Pre-race: We recommend consuming 1 serving of Karbo-Lyn®2-3 hours prior to your race for optimal results.

Post-race: We recommend consuming 1 serving of Karbo-Lyn®immediately (<1hour) following your race. Take a following serving 2-3 hours following this alongside a high carbohydrate diet.


Click here to see the product I’m talking about.



 You may also be interested in this article

Top 3 natural sports drink alternatives

Periodisation for squash: how to effectively phase your leg training to ensure you have the strength, power and endurance when you need it.

squash greg

Many of us players from amateur through to county and obviously as professionals employ some sort of training plan, or do something outside of the court, to improve our ability to cope with the demands of the game. There are loads of ‘systems’ in place to provide a framework to peak when it counts but very little information on what to specifically do at different points in the season to make sure that your legs are adequately adapted to what you are trying to achieve at that point.


This is a very basic model presented here to give an idea of how to put something together, there are lots of other components such as energy systems, upper body, core, balance, nutrition and much more detailed plans available that go into much more depth, the purpose is to demonstrate an over view of a simple format.

I’ll give you an example of how not to do it. We can can take an exercise to build strength in the quads, glutes hamstrings and lower back: the barbell squat.squat

We start with 60kg for 3 sets of 8 reps of this exercise in the off season, done on 2 days of the week, to condition and strengthen our legs and progressively work upto 80 kg for 3 sets of 10 reps by the time we are ready to start the season. We have also been increasing our on court work with sprints and ghosting sessions to sharpen our movement. As the season starts we only squat once a week because we want to be fresh for our matches. But  then we start to notice that our legs seem to feel heavier and less coordinated, we cant push out of the lunge properly, cant get down to the ball low enough and generally we seem to be fatiguing quicker than before even though we are stronger. This process of over training and fatigue can take weeks to recover from if continued for long enough.

The problem being that we have made our legs adapt to something that is not specifically related to what we require from them on court. Squash requires strength up until a point but it also requires power and endurance and they are not trained in the same way as general strength training and this is where a:

Periodised Approach to your training would have allowed you to arrive fresh and ready for your season.

In a competitive phase you shouldn’t generally be doing strength work to increase your general size and stregth of your legs, it should be maintenece of the power and power endurance you have been building up in the weeks leading upto the season.

A periodised model in its basic form looks like this:


It can be as complicated as this for professional athletes:


But for the average player it is important to get some idea of how to put together something in each phase so that your legs are firing correctly and that they are ready for competition.

By definition Periodisation is ‘the systematic planning of athletic or physical training. The aim is to reach the best possible performance in the most important competition of the year. It involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period.’

A Training plan would in theory look like this:

General Preparation 3-4 Weeks

All exercises perform 3 sets of 10 reps  with loads of 50-75 % of 1 rep max



Hamstring Curls

Standing Calf Raises

Specific Prep 3-6 weeks

The exercises should change to start to mimic what you will be trying  to use during a match. Looking to start to build greater recruitment of more powerful muscle fibres.

All exercises perform 3 sets of 4-8 reps  with loads of 80-95 % of 1 rep max

Dumbbell Clean and press

Single legged dead lift

Bulgarian split squat

Step Ups

Pre Competition 3-6 weeks

In this phase we are looking to further develop power so exercise reps are between 2-5 and sets of no more than 3 and loads of 95 % and above.

Barbell Snatch

Lunge and twist

Split Lunges

Competition (early part done 2 weeks prior to start of season)

In th phase we are looking to add power endurence so often body weight or 40-50% of 1 rep max will be enough resistence and working powerfully and dynamically and for time rather than reps so 10/20/30 seconds for 1 or 2 sets is enough.

Jump squats

Split lunges

Lateral Bounds (speed skaters)

Lateral Lunge

This phase could be completed again at intervals throughout the season where breaks permit as could the other phases with much shorter periods to ‘top’ up fitnes levels as the season progresses

By manipulating the different variables to draw out different elements from the legs we should be able to arrive much fresher than if we just try to keep adding weight and becoming overly fatigued.


Squash performance nutrition and recovery


The game of squash by definition, regardless of level, is a high intensity intermittent activity. Heart rates of competitive elite players can reach levels exceeding 90 % of their maximal values and VO2 scores in excess 0f 85 %. Matches at any level can last from 40-90 minutes with recovery between points (10-20 secs) and games (90secs) relatively short.

Fuel substrates utilised during matches tend to lean toward carbohydrate metabolsm see image below for fuels used at different exercise intensities:


Intensity % HRmax % Carbohydrate % Fat
65 to 70 40 60
70 to 75 50 50
75 to 80 65 35
80 to 85 80 20
85 to 90 90 10
90 to 95 95 5
100 100 0

Carbohydrate stores, muscle and liver glycogen ect, will directly effect performance during matches so there are definite strategies we can employ to maximise our performance on court.

There are also so some extra little nutritional tricks we can take advantage of to delay the onset of fatigue or speed up our recovery from matches and training.

I will outline 3 key areas and what to consume during each

1. pre match

2. during match

3. post match

Pre match

Leading up to a competition, you should be tapering your training (doing less training) and continuing to eat foods rich in carbohydrate with moderate protein intake. On the day of competition, if you’ve followed the above instructions, all the work will be done and your food intake won’t need to be particularly tailored. The most important rule is to keep fat intake low on the day of competition and only to use high GI carbohydrates during exercise.

Breakfast should be wide-ranging in carbohydrate, so breakfast cereal is a good choice, or something like beans on toast without butter on the bread. If you have to eat something in the hour approaching competition, make sure that it’s an energy bar and not a gel or energy drink, because the latter products will lift blood sugar levels and drop them low just before you compete. High GI products are for use during competition/training only.

During match

 60-90grams of carbohydrate per hour using any combination of  gel, bar or energy drink.

Frequent consumption of Exceed energy will provide some fuel, but just as importantly it will provide hydration, because every 1% of bodyweight lost through dehydration will result in a 5% decrease in performance.

Exceed is pretty good choice for an energy drink during see it here

These gels have been well used and reviewed highly see them here

Post match 

Ingest an appropriate measure of Hurricane recovery within 15 minutes of finishing exercise read more about it here  at Myprotein

This will ensure that you are fully restocked with carbohydrate and provide enough protein for muscle damage repair.

But also adding these

Additional 2 products to really drive home your recovery

D-ribose      see it here

D Ribose occurs naturally in all living cells. It is a simple sugar that begins the metabolic process for ATP production. D Ribose works synergistically with creatine and may improve the benefits of this.

D Ribose has been proven to help increase muscular energy, boost stamina, and help recovery. D Ribose is also a very efficient way to improve your energy when working out. It is involved in the synthesis of ATP in the muscle cell giving you greater energy production for longer.

Beta Alanine      see it here

Beta Alanine is a non-essential amino acid and is the only naturally occurring beta-amino acid. Beta Alanine works with L-Histidine to increase Carnosine concentration in the skeletal muscle and reduce lactic acid formation.Ideal for anyone participating in sports that require explosive actions such as sprinting, weight training or boxing and those involved in prolonged endurance exercise

If you fuel yourself properly during training, you’ll be able to train harder and stimulate greater physical adaptation.

Additional products can enable you to fuel yourself whilst you’re exercising, thus preserving your valuable carbohydrate stores and a well-timed recovery drink after exercise will re-stock those stores and re-build damaged muscle tissue significantly more effectively than ‘normal’ food. This will mean that you can finish a hard session still feeling fresh and then go out the following day and do it again.

Poor nutrition would result in a degradation of the quality of your training sessions and accumulating tiredness.

All product links are listed below

Exceed drink

Energy bar

Hurricane recovery

Beta Alanine

D Ribose

Energy gel
If you would like more info on subjects like this enter your details below to receive news and reviews on exercise and recovery nutrition.