When training for your sport it is important to incorporate an overall fitness program. This helps develop a sound base for your athletic activity. This routine is carried out over the entire year during the off-season, preseason, and season. Throughout the off-season you develop muscular and aerobic endurance while during the preseason and season you focus on muscular strength and explosive power. By including the focus areas under this sequence of training over the year you create a foundation for overall sport fitness.
Static stretches are done to maintain flexibility of the muscles. They should be performed away from the field of play or after a complete practice as part of the cool-down. Each stretch should be held for 20 – 30 seconds and should not be performed to the point of pain or injury. These stretches include the hurdler’s stretch, the calf stretch, and the chest stretch, etc.
Training the core muscles helps the spine be stable and stay in a neutral position. Both local and global muscles make up this system of stability. Local muscles are found attached directly to the spine. They are trained for endurance and help stabilize the spine. Global muscles are not typically attached to the spine directly. They are trained for strength and help perform movements of the arms and legs.
Resistance training is a type of strength training in which your effort is performed against a specific force you are resisting. This opposing force can be a push, squeeze, stretch, or bend. If you are moving your body part against the force then it is called isotonic. If your body part is holding still against the force then it is called isometric. The goal of resistance training is to develop strength and size of your skeletal muscles through progressive overload. Your muscles and bones get stronger over time when you provide a gradual resistance. Full range of motion is necessary because this muscle overload occurs only at the specific joint angles where the muscle is worked. This type of training will provide functional benefits for your sport and improve your overall strength.
Cross-training is also referred to as conditioning and involves different ways to improve overall performance. The goal is to combine various exercises to work different parts of your body. It helps work many muscle groups at one time. When you are showing signs of overtraining or need a break from your routine it is a good idea to add in cross training days. Good examples of exercises are jogging, cycling, and swimming.
Interval training is considered repetitions of high-intensity/speed work followed by periods of low activity or rest. It is very effective in building up your cardiovascular endurance to make you a well-rounded athlete. It can be done on a stationary bike, running, rowing, or anything that allows you to be at near-maximum effort followed by low-intensity activity. Walk-back sprinting and Fartlek training are effective interval exercises.
Circuit training is a type of interval training where you combine strength exercises with endurance exercises. You train both cardiovascular and strength areas by combining these training areas. The concept of ‘circuit’ means you are working a group of activities, typically at stations set up in a large area. You move from station to station quickly. Each station will include either a resistance exercise (i.e. bench press, rack squat), body weight activity (i.e. push-ups, jumping jacks), or other exercises that work strength and/or endurance. Each station can be set up for a certain number of repetitions or a time limit.
Weight training is a type of strength training that is commonly used to develop strength and size of skeletal muscles. You use the force of gravity through weighted bars, dumbbells, or weight stacks to oppose force. This force is produced by your muscles through concentric or eccentric contraction. Concentric contraction is when the muscle is shortened with movement while eccentric contraction is when the muscle is lengthened with movement. In weight training you use many types of equipment specialized to target specific muscle groups and types of movement.
These stretches should be performed after an adequate warm up. Many of these stretches can be performed with track hurdles (about 6 – 8). If you do not have access to this type of equipment it is still effective to imagine the hurdles are there. The goal of these stretches is core flexibility, especially in the hips. These include stretches like good mornings, forward walk, and lateral lunge.
Olympic movements help develop power, speed, and strength. These lifts include the clean and jerk, the snatch, and different variations of these two. The goal of these exercises is to accelerate a weight from a position below the hips to a position above the hips. This movement relies on major muscle groups of the hips, legs, and core to generate the needed power to accelerate the weight. These muscles help stabilize the lower body and maintain proper alignment throughout the exercise. Be sure to work with a strength and conditioning coach that is qualified to teach these exercises.
Plyometrics are characterized by a lengthening of the muscles followed by a powerful shortening of the muscle. This activity increases athletic performance by enhancing your ability to generate power. During this type of exercise you use your core muscles to accelerate the body through space and absorb shock when you land. Examples include box jumps, bounding, and medicine ball chest throw.
You will need sprint training in almost all sports to develop explosive power for quick movements. Your core muscles are used to stabilize your trunk during this movement and assist quick and powerful leg and arm actions. A speed workout is specific to the sport but can be a short as 5 meters or as long as 800 meters, depending on your goals for sport.
Agility is the ability to change the position of your body quickly. It requires a combination of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, and strength. This common skill needed for sport uses the core stabilizing muscles during change of direction and absorb while you slowing down.
Sport Specific Training
Training exercises specific to your sport are needed to training your body how to perform. It is important to spend a good amount of time on this so you are ready to compete. Ask your coach for some sport specific exercises to get you ready for the season and to train during the season.
Training for overall fitness prepares you for the wear and tear of your specific sport. An off-season routine that includes muscular and aerobic endurance develops a foundation. While a preseason and season program that includes muscular strength and explosive power trains the elements you need to excel at your sport. Developing this fitness over the entire year is the key to being fit for competition.
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