Workout of the Month: Track, Field & Court Sports

Success in sports like sprinting, football, soccer, tennis, basketball and the like relies on one or more of the following performance skills: power, speed, agility and reactivity.  So, this month’s workout will have a mix of power, speed, agility and reactivity drills for the upper and lower body followed by a stretching regimen to promote flexibility in the muscles most taxed by these drills.  Other Workouts of the Month follow a traditional circuit strength and flexibility training format.  But performance drills by nature incorporate a cardio component, making this workout a fantastic calorie burner as well.

Words of Caution: Performance training is the highest level of strength training there is.  This workout is not meant for people who are not regularly participating in a competitive sport or already strength training at an advanced level.  Also, plyometrics are not recommended for people who have joint issues, including ankle, knee, hip, spine/neck, shoulder and elbow.  If you are unsure if a previous injury precludes you from this type of workout or if you’re considering these exercises for the first time, consult your physician before incorporating this workout into your routine.

Activity-Specific Workout of the Month Defined: A 30 minute strength and stretch training workout tailored to benefit those who engage in a particular recreational sport or activity.  The workouts will be challenging and safe for the novice but will also offer progressions for the experienced.  If your children participate in these activities, know that strength and flexibility training is not only safe for kids but beneficial as well.  The workouts will have minimal equipment requirements so they can be done anywhere.  The goal is to properly strengthen and stretch the key muscle groups involved in the activity so the participant can achieve performance improvements and reduce the risk of injury.  Click on the exercise to link to examples and step-by-step descriptions provided by www.acefitness.org.

Performance Training & Stretching for Power, Speed, Agility & Reactivity

Concept: Each drill is designed to train one or more of the four performance skills.  Most drills are specific to the lower body, which would include all four skills and are necessary in all sports.  There are also drills for upper body to train power for activities involving racquets (like tennis), swinging (like baseball and golf) and throwing (like pitching and quarterbacking).  Therefore you can select from the drills here based on their training targets to best suit your needs.  I recommend selecting a total of 4 drills per workout.  Following the performance workout is a flexibility workout that targets the largest muscles of the body involved in performance training – quads, hamstrings, glutes, upper and lower back, and chest/shoulder muscles for upper body power training.  Perform 1-3 of these workouts per week, allowing at least 48 hours between workouts.

Levels: If these types of exercises are new to you, you’re at Beginner level, even if you workout at high levels in other forms of exercise.  If you have some experience with performance-based training exercises – such as CrossFit, HIIT, Tabata or Advanced Boot Camp – you can begin at the Intermediate level, particularly if the Beginner level doesn’t feel challenging enough.  The Advanced level should only be done if you already do performance-based training exercises regularly or until you progress through the Beginner and Intermediate levels over time.  The amount of training it takes before progressing from one level to the next varies from person to person and is dependent upon a number of variables, including how often and consistently you perform these exercises.  Though, it is not recommended that your perform more than 3 per week – always on non-consecutive days.  Generally speaking, it is not uncommon for the average amateur athlete to take anywhere from several weeks to several months to progress levels in performance training.

Performance Workout

Select 4 of the following drills at the appropriate level.  It may be that you progress through some drills faster than others.  It is perfectly okay, and likely, that you will be able to perform some drills at Intermediate level and others at Beginner level, for example.

Lower Body Plyometric Drills: Trains leg power

Select 1 or 2 drills at the appropriate level; for each exercise you select, perform 3 sets of 6 repetitions per set, resting 60-90 seconds between sets

Upper Body Plyometric Drills: Trains arm/shoulder/chest power; partner assisted exercises also train reactivity

Select 1 or 2 drills at the appropriate level; for each exercise you select, perform 3 sets of 6 repetitions per set, resting 60-90 seconds between sets

Agility Drills: Trains both agility and reactivity

Start with drills at your current level, travelling 5-10 yards per set.  Progress to 20-30 yards per set before progressing to next level.  Return to 5-10 yards per set after leveling up, progressing up to 20-30 yards per set.  In all cases, perform 1-3 sets with 3+ minutes rest between sets.

Arm Speed Drills: Keeping arms close to body and elbows bent at 90 degrees; perform explosive arm drive motions back and forward (as though you are moving arms in a power-walk motion.) Keep torso to minimal movement. These can be performed kneeling or standing.  Perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions per arm, resting 1-2 minutes between sets. (credit: ACE Trainer Guide)

Leg Speed Drills: Perform 1-2 sets of 20-30 yards per drill.  Rest 3+ minutes between sets.  Drills should be performed with a slight forward lean. (credit: ACE Trainer Guide)

  • Beginner: High Knee: Drive each knee high as you walk, skip or slow jog forward; arms should also drive as though in a sprint
  • Intermediate: High March: Drive each knee high (as in beginner phase) but when knee reaches highest point, kick foot out in front of you as you walk, skip or slow jog forward
  • Advanced: Butt Kick: As you drive knee high in front of you (as in beginner phase), bend knee to have back of foot hit butt, then propel foot forward as you extend knee; aim to have mid-foot make contact with the ground.  Be sure not to swing knee behind you.  Practice movement standing in place before progressing to walking, skipping or slow jogging.

Flexibility Workout

Perform all of the following stretches as the conclusion of your drills; hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds, perform on right and left side:

Author’s Note: Always consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program.

Click on the link to view previous Activity-Specific Workouts of the Month: Hockey & Cross-Country Skiing, Snowboarding & Figure Skating, Golf & Softball, Distance Running, Racquet Sports, Swimming, Waterskiing & Surfing, Cycling, Rowing & Desk Jockeys, Track, Field & Court Sports, Throwing & Pitching, Dancing, Downhill Skiing

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