Fitness: training tips for spring athletics

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imageIf your workout routine suffered over the weekend—or even all winter long—you can get back in the swing of things for spring, just like Atlanta’s gay sports leagues that are ramping up their spring schedules.

Should all sports participants engage in conditioning programs in the off season to reduce their risk of injury and improve their athletic performance? The answer is an unqualified yes! Boys and girls? Yes.

Strength athletes who play flag football and endurance athletes who play volleyball and run? Yes. Ball handling teammates who play soccer? Yes.

Without question, all young people who compete in fall sports should perform appropriate exercise programs to enhance their physical fitness.

But many of you didn’t. That’s OK.

Of course, training procedures should vary based on the demands of your spring activity. Strength players should emphasize power exercises such as sprinting, and runners should focus on endurance exercises such as three to five mile runs. Likewise, soccer players should include both sprinting and sustained running such as 100 yard dashes and half-mile repeats.

But when it comes to muscle conditioning, I propose that a similar strength training program may be successfully applied to all of the athletes. Oh, there are some differences, such as the number of repetitions completed.

Generally speaking, power athletes respond best to lower (four to eight) repetitions with relatively heavy weight loads, endurance athletes respond best to higher (12 to 16) repetitions with relatively light weightloads, and combination athletes respond best to moderate (eight to 12) repetitions with moderate weightloads.

But when it comes to the exercise selection, all athletes should remain focused on all of their major muscle groups. Regardless of your sport, there is no advantage in having a weak upper body or a poorly conditioned midsection.

Going a step further, training some muscle groups more than others can be a serious disadvantage.

Many people mistakenly believe that strength training inevitably results in larger muscles and more bodyweight. This is not necessarily true. Strength training produces stronger muscles in all cases, but gains in muscle size and bodyweight are very dependent upon personal genetic factors.

For example, most football players have mesomorphic physiques that respond to strength exercise with relatively large changes in muscle size and body weight. On the other hand, most cross-country runners have ectomorphic physiques that respond to strength exercise with relatively small changes in muscle size and body weight.

The heavy weight load—low repetition training followed by football players maximizes muscle strength and size, whereas the lower weightload—higher repetition training performed by cross-country runners emphasizes muscle endurance without additional bodyweight.

The main point is that all spring sports participants can benefit from a standard program of strength exercise, and that the results will be specific to each type of athlete. A stronger athlete in any sport is a better athlete, and more importantly, a more injury-resistant athlete.

image Contributing blogger Troy Meyers is a certified personal trainer and sports conditioner with more than 10 years of experience. He owns Atlanta-based JockBoyLocker.com and contributes to the site’s Lockerroom Blog.

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