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Getting Fit for Summer Sports

Spring fever has hit! That means many of you are looking forward to heading outside to hit the golf course, the basketball court, the baseball or soccer field. But before you step one foot out on the green, court or field are you ready? Yes I know you’re ready mentally, but what about physically?  Are you in shape for summer sports?  This is very important especially for people who have been cooped up inside all winter. Start an Exercise Program-Now! The first thing you need to do before you participate in any sport is make sure you are working out on a regular basis.  A good regular exercise program will increase your physical fitness and help reduce the chance of injuring yourself.  Your program should include strength training and cardiovascular exercise.  Then you can move on to more intense conditioning with plyometrics. Make the most our of your cardiovascular exercise program you should keep your heart rate elevated for an extended period of time. (see chart below)  The best way to do that is through repetitive activities such as walking, jogging, cycling or using machines such as the elliptical trainer or a stepper. Use the F.I.T. (Frequency, Intensity, Time) principle to determine what is best for you. (see chart below)
  • Frequency: You should try to do cardio at least 3-5 times each week.
  • Intensity: You should strive to maintain a target heart rate between 70 and 80% of your max heart rate. Use the formula below to determine your range.
  • Time: Each of your cardiovascular workouts should last for 30 to 60 minutes or more.

HEART RATE INTENSITY FORMULA 220 - Age =    Max HR Max HR x .7 =    Low end of range Max HR x .8 =    High end of range

The second part of your exercise routine should be resistance training.  This is the best way to build muscle.  Try to do two to three sets of 10-15 repetitions for each muscle group. Plyometrics Now if you want to put some power behind your conditioning, try plyometrics. This type of exercise is used by many athletes to increase their speed and strength. The exercises were developed for Olympic competitors to make a muscle reach full movement as quickly as possible.  During each exercise your muscle will reach its concentric contraction (muscle shortens) immediately followed by an eccentric contraction (muscle lengthens).  Then the force of each exercise will increase. Here are some examples of lower body and upper body plyometric exercises. Lower Body:
  • Drop Jumping- For this exercise you will drop-not jump-to the ground from a raised platform and them immediately jump up.  The drop down gives the pre-stretch to the leg muscles, the intense jump up causes the concentric contraction.  The exercise is more effective the faster you do it-meaning the shorter your feet are on the ground. Start slow and then build up to 3 sets of 10 drops.
  • Bounding-  This exercise will help with your speed. Push off with your left foot and bring the left leg forward. Your knee should be bent and thigh parallel to the ground.  At the same time you’ll reach forward with your right arm.  As the left leg comes through, the right leg extends back and remains extended for the duration of the push-off.  Hold this extended stride for a brief time, then land on your left foot.  Make sure you’re landing flat footed and you feel the energy pumping through your leg. The right leg then drives through to a forward bent position, the left arm reaches forward and the left leg extends backward.  Think of it as a slow, exaggerated run.  You want to make sure each stride is long and cover as much distance as possible. Do 1 to 3 sets covering 30 to 40 meters each set.
  • Hurdle hopping- Jump forward over barriers or hurdles with your feet together.  The movement should come from your hips and knees.  Another form is with one leg.  Push off with the leg you are standing on and jump forward, landing on the same leg, then immediately jump again.  Do one leg then switch and do the same thing with the other leg.  Do 1 to 3 sets jumping 6 to 8 hurdles each set.
  • Jumping- With a box in front of you, start in a deep squat with your feet shoulder width apart.  Keep you arms behind your head and jump onto the box.  Stay in the squat position and then jump off.  Do 1 to 3 sets jumping up on the box 6 to 8 times per set. You can also jump without a box.  Start in the standing position, then jump up grab both knees as they come up to your chest and return to the standing position-then immediately jump up again. Do 1 to 3 sets with 5 to 10 repetitions per set.
Upper Body:
  • Clap push-ups- Begin in the push up position then lower your chest to the floor, explosively push upward to cause your hands to leave the floor, clap and put your hands back on the floor, then immediately explode upward.  Do 10 repetitions.
  • Medicine Ball- Lie on the ground face up, a partner drops the ball, you catch it and immediately throw it back up to your partner who drops it again.  Do 10 repetitions.
Specificity is key! Think of the movements you perform in your sport and condition your body properly.  If you’re a basketball player jumping and bounding plyometrics are areas you should concentrate on.  For golf, upper body plyometrics and stretching are important.  But remember, it takes overall full body conditioning to avoid a sport injury. Start your program now to be ready for the fun and games this summer.

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