Practical movement-focused exercises to improve summer fun
Spring has sprung, which means that it’s time to start considering your summer sports training program. It goes without saying — whether you’re a pro, play in a recreational league or just like tossing the ball around with your buddies in the park — everyone with an active lifestyle can benefit from a performance-enhancing fitness routine.
When planning your spring training, keep it simple by considering your performance goals. What is it that you’re looking to achieve? If the exercises in your fitness regimen don’t mimic the athletic movement and capacity of your preferred sport, you certainly won’t increase your skills. Ditch the non-functional exercises like bicep curls and tricep extensions opting instead for movement-focused exercises that are guaranteed to make you quicker, more agile and certainly more powerful.
Top performing athletes boost their speed and power with plyometrics. Originally developed for Russian track and field athletes, these explosive and dynamic exercises (think jumping) can boost a summer athlete’s performance in virtually any sport. You’ll benefit by jumping higher, running faster, throwing farther and even hitting harder. Plus, plyometrics done in intervals is a sure-fire way to burn fat and keep a lean, athletic body.
Tip: Be sure to do a quick warm-up prior to your plyo session — a five-minute jog will do. If you’ve never done high-impact exercise, start slow with smaller box hops before you try more advanced moves. Reduce impact in your joints by doing your plyometric exercise on soft surfaces.
Plyometric Pushups Start in a standard pushup position. Lower your body toward the ground and then push up with enough explosive force that your hands leave the floor. Immediately lower yourself into the next pushup. Once you’ve mastered a set of 12, try clapping your hands in the air.
Jumping Split Squats From a standing position, take a big step forward with one leg. Drop your knee and hips, lowering your butt to the floor (squat). Explode into the air with a single scissor kick to alternate your foot position in the air. Immediately lower yourself into the next squat. Put weights in your hands for more challenge.
DO THE TWIST
Whether it’s by creating a twisting movement (swinging a golf club or baseball bat) or by resisting one with contraction (think catching a ball or defensive blocking), there’s no doubt that rotary movement is important to nearly every summer sport. Even sports like soccer, swimming and volleyball involve some type of rotation movements and agility for complex change-of-direction play. Another great benefit to these exercises are the tight, rippling abdominals and obliques you’ll earn for your ultimate summer body.
Tip: Your body can benefit from a variety of rotational exercises. Don’t just limit it to rotating at the midsection. Performing exercises that increase your rotary strength in your shoulders and your hips will produce ultimate results both on and off the field.
Side Throws Begin with your shoulders perpendicular to a wall and your feet shoulder width apart. With a medicine ball in both hands (at the hip opposite the wall), rotate while raising your arms, throwing the ball to the wall with enough force that it bounces back for you to catch. Return to starting position and repeat.
Front-to-Side Planks Start by holding your body for 10 seconds on your elbows in a standard plank position with your feet shoulder width apart. Then, beginning with your feet, shift your body into a side plank while keeping your hips and shoulders in line. Repeat five times. To increase the rotational challenge, keep your feet closer together.