Fitness: Sport Specific Conditioning

Monthly Theme:  Sport Specific Fitness

Probably the single biggest mistake that fitness professionals can make is to choose the wrong type of exercise for their client.  Whether you are an athlete or not, everyone needs to do a minimum of 600 hours of exercise every month – that’s a lot of time!  In order to make the most of that time, you need to utilize the proper quantity of exercises, the proper frequencies, the proper intensities and perhaps most importantly, you need to choose the proper types of exercises that will help you reach your goals.  In the end, a runner needs to run, a skier needs to ski, and a golfer needs to golf to get good at what they do.  If you.

Improving your fitness will help you reach your physical goals, but only if the fitness activities you choose mimic the demands of your sport.  For example a golfer needs to be strong, stable and flexible for full body twisting movements and in the stabilizing muscles of the shoulders, spine and hips.  Exercises for a golfer should be focused on these movements.  Tiger Wood’s old trainer is popular for having him run and workout with a weighted vest – this gave him strength endurance in the lower body and hips for tasks like running, jumping, and climbing hills but it did very little for his golf game in my opinion.  In fact, it may have even done harm by increasing wear and tear to his knees and other lower quarter joints.

So what types of exercises should you choose?  Here are some examples of how strength exercises can be made more specific for different sports:

-A runner would strengthen their legs with primarily lunging and stepping movements, not squatting movements

-A golfer would strengthen spinal rotation with cables and they would ensure a complete range of motion so that the exercise preserves or enhances their flexibility.

-A footballer would put bands around their feet or other resistance to their lower legs to create endurance and strength in their hip stabilizers.  They would also utilize high-speed foot work drills combined with power drills like jumping and sprinting.  All of these fitness components would have to performed in high volumes to create endurance for playing long periods of time.

The sport specific principle can be utilized for everyone:

- A mom could perform deadlifts, squats and upper body strength exercises to aid in their ability to lift things and manage active children at home.

- A fireman would stop doing bench press and start doing more full body pushing activities like resisted push ups or cable presses that require more stability in the shoulder.  They would train with ropes, dumbells, kettlebells or other devices that challenge grip strength, shoulder stability and strength at the same time.

- If you are someone who wants to gain weight and build muscle, your exercises should focus on using large muscles groups, and several muscle groups at a time.   Bicep curls will not get you quick weight gains - squats, Olympic lifts, lunges, step ups, sprints, jumps, dips, pull ups and the avoidance of aerobic activity will help you build muscle without having to quit your day job.

Hopefully this discussion of sport specific training has helped you think about how you can choose better types of exercises.  You don’t have all the time in the world to work out and take care of your health, so make sure you make the most of it with exercises that suit your own specific needs and make the most of your precious time!