Spring is just a couple of weeks away and people are itching to hit the links and diamonds. Now is a good time to begin training your body for the matches and games ahead. This Workout of the Month focuses on improving strength and flexibility to get production out of your swings. An added bonus: this workout is great for baseball pitchers and quarterbacks too.
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.
Strength & Flexibility Workout for Swinging Sports
Concept: Primary strength targets are the arms, shoulders and core (especially the obliques) with secondary targets of chest, upper back and hips. Because swinging affects the body’s entire kinetic chain in a twisting motion, flexibility training is very important for the abdominals, back and hips. The warm-up is designed to elevate the heart-rate while providing muscular endurance and power training exercise for the upper body. Progressions are intended to be increasingly challenging so you can continue to build strength throughout the season. Be sure you can master the base exercise and each subsequent progression with excellent form before advancing to the next progression. Perform this workout 1-3 times per week, allowing a minimum of 48 hours rest between workout sessions, starting several weeks before and continuing throughout the season:
Warm-Up: 5 minutes of punching moves: Assume a boxer’s stance and continuously punch arms straight forward at shoulder height, alternating left and right arms, for one minute; for the second minute, alternately punch diagonally across the body at shoulder height while pivoting on feet; for the third minute, punch straight above head, bending slightly at the waist away from the punching side (when you are punching up with the right arm, your torso will bend at the waist toward the left side); for the fourth minute, punch diagonally above the head and slightly forward, pivoting on the feet; for the final minute, perform high knee marches while swinging arms up to shoulder height. Progression: Hold light hand weights (1-5 lbs) throughout the warm up. If you can’t do the entire 5 minutes of warm-up without stopping to rest, your weights are too heavy.
Strength Workout: Perform the following 5 exercise circuit in succession with no rest between exercises:
- Push Ups on Knees: 10-20 repetitions. Strengthens chest, arms, shoulders and upper back. Progression 1: Straight Leg Push Ups: 10-20 repetitions. Progression 2: Push Ups with Leg Lift: 10-20 repetitions.
- Dirty Dog: 10-20 repetitions each side. Strengthens hips, glutes & core. Progression: Standing Gate Openers: 10-20 repetitions each side.
- Crunches: 10-30 repetitions. Strengthens abdominals, progression concentrates strengthening on the obliques. Progression: Bicycle Crunches: 10-30 repetitions each side.
- Downward Dog: 10-20 repetitions. Full-body strengthening with emphasis on shoulders & arms. Progression 1: Inchworms: 10-20 repetitions. Progression 2: Mountain Climbers: 10-30 repetitions each side.
- After performing each exercise once, rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat the circuit (side plank through downward dog) for a second set of each exercise. After performing the circuit twice, perform the flexibility workout.
Flexibility Workout: Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds
- Standing Chest Stretch: exercise provides progression for deeper stretch
- Overhead Triceps Stretch: stretches arms & shoulders
- Standing Triangle Straddle Bends: stretches back, waist & outer thighs
- Cobra: stretches core
- Leg Crossover Stretch: opens up hips & stretches obliques, back & thighs
The keys to safe and effective strength training are the same regardless of gender or age – proper warm-up, form, breathing, load, progressions and stretching. The cues for these exercises provided by ACE Fitness (via my links) are excellent and, if followed, anyone can perform this workout safely, even a novice. It’s important to focus on your own body’s feedback and listen to the cues your body is providing you. Adults are much better at reading those cues than children are. For this reason, if any of these exercises are new to your child, I recommend having a professional (such as your child’s coach, gym teacher or sports trainer) review the proper form for each of these exercises with your student athlete.
Start this workout now and you’ll be in tip top shape to swing away when the greens and fields are finally open.
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