Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sport Specific Weight Training

If you're involved in a sport or athletic pursuit, you want to get the most out of your workouts, right? I mean, if you're a cyclist, you don't want to spend a bunch of time spinning your wheels (pun intended) doing routines meant for bodybuilders. Weight training is an important component of your exercise routine regardless of your sport – sport specific weight training just means that the training program is specifically designed around your sport for maximum results.

Every sport involves the use of different muscles and uses those muscles in different ways. If you're a long distance runner who's decided to train for a triathlon, you're in for a bit of a shock the first time you get on that bike or jump into the pool. And not just from the shock of the cold water! Nope, what you'll find is that those highly trained muscles of yours may not be so highly trained after all. Well, they are… but only for the specific activities you put them through on a regular basis.

Picking up a new sport often means training a whole new set of muscles. So if that's your thing, be patient with yourself. It can be tough for someone who's used to excelling to go back to square one. But don't sweat it. Pretty soon that old muscle memory will kick in and you'll be back on top of the game.

Specificity is the key

There's actually something called the principle of specificity. All it means is that the training you do should take into account the movements that your sport requires, and mirror them as much as possible. In its simplest form: If you're a runner, don't spend all your time in the gym on the rowing machine. Duh. Oh, and putting in excessive time trying to get that oh so hunky (NOT!) Incredible Hulk physique can work against you.

Where it gets a little more complicated is actually figuring out the particular demands of your sport and learning how to fashion a training program that will optimize your performance. Complicated for you, that is. But not for a good personal trainer (c'est moi)!

That personal trainer (ahem, me again) understands the science of sports specific training and can make sure you get the most out of each workout. I (or some other wonderful trainer) will find the right balance among the different types of weight training and put together a set of functional routine that let you work smarter, not necessarily harder.

No Pain, No Gain? NO WAY!!

A couple of general training tips and cautions, whatever your sport:

• It shouldn't hurt. Really. Hey, the old Jane Fonda "feel the burn" thing is long gone. Get with the times! It's about working within your limits and progressing at a pace that allows your body to adjust. Yeah, you want to feel like you're working hard, but not like you're about to pass out or get a hernia.
• B R E A T H E! Yep, breathing's a good thing. Deep and steady. Keep that oxygen flowing. You might be thinking, "So what? Breathing's natural. I couldn't stop if I tried." Well, more often than you might think, people tense up and forget to breathe properly during periods of intense focus or effort.

The Final Word

So, think about your sport, the movements you make and the muscles you use. Your sport specific weight training routine should complement your sport. And if you could use a little help figuring out how to do it, you know where to find me.

In Health & happiness,
Tanya Morrell