A quick list of workouts to try this offseason:
These workouts are designed to hit multiple muscle groups. They are athlete specific workouts which will make you stronger, faster, and more agile.
There is nothing more natural than running. Sprinting is part of our nature. What I like about sprints is discovering what type of speed I have. Try to notice where your fast points and your slow points are. Is it the start? The finish? The middle? Evaluate your sprints and work on your weaknesses. Your goal is to become strong all the way through. It helps to be fast in any sport. Stretch and warm-up well before and after your sprints.
Squats are great for overall body strength. It works your lower and mid body, putting stress on the quads, butt and lower back. Start with light weight and work your way up. If you are new to them, go very light and work on your form. Build your strength gradually by doing high repetition workouts. 12 is a good number to shoot for. It is also a good idea to have a “spotter”, or someone who can watch to make sure your form is correct.
Similar to squats, deadlifts work the legs and back. The most important thing is to keep good form by keeping your back straight and chin up. Lift with your legs, not your back. Start light, and if you cannot keep good form, go lighter. Shoot for 8 repetitions, and find a spotter if it makes you more comfortable.
Lunges are used often in racquetball and essential for your game. A proper lunge is when your legs form a 90 degree angle without touching your back knee to the ground. Make sure your front shin is straight up and down and that your back is straight. This helps your balance when hitting a low shot. Try 20 lunges each side. Extra weight is not necessary. If you work on good form and balance it will be a much better workout. Do them slow and remember to breathe.
Pushups are not easy, but they are the easiest workout to do. As long as you have a floor, you can do pushups. Pushups are also something you can do almost every day. Try doing 5 sets of up to 20 pushups. You will notice that you improve quickly. They work the chest, triceps, shoulders and core.
Another easy workout to accomplish. All you need is a bar. Works forearms, biceps, shoulders, lats and back. They are also easy to do every day as a routine. Try doing five sets of up to ten pullups. Go all the way down until you are hanging, then all the way up so your chin is over the bar. Stay in control and don’t get off balance by swinging or kicking.
Another easy workout, all you need is the floor. Hold yourself in a pushup position for at least 20 seconds. Try up to a minute. It helps to do it in front of a mirror to make sure your posture is good. It may seem easy at first, but after 20 seconds you will start to feel it working a lot of muscles. You can also do side planks, which is a bit more advanced, targeting one side of your body. Side planks should be done in less time then regular planks because of the difficulty. Side planks put more stress on the shoulder, so make sure you’re ok to do it. If not, no worries, keep working on the regular planks.
I have mentioned jumprope a couple times before. It is a workout used in training by many athletes and many sports. It helps agility by strengthening your ability to stay balanced and on your toes. Try doing one minute straight and work your way up to ten minutes. Mix it up by doing one foot at a time or other combinations.
A new one to me. I have been doing yoga for about six months and I love it. What I have noticed most is:
*Flexibility: Everyone has problem areas as far as flexibility. Yoga helps balance your body out. It is painful at times, but it’s a good pain.
*Core strength: Yoga targets your core in order to strengthen your back. I have woken up very sore from yoga many times, almost always in the core area.
*Feel younger: Because yoga helps loosen you up, it really brings you back a few years. Back pain is something most of us have, whatever the cause might be. In my experience, when I do yoga often, I am more energized and feel better, which helps a lot when training. That is probably the biggest difference I have noticed. It truly makes you feel younger.
Another workout I have mentioned a few times is the agility ladder. If you have not tried it yet, or are serious about improving your agility, you need to get a ladder. Similar to jump rope, it targets the muscles that are used for staying balanced and on your toes. If you get a ladder, I recommend youtubing some videos on agility ladder training. There is some good stuff on there.
Another easy workout to do. Also one that you should work up to. Start slow if you are new to running. Jog for a mile and work your way up to three miles. The goal is to be able to run competitively for about 20 minutes. Once you are able to do that you can start pushing yourself to exhaustion. The same goes for running as the other workouts, keep good form. Back straight, chin up, don’t drag your feet and stay focused. I like to listen to music, think about racquetball and time myself when I run. I helps me stay focused and push the pace.
Happy improvement, everyone!