Welcome to the second article in our series on how sportspeople can use the gym as a tool for improving their performance. In the first article, we discussed why a hypertrophy routine wasn’t the best option for sportspeople and how their performance could be negatively impacted by some common practices.
Today, we’re going deeper into the subject. We now know what we shouldn’t be doing, so we’re going to look at what we can in fact do to help us significantly improve as sportspeople.
Gym Performance and Sports Performance
If we think about it logically, an athlete could spend 6 months in the gym building strength and return to their sports field with a beastly physique. Nevertheless, the reality is much different.
Sports performance is marked by a number of factors that we can organise into 3 principal areas: skill, mentality and physical capacity.
Skills are very directly related to your sport, and there’s an innate dimension to them too. The term encompasses all the sporting movements made in your discipline and that should be trained outside of the weights room. A header in football, a tennis player’s backhand, a 3-pointer in basketball and a runner’s starting technique are all examples of skills.
Mentality, in terms of sports performance, refers to an athletes capacity to show aggressiveness, concentration, response speed and decision making under pressure. Some sports are more demanding of certain qualities over others, but all can be enhanced through strength work.
And lastly we’ll look at athletic capacity. Here, there’s no argument, if an athlete’s stronger, faster and more agile, then we have have a better sportsperson, but where does weight training fit into the equation?
Load training uses external forces to compromise and test your posture and movement, which are the two basic elements from which you can produce speed, acceleration, jumping and impact. If you strengthen this chain, you’ll be able to unlock your full sporting potential, which is why athletes can benefit from weight training.
A sportsperson needs load work to improve their posture and movement against external forces, however, they can’t forget that sports performance is also marked by mentality and skill. Specific training and strength work can be combined through the season.
Keys for Designing a Performance Routine
Now we’ve got all the context we need, let’s get to it:
What is the basis of our routine?
Multijoint and Full Body Exercises
Our routine should work from a base of multijoint exercises, which are ideal for safely increasing loads and thus building our strength over time. We shouldn’t divide the body into different muscle groups, as it’s better instead to divide it into lower and upper, push and pull, and full-body training.
Generally, we should avoid analytic exercise work. Our body works «everything» on the field, so it doesn’t make sense to create isolated fatigue separately strengthen a range of movements
Unilateral Movements and Plyometrics
As sportspeople, we move using unilateral movements, which is why leg exercises like lunges or box climbs should be part of our routine.
We can benefit from plyometric work using agility ladders and different types of jumps. And the goal is clear: we’re looking to improve our reactive strength.
The core is the foundation for an athlete, as we’ve commented previously, for maintaining a correct posture against the difficulties encountered in any sport, which is why we should include anti-rotational and stability exercises like abdominal wheel or the pallof press.
Strength and Power
We should prioritise low repetitions in strength and power work, between 1-6.
To maintain good movement and posture, we also need a sufficient range of movement for an athlete, so we should look for limitations in shortened joints and muscles, and if found, include a specific mobility program.
In addition to prioritising strength and power work, we can improve our athlete’s mental strength and resistance to fatigue with metabolic work in the gym, following strategies similar to HIIT or Crossfit wods.
A sportsperson’s routine should work the full body with joint movements, prioritising strength, core and unilateral work.In addition, you can add plymetrics, mobility and metabolic work based on the needs and stage of the athlete.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning and that the knowledge I hope you’ve found this learning experience enjoyable and that you benefit greatly from it! If you want more information, you can find me on Instagram and YouTube, see you soon with the third part!