Improving Sports Performance In The Gym
Going to the gym is fantastic to reach your own potential in terms of strength, endurance and/or speed. You can also use the gym to increase your performance in specific sports. Working and fixing your routine around improving your ability to play football, rugby, tennis, swimming is all possible within the gym so that when you go out and play your sport your body will go further, jump higher, tackle harder and/or last longer. the trick is knowing what to do.
In every sport there are major movements of the body, specifically in joints; for example in tennis the shoulder joint is used a lot. So when thinking of how one can improve one's tennis performance when not on the court, think of exercises that focus on the shoulder joint a lot. This is the process by which we target specific parts of the body we would like to improve. With every sport it's about how parts of the body work under stress and most of the time constant stress. Therefore using the gym will simulate for you and your body stress that can be similar in its basic form to the specific sport you are playing. This doesn't mean that the specific exercise has to follow the exact plane of movement of your sport, all you need is to be exercising that part of the body a lot.
With almost every sport the trick is to be flexible in specific areas of the body and to keep that flexibility and the power over a long period of time. With other more fast-paced, longer break power sports one would simply just use the free weights section. However flexibility and durability are what the gym can help with from the most basic to a more complex form. In the article 'The Muscle Durability Factor' on the TDL Fitness website we describe how important flexibility and durability are to almost every sport out there. The gym can target the specific muscles, planes of movement and those two important factors very easily.
When it comes to selecting your exercise for your sport think of how you move in that sport and think how can you apply resistance to that movement. In football the most basic movement is kicking the ball (shockingly). From that you can think to yourself the main movement in its most basic form; pushing your leg from behind you to in front of you. The main muscles used are the quads and the hamstrings with some fixator muscles to help. Quite simply you can replicate the kicking motion by using the cable machine in which you strap the cable to your ankle with some weights and simulate the kicking motion under resistance form the weights on the cable machine. There is one very simple example. Explore what exercises you can do with the sport you play and think 'how can i add resistance?'
You will soon discover when exploring that with most exercises from sport is that the cable machine is the 'go to' apparatus for you and that is to be expected. For a lot of people the cable machine isn't used much unless to help improve for sports due to its functionality and varied options in terms of exercises from it. As long as your gym has a cable machine you are able to exercise for sport. With this simple luxury you can play around with the cable machine and even explore more options and perhaps even more sports! You might try the kicking exercise explained above but might think that tennis is a good idea and start incorporating whood-choppers into your exercise routine. The opportunities people! They are out there.
With most exercises for sport a very big clue to what you should do is not so much in the direct movement in the sport but the opposite. Instead of practicing the motion with the resistance making that movement harder; try going the other way. For example with the kicks explained above, why not go negative? Instead of looking forward and kicking with the weight dragging your foot back, face backwards with the weight forcing your leg forwards and try to kick behind you. This is called negative repetitions because it is an exercise down backwards essentially. The reason behind this is to exercise muscles used in the process of kicking for example that perhaps aren't used as much as the main muscles in the sporting movement. Doing this directly increases the flexibility and the durability of the are of the body you are working on. An avid fan of tennis and wood-choppers are your thing? Instead of starting with your arms pointed down and resistance going up, start up and push down! There you have not one functional exercise but two functional exercises that increase durability and flexibility in one! Isn't this exciting?!
Explore how the gym can make your sporting movements better and increase your body's ability to cope under specific stress. If you are able to get into the routine then not only will it motivate you to go to the gym but it will motivate you to go further in the sport you are in. Whilst the gym is limited in a certain degree of not being able to improve hand-eye coordination, it can help the body in many other ways including the ability to delay muscle fatigue, increase your natural bags of energy and the ability to play your sport for longer at a top rate until your focus and your body start limiting your ability to give 100%.
Use this as a motivator and a reminder that going to the gym is great for health and well-being but it's also good for functionality. There's so much exercising can give you and being smart and picking the right things to do is one of the main elements to living and playing healthy and happy.