Sunday, November 23, 2014

Two Exercises every athlete should do

Sports require athletes to move with speed and power, in all directions.  There are many exercises to help athletes prepare for these demands, and as a strength coach, I am always looking for new ways to keep my athletes from getting bored with the workouts.

I have seen many of my athletes come to me with weak hip flexors and weak core muscles.  These two things can lead to diminished performance as well as potential injury.  So in this article I am going to discuss two exercises that will address these issues an make an athlete not only faster and stronger, but more powerful.  A recent study indicated that even a slight improvement in hip flexor strength can improve linear speed (ie:  stealing a base, sprinting for 100m)

Band-Resisted Hip Flexor Pulls with Hold
The first exercise is the band-resisted hip flexor pulls with isometric holds. This is a simple exercise on paper but can be a difficult exercise to perform.
    *Starting in a position like a Mountain Climber exercise, have the athlete wrap a mini band around his right foot (and anchored at the other end as well) and bring the foot forward keeping the foot off the ground.
    *Ideally you want about 90 degrees or more of hip flexion.
    *Have the athlete hold this position for 3-5 seconds and perform 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.  Switch legs after each set and allow 15-30 sec of rest between sets.
If the athletes' hip flexors or really tight or weak, it won;t take much to fatigue this muscle.  In this case stick with 3 sec. holds and start with 2-3 sets.

Barbell Landmine Rotations
The second exercise is the barbell rotation using a landmine.  If you don't have access to a landmine-style anchor, you can just place one end of the bar in the corner of a wall (place a towel down to protect the wall from getting marked up).  This exercise is one of my favorites for working the oblique muscles and developing stability and strength.  Not only is this a rotational exercise, but more specifically it is a anti-rotation exercise.  What I mean by this is not letting gravity pull the bar down for you during the execution of the exercise.
    *Grab the end of the bar, with the other secured in a landmine or corner of a wall, with slightly bent arms extended overhead.
    *Feet should be placed about shoulder width apart
    *Have the athlete bent his/her knees slightly, and rotate the bar down to the right hip, pivoting the left heel
    *Pull the bar back to the starting position using the oblique muscles (sides of the body) and not the arms.  Repeat by rotating the bar down to the left hip.
    *Repeat for 8-15 reps on each side making sure to control the bar and not let the athlete use momentum to bring the bar back to starting position.

By incorporating these two exercises into an athletes workout program 2-3 days a week, they should begin to notice an increase in linear speed (forward) as well as their shuttle sprints (change of direction movement).

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