Editor's note: This is Part 2 of a three-part series on fitness and conditioning with trainer "Big Mike" Montarvo, of the Omni Club in Evans.
In the first installment, we discussed the importance of proper eating habits. Now, we will move on to a couple of essential parts of any workout program for a serious athlete. While this information will benefit anyone, remember that we have designed the information in this series to fit the high school or college athlete.
Stretching is a must
For any athlete, it is vital that proper stretching is performed before any athletic competition or practice. Stretching is a type of preventive care. It helps to reduce the chance of pulls, strains and tears. It is especially useful in preventing hamstring and quadriceps injuries.
Stretching can also reduce cramping, which is prevalent in the heat during early-season football games. Athletes can dramatically improve their flexibility by being diligent when it comes to properly stretching on a regular basis. A more flexible athlete also is quicker and has better leaping ability, agility and footwork. Therefore, stretching, while essential in preventing injuries, can also help improve an athlete's performance.
For endurance athletes, such as distance runners, proper stretching can prolong activity before soreness and tightness affects the muscles. In addition, athletes who have persistent hamstring problems likely will face back troubles as they get older. So young athletes can cut down on injuries now and limit discomfort as they age.
1. Begin with a light jog (approximately 5 minutes)
2. Perform long stretches, holding the stretch for 20 seconds
3. Avoid the hurdler stretch (while sitting on the ground, with legs straight out flat on the floor, you bend one leg behind you while forcing your torso down toward your outstretched leg). This puts too much force on the bent knee.
Here are some sample stretches that get Montarvo's stamp of approval:
1. While standing, keep legs straight and cross one leg over the other. Bend over and touch your toes. Crossing your legs stops you from bending your knee while stretching, and it incorporates the calf.
2. The old standby: Sit on your bottom with your legs flat on the floor. Reach out and touch your toes.
3. Tandem stretch: While lying flat, raise one leg. Keep the leg straight and have a partner push the leg back, and as the stretch ends, the toes can be pushed back to work the calf.
Hip and Lower Back
1. Figure Four Stretch: Lie on your back and bend one leg 90 degrees. Pull your knee and ankle together, bend over toward the opposite shoulder, and hold for a good stretch.
Most athletes have heard this term, but you would be surprised how many do not know what it means. It is fairly simple. Plyometrics are basically exercises that combine speed and power, such as box jumping, jump squats and bosu burpie pushups. For a great demo, go to www.womenshealthmag. com/fitness/bosu-burpie-pushup.
Plyometrics use rapid movement, both vertical and horizontal, and emphasize bursts of power. Generally, they are done by using timed exercises rather than a certain number of repetitions.
Plyometrics benefit young athletes by improving the vertical jump, horizontal jump, reflexology, burst off line and footwork.
They will also improve 40-yard dash times, reaction time and overall explosive power. This is a must for football players participating in high school, college or professional combine workouts.
While athletes will see improvement in key areas for their sport, plyometrics can benefit anyone. These are high-intensity workout sessions that will help you burn a tremendous number of calories.
Again, this information is geared specifically for high-level athletes, but it can be designed for anyone.
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