As a super active person, you incorporate fitness into almost every aspect of your daily life. Odds are you have participated in many different physical activities and have likely gone to various fitness classes at your gym or recreation centre. Your focus now should be on keeping your energy level high and maintaining your enthusiasm for working out.Take time to remember why you work so hard every day to stay healthy and make sure you reward yourself for all you do. At this point in your training, you need to start doing the small things that will help you improve. Your focus should be on activities that increase your speed, strength, flexibility and balance.
Professional coaches and trainers customize weight training to the activity to ensure maximum results. For example, tennis trainers recommend lower weight and higher repetitions to increase speed and agility while maintaining flexibility (tennis superstar Andre Agassi credits weight training with his dramatic comeback two years ago!). Baseball players increase the distance of their home runs by training with heavy weights and fewer reps. Less weight and more reps are better for golfers, who need both flexibility and quick muscle movements to power their drives. Think about the skills you need for your activity of choice and weight train accordingly. One weight training ‘must’ for athletes of every kind is stretching! Fifteen to twenty minutes of stretching following weight training will help prevent injury and keep your muscles and joints loose.
Pyramid Weight Workouts
If you already use the weight room on a regular basis and have a routine already laid out, consider changing things up a bit. A pyramid workout uses your muscles in a new way and is a great way to add a new dimension to your weight workouts. Pyramid workouts tax your cardio system more than traditional weight training as you are doing more sets and reps. This will help to increase your energy levels during workouts as you do more of these workouts. For an effective pyramid workout you need to establish what your light weight, medium weight and heavy weight quantity is. Then do:
- Set 1 - 14 reps, light weight
- Set 2 - 12 reps, medium weight
- Set 3 - 10 reps, heavy weight
- Set 4 - 12 reps, medium weight
- Set 5 - 14 reps, light weight
This type of training is considered advanced and as a result is not recommended for novice or beginner lifters. And remember to always use a spotter and/or spotting equipment with this workout.
Being a super active person, you understand the importance of having a strong core (lower back and abdominal muscles). A stronger core helps to improve your balance, stability and total body strength. While you may already have different exercises you do to improve your core, you should consider activities that you wouldn’t normally do such as Pilates, yoga or workouts involving medicine balls and balance boards. The goal here is to continue the exercises you are currently doing while mixing it up so your mind stays motivated for the task at hand.
Interval workouts, in which you work 90-100% effort for a short period of time, will help you stay in your target training zone and strengthen new muscle groups. Each interval should be one that will bring you to a high level of exertion followed by a recovery interval in which you catch your breath. For example, you could run 1 lap around a track at 90% effort, rest for 3-4 minutes and then repeat the process 4-6 times. Always remember to add new elements into your workout plan slowly and gradually. If you increase your workouts significantly all at once, you put yourself at risk for injuries.
Many treadmills have built-in interval training features. Treadmill intervals can last 30 seconds to 10 minutes. The shorter the interval, the tougher it should be – you should be out of breath after a one-minute interval. Recovery intervals usually last 1-5 minutes and are typically easy enough to allow you to catch your breath. Some treadmills increase the difficulty of their intervals by changing the incline instead of, or in addition to, the speed. A 1% incline simulates running outside. It replicates the wind you face outside and the actual effort needed to push off with your foot, propelling you forward. Running on a treadmill with no incline is a bit easier than running outside as the belt on the treadmill acts as an aid to run faster. Repeat intervals 3-10 times depending on the length of your workout and include a 5-minute cool down period. Don’t have access to a treadmill? Don’t fret – you can easily run intervals on the road, trails or on the sidewalk.
Cross training keeps your workouts fresh and makes sure you are constantly targeting new muscle groups. Try to add different activities to your training. If you are a swimmer, add a day of running; if you are runner, add a day of cycling and so on.
Don’t forget the double benefit of introducing group sports to your regime. Not only are you incorporating a different activity but you will meet new people with similar interests and goals! With your level of activity you can introduce any activity that strikes your fancy. There are even employment opportunities that include high levels of activity such as ski instructor or white water rafting guide.
Plyometrics are a great way for you to increase the speed of the movements that are necessary in the sport or event you are training for. Plyometric drills are repetitive, stripped down drills that zero in on the core movements needed in a sport or event. They are designed to produce fast, powerful movements that help to improve the functioning of your nervous system. Some examples of plyometric drills are:
Squat jumps: You start in a squat position and explode up with your arms, stretching your whole body out. This is good for most track and field events, as well as sports that require good take-off speed (i.e. hockey, football, etc.).
Overhead throws: With a straight back, raise a medicine ball back behind your head and throw it towards a wall,catching it on its return. This is a good drill for most racquet sports and others that focus on upper body strength (i.e. volleyball, wrestling, etc.).
Since plyometrics are very sport-specific, special consideration must be given to which drills you are doing. Do not try to come up with your own routine as you could over exert yourself or work the wrong muscle grouping. Talk to a professional (coach, fitness trainer) to develop an appropriate routine for you.