Significance of Tennis Fitness Training Components

For a tennis player it is imperative to incorporate fitness components into training. Where tennis training is about learning the right technique for ground strokes, volleys, serves etc.; tennis fitness is to improve your footwork, cardio, speed, reaction, core, strength & power. In order to gain the best results, you will need to do tennis training and tennis fitness altogether. Both are required for all level players, be it a beginners or an expert. A well planned tennis training program helps a player in becoming more efficient and proactive on the court.

There are several components of tennis fitness training that are very helpful for tennis players of all levels to achieve the required swiftness, reaction, force and power for the sport.

Agility Training: Once the level of tennis becomes higher working on the specific movements to rapidly change direction becomes crucial. This is where agility training comes handy. It provides the ability to rapidly change direction, without losing speed, balance, or body control. Agility training helps a player to focus on his tennis footwork technique and strength to become much more efficient while carrying out strokes on the court.

Strength Training: This is the next important part of training for tennis. Strength training helps players to become more powerful and explosive on the court. A strong player is one who is able to hit the ball harder. Apart from power it also improves the ball control. Proper stroke mechanics can be easily learned if the muscles and joints are strengthened. Another important reason that strength training is now imperative for competitive players is that it helps protect against injuries.

Flexibility training: This is another important part of tennis fitness training that needs to be done every day after practice. Flexibility is defined as the range of motion about a joint and its surrounding muscles during a passive movement. An accurate flexibility level allows the players to reach balls in extreme positions as well as helps them to prevent injuries that could occur while playing.

If you want to become a professional tennis player, and reach your maximum potential, a tennis training program alone, is not enough, both tennis fitness as well as tennis training are required.

Individualized tennis training fitness program, should incorporate all the following areas, eg. strength, agility, cardio and flexibility. At a high level at least 1/3 of the total practice time should be devoted to fitness training for tennis. One of the biggest mistakes made by tennis players is stop training for fitness during tournaments. It is very important to do a minimum in order to maintain the current fitness level. Following a correct tennis training fitness program is a must for players who want to excel at every level of the sport.

Soccer-Specific Strength and Fitness Training – Warm-Up, Stretching, and Flexibility

An adequate warm-up program is an important part of any stretching and flexibility regime. The right balance of warm-up and stretching an integral part of any soccer-specific strength and fitness training program. Injury prevention is a crucial consideration and and important reason for an individualized warm up, stretching, and flexibility program. Prior to initiating a workout program, a routine soccer practice or a match, the soccer athlete must be warmed up and have stretched for a period of between 15 and 30 minutes, not only to reduce the risk of injury, but to improve training results and match performance.

The proper warm-up routine has several important elements. The elements of a properly structured warm-up and stretching regimen must be integrated into a holistic strategy designed to properly engage all of the various muscles of the body in such a way as to be ready for peak performance prior to the workout, practice or competition. Every muscle and muscle group must be working together and fully warmed up in order to reduce the chance of injury, regardless of whether it is due to stress, strain or trauma.

Why is warming up so vital to the overall success of a training program?

Proper warm-up before training is important for a number of reasons and is responsible for a myriad of benefits. The properly designed warm-up routine prepares the athlete, physically and mentally, for peak performance and for strenuous, physical and mental exertion. While there are many reasons for this, the most important may be the fact that warm-up increases the body’s metabolism and core temperature. As a consequence of an overall increase in temperature, there is accordingly an increase in the temperature of the various muscles involved in training and competition. Increased muscle temperature, and the associated increase in blood flow, allows for muscles that are ready for strenuous activity, being oxygenated, fully fueled, and supple. Additionally, the warm-up will also have a positive, overall cardiovascular effect, increasing both heart and lung function and allowing for more complete delivery of oxygen and energy-providing nutrients to the musculature during periods of peak demand. Once again, this has a ripple effect and the connective tissue, so at risk during periods of strenuous activity, to be warmed up and prepared for activity prior to the workout or competition. The latter is vitally important, as many sports-related injuries are connective tissue based, as in ACL injuries!

How to Develop a Warm-up Program for a Soccer-Related Strength and Fitness Training Program

There are several factors and considerations that come into play when designing a soccer-related strength and fitness training program. Along with diet and nutrition, warm-up, stretching, and flexibility are crucial to the overall success of the program. For that reason, we will spend quite a bit of time on the proper warm-up design and integration in this article.

It goes without saying, or should anyway, that it is very important to begin with the simplest and gentlest movements and tasks first. The idea is to move from one motion and movement to the next, an overall build taking place, and once again a ripple effect leading to a fully engorged and oxygenated musculature prior to strenuous activity. The process of easy to difficult, slow to faster motions and activities, each building and compounding upon the other, fully engaging the athlete’s body and optimizing performance regardless of the task involved.

The body, if properly engaged and warmed up, will be at its mental and physical peak prior to strenuous activity and the demands of soccer-related performance, whether for strength and fitness training, practice or match play. With the body at peak readiness, optimally engaged mentally and physically, the likelihood of soccer-specific, sports-related injuries will have been minimized and the soccer athlete can continue into the training or the competitive area fully prepared. The next step, now that we understand why…is how!

The Four Components of an Effective Soccer-Specific Strength and Fitness Training Warm-up

The first stage is a general, overall warm-up program. The second stage is static stretching and differs from the third stage, that of soccer-specific stretching and warm-up. The fourth stage is dynamic stretching, stretching used to engage and involve the entire musculature, synergistically. The four components are equally crucial to the overall success of the program, one building upon the other, all equally vital. The components come together, in very much the same way as muscles do, synergistically, all four working in unison to prepare the body, physically and mentally; and, also preparing the soccer-athlete for whatever is to come. Once again, this process is designed to ensure the soccer-athlete has minimal exposure and consequently risk of sports-related injuries.

Stage One: Overall and General Strength and Fitness Training Warm-up

The overall, general warm-up consists of mild, minimally demanding physical activity. I recommend jogging, no faster that a brisk walk, generally for 400 meters or one-quarter of a mile. We then jump on the stationary bike, increasing the intensity and duration from a low tension setting and a duration 2 minutes, to a high of medium range tension for up to 20 minutes; and, in winter we start off with the stationary bike. The level of difficulty and the length of time on the bike is usually determined during testing and is determined by the soccer-athlete’s overall level of fitness. A good indicator that the athlete is starting to warm-up is a moderate sweat and perhaps an elevated heart rate and respiration. The heart rate and respiration are usually tracked by chart at the onset of the program and then weekly; this will help in establishing overall training results, and also will aid in watching for signs of overtraining.

The primary goal of stage one is to increase the pulse and respiration, an indication that blood and oxygen are being moved at a faster rate through the body. As stated, increased heart rate and respiration will thus increase blood flow to the muscles and provide for oxygenation and energy supply to the muscles during strenuous physical training. The increased blood flow and nutrients to the muscles also helps elevate the overall body and muscle temperature; and, this in turn will provide for a better static stretching stage.

Stage Two: Stepping it Up and Static Stretching

Stage two is the static stretching phase and is really the basis for overall flexibility. Given the importance of the static stretch, and of flexibility in general, it is always interesting how few soccer-athletes engage in it…or any other stretching routine for that matter. Static stretching is slow, easy, and constant stretching of the various muscles groups and is usually quite safe; and, it is a very efficient and effective means of achieving overall flexibility. The biggest issue with stretching is in the form and the carry out, how the stretches are actually carried out. The proper way is in a long, ballistic-free motion, one of constant and applied pressure to a specific muscle or group of muscles. If done properly, the static stretch is very safe and quite beneficial. During the second stage of the warm-up and stretching program, the static stretch must include the various major muscle groups, working from largest to smallest muscles groups and then back again. The entire regimen will generally last from five to fifteen minutes, at first; and, taking somewhat less time as training progresses.

In order to properly stretch the muscles during the static phase of stretching, the athlete’s body must be in a position in which the muscle or muscle group is under constant, applied tension. To begin with, the muscle or muscle group to be statically stretched is relaxed. Additionally, the opposing muscles are also relaxed. The opposing muscles consist of those muscles “in front of” and “behind” the target muscle or muscle group. Then, carefully and with deliberation, the athlete slowly and carefully places the body under pressure, with emphasis on the area to be stretched, increasing overall tension to the muscle, or muscle group. At the point of greatest tension, the stretch is held in place, allowing the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to stretch and, when possible, to lengthen. This stage of the soccer-related, strength and fitness training program is extremely effective in advancing flexibility. Stage two assists in lengthening muscles and tendons, and in a synergistic fashion impacts ligaments too. The static stretching allows for a greater degree of movement and range of motion. This stage is crucial in sports-related injury prevention, as it, once again allows for a strengthening, as well as the aforementioned lengthening of muscles and tendons.

Stage one and stage two form the foundation for what will follow. The first through fourth stages form an overall and effective soccer-specific warm-up and stretching program. The overall warm-up and stretching program thus laying the basis for the training to follow. It is crucial that the first two stages be completed completely and in the proper fashion before increasing the intensity and moving into stages three and four. The correct implementation of stages one and two will provide for safe and effective exercise in stages three and four.

Stage Three: Soccer-Specific Stretch and Warm-up

Generally, if the focus of the warm-up and stretching was on practice and match play, we would now move to paired stretches and various warm-ups designed to be competition-specific. However, because this is primarily focused on strength and fitness training for soccer-athletes, we usually up the level of the stretching to include another round of static stretching, followed by a number of isotonic-related stretches. The primary focus in stage three must be inside out, largest to smallest and back in. That is, for the upper body a series of stretches including the back, chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps, forearms, wrists, and hands. The neck is very important and great care must be taken when stretching the neck for obvious, and not so obvious reasons. The neck has a number of very small muscles and muscles groups but, as Woody Hayes once pointed out to me, “as the neck goes, so goes the body.” While Coach Hayes is obviously a legendary football coach, but his lesson was not lost on his student (yours truly). The neck should always get special attention and, as a soccer player, the neck plays so many roles, its importance cannot be overstated. After the upper body and the neck, the lower body is next. Included in the lower body are stretches for the gluteus maximus and minimus, the hips, quadraceps, hamstrings, calves, ankles, and feet. Finally, the abdominals must be focused on, and they get special attention because, like the neck, they are a determining factor in the overall performance of the body.

Obviously, the stretching program can and often does take up an entire workout session, particularly at first and until the routine is set. There are myriad stretches available and any number of them will suffice. However, if you would like to have a personalized program, one effective and designed just for you, you must engage the services of an experienced, and knowledgeable (they are not always the same), strength and fitness coach, one experienced in dealing with soccer-athletes, in particular.

By the time the athlete has completed stage three, he or she should be perspiring and their heart rate and respiration should be significantly elevated. The idea is to integrate the warm-up and stretching into the overall conditioning program is such a way that it has a number of cascading affects and effects on the body of the athlete, all with one thing in mind, optimizing overall development and match performance gains. In other words, it is my desire to see them be able to put it on the pitch!

Stages Four: Soccer-Related Strength and Fitness Training, Warm-up and Dynamic Stretching

Ultimately, the proper warm-up must culminate in a series of exercises known as dynamic stretching exercises or simply as dynamic stretches. Significantly, dynamic stretches often result in injury. The main reason for the high incidence of injuries due to dynamic stretching has to do with athletes who are not trained properly by coaches who are experienced in working with soccer athletes, or athletes in general, or the athletes themselves simply do not adhere to training guidelines. For the reasons stated above, dynamic stretching should only be engaged in when training with a competent strength and fitness instructor; and, not just someone who likes to work out and thought it might be a great business to get into! Dynamic stretching has to do with what I refer to as neuro-muscular coordination and is about muscle conditioning, rather than simply flexibility, as the name would seem to imply. The dynamic stretch regimen is usually designed and best suited for top-level amateur and professional soccer-athletes, those individuals who are well-trained, and are highly-conditioned, competitive athletes. A dynamic stretch routine is usually implemented as a final, ultimate step in a flexibility program adhered to for quite some time and it is obvious to trainer and trainee that the “next-level” is appropriate.

Dynamic stretching usually involves controlled movement, a bouncing or pendulum motion, forcing the muscle beyond its normal range of motion. Gradually and over time the degree of bounce and the range of the swing is heightened and increased to achieve an exaggerated range of motion and enhanced flexibility. The best example of this done in an incorrect fashion may be when young athletes attempt to stretch their hamstrings, one foot crossed in front of the other, bouncing up and down to stretch the biceps femoris. Done in this fashion, the young athlete may cause a micro-tearing of the hamstring and risk serious injury. But they see others do it and they model the behavior. A recipe for disaster…or at the very least a blown hamstring! During stage four, it is crucial that the athlete integrate dynamic stretches that are soccer-specific. Stage four the culmination of the soccer-specific, warm-up, stretching and flexibility program and will result in the soccer-athlete achieving peak mental and physical preparation prior to training and/or match play. At this point in the training session, the trainee is prepared for the what will come next, the rigors of an intense soccer-specific, strength and fitness training program.

Finally, the most neglected aspect of any training regimen, the warm-up and stretching, must come first. Without adequate preparation, both physical and mental, the soccer-athlete cannot hope to achieve peak performance and optimal training gains. The four stage training program is a workout in and of itself and will generally take between twenty-five and forty-five minutes to work through. As the trainee becomes used to the routine, its system and its rigors, the amount of time it takes to get through it is lessened. Interestingly, as time lessens, intensity increases…but so does the fitness level of the athlete. So, when integrating and off-season, soccer-specific strength and fitness training program into your training routine, it is imperative you recognize the importance of diet and nutrition, combined with a proper warm-up and flexibility regimen. With the above two components in place, we are ready to move on to the next ingredient, the actual soccer-specific strength and fitness training program.

Fitness Training – The Secret of Success in Tennis

Tennis has changed as compared to a few years ago. To excel in this sport, a tennis player needs to undergo extensive fitness training to improve footwork, speed, strength and performance. In order to out-stand the cut-throat competition, tennis players need to follow a tennis specific fitness training program that will help give them that slight edge on court.

Let us have a look at how tennis fitness training assists a tennis player in climbing the success ladder:

Types of Fitness Components

Tennis is a very diverse and complex sport. If you are serious about being successful, training for tennis should address all fitness components, rather than just focusing on court drills, or running fast. Depending on the time of the year, (pre competition etc.) on an average a professional tennis player should dedicate, 30% of the total work time, to an effective tennis training program. A good fitness program will include strength training, agility training, power training, speed training, aerobic / anaerobic training, core training, balance training, coordination training and flexibility training. For a tennis player to make and see an overall improvement in their game, the key is to address all these individualised fitness components with correct intensity and load.

Develop Overall Strength

Up and coming young tennis players need to work more on developing strength, core, and balance. They need to focus on some basic full-body strength exercises, which will help them gain speed and flexibility.

Players who feel weak, and slow around the court, should dedicate more time on agility, and reaction drills and overall strength. This can help you feel lighter and quicker around the court, placing minimal stress and load on the body, thus reducing injuries.

Tennis is a sport that can last for hours, so tennis players need to have a high energy level as well as persistence. Many players will notice the benefits and a marked improvement in their level of strength and power endurance, deep into the last set, after following a specific tennis fitness training program.

Prevent Injuries

Range of movement exercise’s and keeping the body supple should be one of the main focuses with all tennis players. They should incorporate stretching as an important part of their tennis fitness program. Self- myofascial release exercises are also very important, as this will help maintain a healthy muscle. Performing tennis exercises regularly, not only helps in overall performance, but also helps, prevent and reduce injuries within tennis players. Doing some stretching exercises everyday after practice will boost muscle flexibility, this would further decrease the risk of injuries in the future.

The Perfect Solution

Often players can be seen giving excuses that they can not give time to training due to their tight schedules and continuous tournaments. A perfect solution to this is to perform a 20-30 min (Starter) tennis fitness workout prior to your regular tennis practice. Over time this will not only help improve your level of tennis fitness, but these starter workouts will have you warm, get your feet moving, and have you ready to go for the start of each practice. (no more wasting 10mins of your court time). If you can do these starter workouts 3-4 times a week, prior to each practice, you and your coach will be surprised how much more effective your time on court will be.

Bodybuilding Devolved From Healthy Fitness Training

Introduction

Bodybuilding, lovely as it is, negatively evolved from health practices and fitness training exercises that ancient civilizations used to keep fit. Professional bodybuilding reaches a glorious termination when a bodybuilder holds the statuette of MR. Olympia, modeled in honor of Eugene Sandow, the father of modern bodybuilding. Nevertheless, before Sandow came by, core bodybuilding exercises had been in practice for centuries among the Greek, Indians, Egyptians, Africans, Americans and many other communities. What Sandow and his followers did was to corrupt those healthy fitness exercises into an entertainment sport.

How did this happen? Let us go over the devolvement eras and see the divorce process of bodybuilding from healthy fitness training exercises.

Health Based Weight Training Era

Weight training was an ancient general athletic activity in many communities. The weight training exercises and equipments used varied, but the intent was similar, amplifying body health and strength for personal reasons. In the ancient Greek and Egyptian societies men initially trained to keep physically fit, agile and strong. They primarily used huge stones to seek bodily development into healthy physiques.

At this time, every man had to seek strenuous physical activities daily as a means of ‘staying a man’. These were combined with supremely healthy diets and natural herbs. There was never any need for physical display as a goal of engaging in the physical fitness exercises.

In India, by the 11th Century we had stone dumbbell weights (locally called Nals) lifted by men who wanted to enhance their physical health and stamina. Note, the most important aim was to help the men overcome numerous challenges that daily activities presented. By the 16th century, physical training gyms became commonplace in the India region and health based weight training, an India’s national hobby.

Health Based Strength Training Era

Soon enough however weight training lost the noble intention of health and stamina and slowly emphasized physique development. Still, the exercises were not meant to develop the body for show but for strength in strongman competitions. This was a healthy dimension too since strength was built up in healthy practices that included proper dieting and daily physical activities.

Nevertheless, the idea of thrilling crowds gradually crept in as men engaged in amazing feats of personal strength. Professional strongman competitions saw weight training intensify from primitive stone lifting practices into psycho lifting sessions within dark dungeons. The physical fitness and strength training practice became hugely popular across Asia.

Although onlooker amusement had crept into the training goals, the exercises were still within the precincts of fitness and body health. Some examples of the fitness exercises included pulling carts, running with weights, lifting animals etc. The physique definition still did not matter.

Bodybuilding for Display Era

For a long time (between 16th and 17th Century) Asians and especially Indians, learnt the essence of training and dieting to develop the body for display purposes. Strongman competitions gained an exhibitive edge and competitors started removing their clothes. The practice was similar across the world communities. Celebrating the human body’s muscular development became a prominent Greek ideal during this time. By the 19th Century, physical exercises were no longer for strength or stamina.

Weight training took on a totally different meaning from the ancient tradition of health based fitness training. New training system evolved and the goal became displaying physiques for entertainment purposes. Europe exacerbated the physical display culture where body symmetry became the aesthetic goal of training and not health or physical fitness. It was this culture that the 20th Century Eugene Sandow met and perfected. Modern bodybuilding where muscle mass display and definition overtook health conscious physical training had been born.

Modern Bodybuilding Era

Modern bodybuilding can be traced perse to around 1890s when Eugene officially crafted a body display sport as a profession. He is thus rightly famed as the grandfather of modern bodybuilding. He was a phenomenon hit as a pioneer in muscle mass and strength accumulation. The competitive sport gradually grew to exclusively feature the best muscle mass in total disregard of physical fitness or of the healthiness of the individual’s practice while gaining that mass. That is the tradition to which we were born and to which some still live.

Muscle Craze Era

Within the modern bodybuilding era, there was three decades that were so profound that they deserve a special mention. Beginning 1960 and up to 1990, muscle mass generation became the greatest craze that ever hit the bodybuilding industry. Anabolic steroids became a staple. Despite the anabolic steroids being grossly dangerous to health, they were used in their tons if only to gain an inch of muscle.

Bodybuilding Health Era

Luckily, we have awoken to the fact that gaining muscle mass and strength should never have to compromise on our health or our physical fitness. There is no reason why I should loose my kidney just to gain a marvelous bicep. Acne, cancer and the hundreds of other side effects of steroids can never be borne just because you want some muscle mass.

The current era in bodybuilding, emphasizes on an individual who trains natural, trains hard not just for muscle but also for a comprehensively healthy body. The idea is to be masculine, healthy and physically fit. Bodybuilding training is slowly returning into the shoes of the primitive art where health and fitness are the driving goals of bodybuilding training.

There is a link between a bodybuilding lifestyle and optimal health. Once an individual strikes that link, he or she attains optimal physical fitness as a by-product. With the right information, you can easily set up a training regimen that is centered on bodybuilding health. From this program, muscle mass and strength will accrue and with it physical fitness.