SOFTBALL FLEXIBILITY, STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING
One of the misconceptions in the sports world is that an athlete gets in shape by just playing or taking
part in his/her chosen sport. If a stationary level of performance and consistent ability in executing a few limited skills
is your goal, then engaging only in your sport will keep you there. If you want the utmost efficiency, consistent improvement,
and balanced abilities, top athletes must participate in year round conditioning programs.
The bottom line in sports conditioning and fitness training
is adaptive body stress. Athletes must put their bodies under a certain amount of stress (overload) to increase physical capabilities.
you start any conditioning or fitness training, you should be checked out by your doctor to make sure it's safe for you.
It is best to get advice from someone who is a certified fitness expert and experienced working with teens.
Components of Fitness
Health is a state of complete mental, physical and social well being where as fitness is the ability to meet
the demands of a physical task. Of all the nine elements of fitness, cardiac respiratory qualities are the most important to
develop as they enhance all the other components of the conditioning equation.
Basic fitness can be classified in four main components:
strength, speed, stamina and flexibility. However, exercise scientists have identified nine components that comprise the definition
Ø Strength - the extent to which muscles can exert
force by contracting against resistance (e.g. holding or restraining an object or person)
Power - the ability to exert maximum muscular
contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movements. The two components of power are strength and speed. (e.g. jumping
or a sprint start)
Ø Agility - the ability to perform a series of
explosive power movements in rapid succession in opposing directions (e.g. zigzag running or cutting movements)
Balance - the ability to control the body's
position, either stationary (e.g. a handstand) or while moving (e.g. a gymnastics stunt)
Flexibility - the ability to achieve an extended
range of motion without being impeded by excess tissue, i.e. fat or muscle (e.g. executing a leg split)
Local Muscle Endurance - a single muscle's ability to
perform sustained work (e.g. rowing or cycling)
Ø Cardiovascular Endurance - the heart's ability to deliver
blood to working muscles and their ability to use it (e.g. running long distances)
Strength Endurance - a muscle's ability to perform
a maximum contraction time after time (e.g. continuous explosive rebounding through an entire basketball game)
Co-ordination- the ability to integrate the above
listed components so that effective movements are achieved.
What does it
mean to be physically "fit"? Physical fitness is defined as "a set of attributes that people
have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity" (USDHHS, 1996). Being fit is not defined only
by what kind of activity you do, how long you do it, or at what level of intensity. Overall fitness is made up of five main
Cardio respiratory endurance
Ø Muscular endurance
Ø Body composition
Cardio respiratory endurance is the ability of the body's circulatory and respiratory systems to supply fuel during
sustained physical activity. To improve your cardio respiratory endurance, try activities that keep your
heart rate elevated at a safe level for a sustained length of time such as walking, swimming, or bicycling. Start slowly with
an activity you enjoy, and gradually work up to a more intense pace.
Muscular strength is the
ability of the muscle to exert force during an activity. The key to making your muscles stronger is working them against resistance,
whether that be from weights or gravity. If you want to gain muscle strength, try exercises such as lifting weights or rapidly
taking the stairs.
Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscle to continue to perform without fatigue. To improve
your muscle endurance, try cardio respiratory activities such as walking, jogging, bicycling, or dancing.
Body composition refers to
the relative amount of muscle, fat, bone, and other vital parts of the body. Body composition is important to consider for
health and managing your weight!
Flexibility is the range of motion around a joint. Good flexibility
in the joints can help prevent injuries through all stages of life. If you want to improve your flexibility, try activities
that lengthen the muscles such as swimming or a basic stretching program.
Flexibility is defined as the ability of
a joint to move through its full range of motion and should be one of the most important parts of every athlete’s training
program and yet, it may be the most neglected. Most athletes simply do not understand the benefits of regular stretching and
that a flexible body has a greatly reduced chance of injury. As a competitive softball player you must follow a consistent
flexibility program to ensure your safety and success on the field. Always spend at least 10 minutes stretching at the beginning
and end of each workout, practice or game.
The benefits of a consistent flexibility program:
Ø Decreased risk of injury.
Decreased severity of injury should
Ø Increased force production as a result of a greater range of motion.
Decreased muscular soreness and tightness.
Ø Increased blood flow to muscles and connective tissues.
Increased recovery ability following
It is important that several guidelines be followed in
order for you to stretch safely. Remember that stretching is an individual activity. Some athletes are genetically gifted
to be more flexible than others, so each athlete should know their limitations.
Guidelines for safe and effective stretching:
Ø Stretch regularly. You will only improve if you stretch properly and consistently.
Never stretch a cold muscle group.
Perform a 5-10 minute general warm-up prior to a stretch session.
All movements should be slow and controlled.
Ø Bouncing while stretching can cause muscle and/or joint injury.
Ø Stretching should be relatively comfortable. The feeling we experience while stretching isn’t necessarily
pleasant but it should not be painful. (Pain is a signal that something is wrong.)
Breathe while stretching. Concentrate
on inhaling and exhaling fully.
Ø Concentrate on the muscle group you are stretching.
Some areas of the body may require
additional time and effort.
Ø Perform additional stretches for your specific problem areas or
Ø Hold each stretch for 10-15 seconds.
Stretch your entire body.
Stretches to be performed standing
leg forward lunge with the arms overhead (hips low)
Left leg forward lunge with the arms overhead
Right leg forward lunge, walk the right foot over to the left,
your elbows to the floor.
Left leg forward lunge, walk the left foot over to the right, lower
elbows to the floor.
Standing quad stretch
stretch (hands against a wall)
Right wrist stretch up, then down
Left wrist stretch up, then down
Right elbow across the front
Left elbow across the front
Right elbow around back
Left elbow around back
Rotator cuff stretch
Stretches to be performed lying down
knee to chest… Roll the ankle around
Left knee to chest… Roll the ankle
Bring both knees to the chest
leg side roll right
Cross leg side roll left
Right leg out straight, left foot at the right knee, reach past the right toes
Left leg out straight, right foot at the left knee, reach past the left toes.
Both legs out straight with the feet together, lean and reach forward.
NOTE: PNF stretching is not recommended for athletes under the age of 18.
AGILITY AND MOVEMENT
and movement drills are excellent way to improve or enhance your agility, balance, quickness, and movement. They are also
a good way for young athletes to begin developing some lower body functional strength. Beginners should start by choosing
3 or 4 of the drills. If you don’t have cones to work with, use cups, plastic soda bottles or anything that makes a
You can set up all of the drills and go through them in circuit fashion, or
if you’re limited in the number of cones you have available, set up one drill at a time. Begin by using a 1 to 3 work
to rest ratio while performing the drills. A good starting point is 15 seconds on/45 seconds off. Go through
the circuit of drills 3 times, or if you’re doing 1 drill at a time, do it 3 times then quickly set up the next drill,
do it, then set up and do the third. As the conditioning level improves, you may want to work up in the time of work and down
in the time of rest, maybe reaching bouts of 30 seconds on/30 seconds off. Emphasize quickness with control (balance). As
time goes on, alternate drills for variety - keeping a good balance of forward, backward, and lateral movement.
1. Lateral Quick Steps w/ Sprint up and backpedal
by standing beside cone 2, and then move laterally over the cones. After stepping over cone 11, sprint to cone 12 touching
it with your right hand. Backpedal to cone 11 and move laterally to your left. After stepping over cone 2, sprint up to cone
1 touching it with your left hand.
2. Lateral Quick Steps w/ Sprint out
Begin by standing beside cone 1, and then move laterally over the cones. After stepping over cone 11, sprint
through cone 12. Turn and jog back to cone 1 - repeat.
3. Sprint/Lateral Jumps/Backpedal
Arrange cones in a rectangle with approximately 3 yards between cones 1 and 3, and cones 2 and 4 (approximately
4 yards should be between cones 1 and 2, and cones 3 and 4). Begin at cone 3, sprint up to cone 1, and jump laterally over
to cone 2 emphasizing the push off the left foot. When you reach cone 2, backpedal to cone 4 and jump laterally over to cone
3 emphasizing the push off the right foot then sprint up to cone 1. Focus on the quick change of direction at each corner.
4. “T” Drill
at cone 1. Sprint to cone 2, shuffle laterally to cone 3, touch it and shuffle laterally to cone 4, touch it and shuffle laterally
back to cone 2, touch it, and backpedal to cone 1, touch it and immediately sprint back to cone 2 to begin your second repetition
thru. Two repetitions thru make 1 complete drill.
*5 yards between cones 1 and 2. 3 yards between cones 2 and cones 3 & 4.
5. Box Drill
Begin at cone 1. Sprint to cone 2, lateral shuffle to cone 3, backpedal to cone
4, then lateral shuffle to cone 1. Three repetitions thru make 1 complete drill.
*5 yards between cones.
6. X Drill
at cone 1. Sprint to cone 3 and backpedal to cone 4. Then sprint to cone 2 and backpedal to cone 1. Emphasize strong start
of each sprint up. Three repetitions thru make 1 complete drill.
*5 yards between cones.
SPRINT AND SHUTTLE
150 yd. Shuttle
Place a cone at your starting point and
pace out 5 yards. Place the next
cone down. Not including your starting cone,
you should have five cones
in front of you at 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25
yards. Sprint from the starting cone
to the first cone and back, second cone
and back, and so on.
Place a cone at the start line and a cone 20 yards out. Sprint out to the cone,
then sprint back to the start cone and continue until you’ve completed 12 twenty yard sprints. Rest
for 2 minutes, then repeat. Set a goal time and just do the best you can on each one, recording your times - try improve from
one training session to another.
300 yd. Shuttle
Place a cone at your starting point and
place another cone 50 yards out. Sprint
from cone 1 to cone 2, then back - 3 consecutive
a weight training facility is unavailable, there are things that you can still do that will enable you to get in a strength
training session. Resistance can be provided by using a book bag with books in it (or anything else that provides the weight).
Of course there will be limits to how much you can add so when you’ve reached a point that no more weight can
be added, make the exercise harder be slowing the movement down.
Before you begin
any type of strength training routine, get some guidance and expert advice. Your coach or trainer can give you advice on how
many times a week you should lift and what kinds of warm-up and cool-down activities you should do before and after lifting
to avoid soreness or injury. Many trainers who work at schools, gyms, and in weight rooms are knowledgeable about strength
training, but it's best to get advice from someone who is a certified fitness expert and experienced working with teens.
If you've started puberty, your body will have begun making the hormones necessary to help build muscle in response
to weight training. If you haven't started puberty, though, you'll still be able to get stronger, you just won't
see your muscles getting bigger.
Before you start strength training, you should be checked out by your doctor
to make sure it's safe for you to lift weights. If you feel your body is not ready for strength training
for any reason, talk to your physician. When lifting weights, either free weights or on a machine, make
sure that there's always someone nearby to supervise, or spot,
Do 3 sets of each exercise. To make the workout go quicker,
use the following exercises grouped together, doing the reps required on one exercise and then going immediately to the next
exercise then the next. When you’ve finished 3 sets each of the exercises in that group, move to the next group.
Group 1: Round the Worlds, Walking Lunge, Lying Pullover
Ø Group 2: Wood Chopper, Reverse Lunge, Lateral Hops
Group 3: Straight Arm Twist, Side Lunge, Bent Over
Ø Group 4: Squat Jumps, Push Ups
GLOSSARY OF TERMS:
- Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Hold a weight (book bag) with both hands, arms extended overhead. Slowly
move the weight to the right and downward, keeping the arms and legs straight and bending from the waist. The idea is to "draw"
a circle keeping the weight as far from your bellybutton as possible. "Draw" five circles in that direction then
five in the other direction.
Wood Chopper - Stand with
feet slightly wider than shoulder width, holding the weight with both hands, arms extended overhead. With this exercise, instead
of drawing circles, you'll be doing chopping movements. Keeping the arms and the legs straight, "chop" down
to the right foot, bring the weight back up and "chop" down to the left foot. Continue until you've "chopped"
to each foot 5 times.
Straight Arm Twist - Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width, holding the weight with both hands, arms
extended straight out in front of your chest. Bend the knees slightly. Keeping your hips squared to the
front and the arms straight, twist from the torso as far to the right as possible, then move the weight back to the front
position and repeat. Do 10 twists to the right, then 10 twists to the left. Don't be afraid to get some speed into it
with this movement as the weight moves out as well as back to the center so that you have to work to stop the weight at the
center position. Have strong, powerful twists for each repetition.
Walking Lunge - With the book bag on your back or holding a weight in each hand with the
arms down by your sides, stand with your feet a shoulder width apart. Stand straight and tall with the chest up and look forward.
Take a big step forward with your right foot allowing the hips to move toward the floor until the left knee just slightly
touches the floor. When you're in the stride out position make sure that you have stepped out far enough that
the right knee does not go out beyond the tips of the toes on the right foot. Now, step forward, driving the hips up and bringing
the left foot up even with the right one. Don't lean over as you step up! Lead up with your chest.
Come up with power and take 10 steps with the right leg, turn around and do 10 steps back with the left leg.
Reverse Lunge - With the
book bag on your back or holding a weight in each hand with the arms down by your sides, stand with your feet a shoulder width.
Stand straight and tall, with the chest up, looking forward. Take a big step back with your right foot allowing the hips to
move toward the floor until the left knee just slightly touches the floor. When you're in this step-back position,
make sure that you have stepped far enough back that the right knee does not go out beyond the tips of the toes on the right
foot. Pause there, then return to the start position. Do 10 step outs with the right leg then 10 with the left leg.
Side Lunge - With the book
bag on your back, stand with your feet a shoulder width. Stand straight and tall with the chest up and look forward. Take
a big step out to the right with your right foot allowing the hips to move toward the floor until you feel a good stretch
in the groin. When you're in this stride out position make sure that your right foot is pointed
forward. Now, push yourself back to the start position. Do 10 step outs with the right leg then 10 with
the left leg.
Squat Jumps - Stand with the feet slightly wider than your shoulders. You may have a book bag on your back or a weight
in each hand. Dip into a squat position (don't let the knees move forward as you lower into the squat position) then explode
up leaving the floor as far as possible. It is very important that when your feet come back in contact with the floor that
you land in a good squat position, not allowing your knees to break the plane of the tips of your toes. Make sure that your heels make solid contact with the floor and
that you're not landing on your toes. Complete one rep, return to the start position then do another rep until 10 reps have been completed.
Lateral Hops - Stand with
your feet slightly wider than your shoulders and your knees slightly bent. Explode over to the right, landing on your right
leg and balance there on that right leg for a few seconds, then explode back over landing on the left leg. Continue until
you've completed 10 landings with each leg.
Bent Over Forward Swing - Stand with a wide stance, knees bent. Bend over until your back is close
to parallel with the floor, holding your book bag with both hands, arms hanging down toward the floor. Stay in the bent over
position as you swing the book bag forward (hard!) until the arms are parallel with the floor. At this point your arms and
your back are both parallel to the floor - hold there for a second, then let the weight come back down to the start position,
slowly. Do 10-15 reps.
Lying Pullover - Lay on your back with your arms extended out overhead holding the
(book bag) with both hands. Slide your feet toward your hips so that they are flat on the floor and the knees are pointed
up with approximately a 0 degree bend in them. Keeping your arms straight, move the weight from the floor
to a position straight up over your shoulders (like an overhead throw), then slowly lower the weight back down to the floor.
Do 10-15 reps.
Pushups - Lay flat on the floor with your hands flat on the floor about 3 or 4 inches out from the center of your
chest (not up level with your shoulders). Keep you body straight from head to ankles as you push up off the floor and the
arms are fully extended. Come back down until your chest TOUCHES the floor and repeat. Do sets of 10 to 15 reps each.
Do sets of 10 to 12 reps each. If you’re making all the reps and you’re going all the way down on each
rep, put some weight on your back.
Resistance tubing offers an inexpensive and portable way to get a full-body, strength-training workout at home or on the road.
As with all exercise, it is important to warm up for five to 10 minutes and gently stretch the muscles
you will be working. For beginners, it is best to do one set of 12 to 15 repetitions.
exercisers (i.e., those that have been lifting weights for up to three months) can perform one to two sets of each exercise.
More advanced strength trainers (i.e., those who have been lifting weights or using tubing for more than three months) should
try to complete two or three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions. Stretch each muscle group after each set and at the end of the
entire workout to improve flexibility.
Perform the following exercises for a quick full-body workout:
Seated row (back): Sit on the floor and
grasp one handle. Wrap the tubing around a
bedpost or some type of anchor close to the ground and grab the other handle.
Sit back so that there is tension on the elastic when your arms are extended forward. Extend your legs in front of you with
your knees slightly bent. Pull the handles so that your elbows form right angles as you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Bring your elbows back as far as you can, keeping your spine neutral. Slowly let your arms extend back to the starting
position and begin your second repetition. Be sure not to slouch.
(chest): Secure the center of the tubing at
chest level and face away from the anchor, grabbing the handles in each hand. Begin with your thumbs at your armpits and step
far enough away from the anchor that at this starting position the tube is not gapping. Fully extend your arms in front of
your body. Slowly release to the starting position and repeat.
press (shoulders): Stand on the center of the
band with feet shoulder-width apart. With your palms facing forward and hands by your shoulders, extend your arms straight
up while keeping your back straight (do not arch your back) and abdominal muscles tight. Slowly lower and repeat.
Triceps extension (triceps): Step on the tubing and pull one handle up behind your head. Bring your elbow up close to
your ear and, beginning with your arm bent behind you, extend straight up until your arm is straight. You may use your other
arm to hold your elbow in close to your head. Slowly lower back to the starting position and switch arms.
Biceps curl (biceps): Step on one end
of the exercise band and grab the handle with the same hand. Be sure that when your arm is extended down by your side, there
is some tension on the tubing. With your palm facing forward, bend your elbow, bringing your hand up toward your shoulder.
Keep your wrist straight and bend only at the elbow. Slowly release and repeat. If you are using light resistance you may
be able to stand on the center of the tube and work both arms simultaneously.
(quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes): Stand on
the tubing so that you are centered. Grab the handles with both hands and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
Hold the handles up by your shoulders and bend as if you are going to sit in a chair. Return to standing and repeat. Be sure
to keep a flat back and contract your abdominal muscles.
Kneeling crunches (abdominals): Anchor the tubing above your head and let the handles drop down. Kneel
on the floor with the anchor behind you. Hold the handles with your hands up by your ears and elbows in. Bending from the
waist, curl down, bringing your head toward your knees and keeping the handles locked by your ears. Slowly return to the starting
position and repeat.
Tubing Safety Tips
Pulling on exercise tubing isn’t exactly a risky activity. Still, to keep
the tube from snapping into your face—and to give your muscles the best challenge—follow these important guidelines.
Check for holes or worn spots in the tubing. Replace
the tube if you see any tears.
Ø Do your workout on carpeting, wood floors or grass—anywhere but asphalt or cement. Abrasive
surfaces can tear your tube.
Ø Wear comfortable, supportive athletic shoes, not sandals or dress shoes.
Ø Make sure the tubing is secured underfoot or on an anchor before you begin each exercise.
Maintain good posture throughout each exercise: Keep
your knees slightly bent, your abdominal muscles pulled in and your chest expanded.
Ø Perform the exercises in a slow and controlled manner, to work against resistance
both when you pull on the tube and when your return to the starting position.
This Pilates workout is designed to strengthen your core stability muscles: the deep abdominal,
back, and pelvic floor muscles. One of the best ways to challenge these muscles is to make them stabilize the trunk under
Why does Pilates strengthen the core so effectively? Why will exercises targeting
the abdominals in a Pilates workout likely strengthen the core more than traditional crunches? The answer, and, ironically,
the secret to flat abs: Pilates focuses on a key muscle of the core, the Tranversus Abdominus, the deepest muscles of the abdominal wall, the fibers
run horizontally, creating a corset like effect. A strong Transversus Abdominis protects your lower back and internal organs,
and, of course, strengthens your core. The Transversus Abdominis is engaged by pulling in the abdominal muscles in and toward
the front wall of the spine (think of tightening a belt.) No change in spinal shape should result. Thus, a HUGE bonus of focusing
on the Transversus Abdominis is that we can create the coveted flat tummy... the trademark sign of a true Pilates body and
a well conditioned athlete!
1. Warm Up the Core - Diaphragmatic Breathing
Getty Images/Digital Vision
You might think that breathing is too easy an exercise. But diaphragmatic breathing helps you
get oxygen to fuel your workout, stimulates the organs and spine, and it prepare your core muscles to workout. Take at least
5 deep, belly breaths.
You can do this exercise lying on your back with your knees bent or even now, sitting up reading.
Either way, do it with one hand resting lightly on your lower belly so you can feel your breath move your body.
Your shoulders relaxed and dropped away from your ears.
is long, in what we call neutral spine, a natural position of the spine that allows the curves of the spine to be present.
you are sitting, feel that your weight is falling directly down through your sit bones and your head is floating up toward the sky.
Your throat is open and relaxed.
Inhale: Breathe in slowly through your
nose. Let the air flow into your upper chest and down your spine -- expanding the sides and lower ribs, filling the diaphragm,
back and lower back, and dropping all the way down into the pelvis. Allow the deep inhale to push your belly out a little
The Exhale: Let go of your breath in the reverse
order that you brought it in. Drop your lower abs, then your belly. Let your ribs pull in, and last, let your chest to drop
as you fully expel all the air.
2. Wall Roll Down
Standing is another action we take for granted. But standing with good alignment takes a lot of core strength.
We are always in danger of falling over, really. It's the core muscles that hold us up. The wall roll down exercise helps
to stretch the back and warm up the abs, establishing a strong, tall posture when we step away from the wall. Notice also
that wall roll down incorporates the Pilates fundamental exercise, arms over.
Do wall roll down
tall against a wall. Leaving your body on the wall, walk your feet six to ten inches away from the wall.
Pull your abdominals in.
Keep your shoulders away from your ears, your chest wide
and your ribs down as you raise your arms straight up over head.
Your arms stay parallel
to your ears as you nod your head and begin to slowly roll your spine down and away from the wall, vertebrae by vertebrae.
The abdominals stay lifted and there is a sense of lengthening the spine as you roll down.
As the roll down progresses, you have the opportunity to deepen the scoop of the abs even more.
Work slowly, peeling the spine away from the wall.
Let your head and neck relax.
down as far as you can go without letting your hips leave the wall. Your abdominals are very pulled in. Feel
the curve evenly along the upper, middle and lower sections of your torso. You could be getting a good hamstring stretch here.
Begin your return up the wall by initiating the roll up with your lower abs. This is a powerhouse move.
Think of using the lower abs to bring your pelvis to an upright position.
Continue up, placing each vertebrae on the wall, one by one.
As you roll
up, your arms travel alongside your ears and the shoulders stay relaxed.
As you come
close to upright, you will feel a moment when you can let the ribs stay down as shoulders drop into place. It feels a bit
like your upper body is rolling up between your shoulders.
Bring your roll up to the starting
position. Be sure your abs are engaged and your shoulders are dropped.
Arms are overhead with
wide shoulders and an open chest.
3. Knee Folds (ball optional)
(c)2007, Marguerite Ogle
The ball adds our first real stability
element. Make your core muscles stabilize you. Keep your spine long and your abs in. Don't depend on just leg power to
lift the leg. Whether you are on the floor or on the ball, the idea is to get a deep crease at the hip and use your abs to
help lift the leg. Do at least 5 lifts on each leg (alternating).
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on
the floor. Mentally scan you body. As you do so, let go of unnecessary tension and check your alignment.
Your neck is long and relaxed
Your shoulders are dropped and your chest is open.
arms are by your sides.
Your ribcage is released onto the floor.
spine and pelvis are in neutral position -- not tucked and not arched.
Your legs are parallel, about
hip distance apart.
Your feet are in line with your legs, toes pointing straight forward.
Breathe deeply. Allow the breath to expand the ribs evenly, and to travel down your spine and into your pelvis.
Engage your abdominal and
pelvic floor muscles. They should feel active, and your belly will pull in and up as you engage. However, this is not an
overly strong move and it does not change the position of the pelvis.
an inhale, feel that you are using your abdominal muscles to lift one leg off the floor.
Your thigh muscles will
be part of this move, but the abdominals are more important. As you use your abs, keep your torso long. Feel a deepening of
the crease at the hip joint. It is important not to let the hip to come up with the leg.
Exhale and return your foot to the floor. As you do so, be sure to use abdominal control. Don't let the
thigh take over.
4. Chest Lift (ball optional)
getty images/sheer photo, inc
Again, the exercise ball is going to add a stability challenge to this exercise. Use your core
for balance and stay away from trying to steady yourself by over-gripping the ball with the legs. On the floor or on the ball,
you might feel this more in your upper abs but pull in the lower abs in and up as well. Do 5 -7 repetitions.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
Make sure that your legs are parallel - lined up so that your hip,
knee and ankle are in one line and the toes are pointing directly away from you. You are in neutral spine position with the natural curve of the lower spine creating a slight lift off the mat.
your shoulders down as you bring your hands behind your head with the finger tips touching. Your hands
will support the base of your skull. Your elbows will stay open throughout the exercise.
Take a few deep breaths. Use this time to make a little survey of your body. Be sure your body is balanced
side to side. Check that your neck is relaxed and your ribs are dropped.
Exhale: Slowly pull your belly button down toward your spine and keep going, allowing your spine to lengthen
out and the lower back to come down to the mat. Simultaneously, tilt you chin slightly down and from the top of the head, with a long neck, slowly
lift the upper spine off the mat until the base of the scapula is just brushing the mat.
There is a deepening feeling
under the bottom ribs as you lift.
*Remember, the work is in your abs, which are in a deep concave position. Your
neck and shoulders stay relaxed, and the movement does not create tension in the legs. Pause at the
top and inhale. Draw the abdominals in deeper.
the abdominals drawn in as you slowly lower back to the mat.
Inhale: Release the abdominals
and return to neutral spine.
5. One Leg Circle
Courtesy of Peak Pilates
In one leg circle, the leverage of the extended leg moving away from center challenges the core
to keep the trunk stable, as in no rocking of the hips, at all. Do 5 circles each direction with each leg.
Do small circles at first and build up to larger ones.
Lie on your back with legs extended on
the floor, arms by your sides. Take a moment to feel the weight of your body on the floor.
Try to balance the weight of the shoulders and the hips on each side.
may want to do some sequential breathing to help drop the breath into the body and encourage the weight of the ribs to rest on the floor.
Engage Your Abdominals
Pull your abdominals in, anchoring the pelvis and shoulders.
Extend one leg toward the ceiling.
If your hamstrings are stretched, go ahead and lengthen
the leg all the way up toward the ceiling. Do not lift your hip in the process.
may leave the knee slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight. It is more important that your hips stay stable and grounded
on the mat than it is for your leg to be straight.
The Leg Circles
Inhale: Cross the extended leg over toward the opposite hip.
Exhale: Drop the leg a few inches. Use control as you open the leg out and then sweep it around in a
small circle back to center.
Be sure to keep your shoulders and pelvis level. This
is more important than extending the leg fully or making big circles. It is in keeping the pelvis stable that your abdominals
get their workout. No Rockin' or Rollin'!
The Breath and Movement Pattern
Do five circles in each
direction with each leg.
First set of 5:
Inhale to cross the body and circle down.
to open the leg and circle up.
Second set of 5:
Exhale to open the leg and circle down.
Inhale to cross the body and circle and up.
6. Shoulder Bridge
(c)2008, Marguerite Ogle
begins with shoulder bridge prep, where both feet are on the floor and you lift the hips straight up (not rolled up) to be
in a diagonal line with the shoulders. Extending one leg gives you less of a base and a greater level of difficulty for the
core to maintain stability.
Alternate lifting each leg 5 times each. If you are only pressing up to bridge position
without the leg lifts, press up 3 times.
7. Open Leg Balance and Rocker
balance is a big job for the core. First, we take away all contact with the floor except just behind the sit bones. Then, if you are ready, take that balance into rolling. Stay curved, and use your abs to initiate
the rolling and keep you rolling straight.
Do 3 balances and
3 rolls. Don't do more because we are going directly to rolling like a ball.
Open Leg Balance
Sit up tall on your sit bones.
Bring your feet in toward your body, knees open, feet
together. Put your arms to the inside of the legs and grasp your ankles.
Make sure your shoulders stay dropped as the
spine extends long up through the trunk and the head reaches for the sky.
Pull in the abdominals, paying special attention to lifting the lower abs.
one leg, stabilize, extend the second leg.
You may rock back behind your sit bones, but don't go so far that you
settle onto your tail bone. BALANCE and hold for a count of 5.
With control, fold one leg in, then the next. Check you posture and repeat the exercise
3 - 4 times.
Open Leg Rocker:
Prepare: Sit up tall on your sit bones with your knees bent so that you can grasp your ankles.
As you balance between your sit-bones
and tailbone, keep your abdominals activated as you lift and extend one leg, then the other, to shoulder width apart.
Inhale and Roll: On an inhale, use a deepening scoop of the abdominals and the fullness of
your inhale to propel your roll back onto your shoulders.
Stay in your C-curve as you roll, leaving your head and neck off the mat. Pause.
Exhale and Return: Remain in
your C-curve and use your abdominal muscles, along with a strong exhale, to bring yourself back to an upright balance.
Tip: Rolling exercises are initiated
and controlled by the deepening of the abdominals, the breath, and expansion of the back in relation to the breath. They are
never accomplished by throwing oneself backward from the shoulders and head. Stay in the C-curve until you come up for your
8. Rolling Like a Ball
Rolling exercises are part of the classic Pilates exercise repertoire. They create a unique abdominal workout
where we have to use a lot of control to initiate and support the movement. Rolling also gets the blood flowing, stimulates
the spine, and coordinates the breath and movement.
The power of the breath is the key to
getting these rolling exercises to flow smoothly. Allow yourself
to breathe out loud for these. Don't be shy; exaggerate for a while until you get the breath coordinated with the movement.
The biggest problem people have with rolling exercises is trying to get their
roll started by tilting themselves backward from the head and shoulders. This never works. The rolling starts with a deep
pull in of the lower abs and strong use of the breath. Stay curved, use your breath, focus your intention, and pull the abs
in so much that you have to roll back; it works. Another tendency is to try to use the momentum of throwing the legs to get
the roll over and back. This can harm to your back and it takes the focus off the abs, which is where you want it.
Stay in Your C Curve
Repeat: Stay in the C curve the whole time. There is a
tendency to undo the curve and layout at the top end of a roll. This will cause you to lose your momentum. Rolling
exercises treat the head as an extension of the spine, so your neck continues the curve of your spine and your head is not
overly tucked. Remember, you want to be a perfect wheel.
Roll Only to the Shoulders
It is important to protect your upper back and neck. Roll only onto your shoulders, just above the lower tips
of your scapula, and never up onto your neck. A big part of working with the shoulder area as a support
station is keeping your chest open, back wide, and shoulders down. This will help you roll evenly
and have a good platform to roll onto.
9. Side Leg Lifts
By Peter Kramer, Courtesy of Kolesar Studios
Lying on your side with your ribs and legs lifted away from the mat does not provide a very
big surface to balance on. That means your core will be working extra to keep you stable and your hips stacked vertically,
as well as to lift your legs. It is a good idea to bring your legs slightly forward of your hips to help with balance.
Do 5 lifts on each side.
Prepare: Lie on your side with all body parts lined up so that your ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and ears
are in one line. Now move your legs slightly in front so that you are in a banana shape. This helps with
balance and protects the lower back.
You can prop your head up on your hand, or stretch the
bottom arm out long and lay your head down. If you prop your head up, you must support your alignment by lifting your rib
cage away from the mat. Make sure that your abdominals are pulled in. This is your key to using the abs for strength and stability.
The breath moves down the full length of your spine,
making your entire body very long from tip to toe.
Use your abdominals and the engagement of your legs
to bring both legs up a few inches off your mat. Focus on keeping your inner legs together, all the way
from your sit bones to your heels.
Get longer still as you slowly lower your legs back down on the mat. Use control.
Turn over on your other side and repeat. Modify this exercise by leaving your head down
on an outstretched arm. The front arm is just for balance. Use your core. Increase the
challenge by pausing at the top of your lift for several breaths.
10. Side Kick Front/Back with Kneeling
Courtesy of Peak Pilates
Side-lying and a leverage challenge from your moving leg will work your core muscles in side
kick front/back. Moving up to kneeling side kick, with just one leg and one hand on the floor, makes it even harder to maintain
a stable trunk. Do 5 kicks on each side. Do 3 on each side if you are taking the exercise up to kneeling
position as well.
Plyometric exercises are explosive exercises that help to build, power, strength and speed. The most important element when considering performance
technique during plyometric training is the landing - it must be soft. When you land from a jump, you want
to softly accept your weight on the balls of your feet, slowly rolling back to the heel with a bent knee and a straight hip.
Many athletes and trainers use plyometric jumping exercises to build power and speed, improve coordination and agility
and effectively improve sports performance. It's also important to recognize that these are high risk exercises and if
performed incorrectly or performed without a solid base of training, plyometrics can increase the risk of injury.
are Plyometric Exercises?
Plyometric exercises are
specialized, high intensity training techniques used to develop athletic power (strength and speed). Plyometric training involves
high-intensity, explosive muscular contractions that invoke the stretch reflex (stretching the muscle before it contracts
so that it contracts with greater force). The most common plyometric exercises include hops, jumps and bounding movements.
One popular plyometric exercise is jumping off a box and rebounding off the floor and onto another, higher box. These exercises
typically increase speed and strength and build power.
Safety of Plyometrics
Experts in the field of exercise science have varying opinions of plyometrics. The American College of Sports
Medicine states that "that plyometric training is a safe, beneficial and fun activity for children and adolescents
provided that the program is properly designed and supervised." The American Council on Fitness also
recommends plyometric exercise if done properly. And the National Strength and Conditioning Association offers a position stand in favor of plyometrics.
Plyometrics (and any impact exercise) can increase the risk of injury if you don't follow certain
safety precautions. The tremendous force generated during these moves requires that athletes use them sparingly,
with proper training, and expert guidance and supervision.
The most important aspect of a safe and effective
plyometric program is developing a safe landing technique. This means the athlete lands softly on the toes and rolls to the
heels. By using the whole foot (and a larger surface area) for landing it helps dissipate the impact forces on the joints. The other key to proper landing is to avoid any twisting or sideways motion
at the knee.
Before you start plyometrics training, you should be checked out by your doctor and be instructed
by a certified fitness insructor to make sure it's safe for you. If you feel your body is not ready
for plyometrics training for any reason, talk to your physician.
To warm up for a plyometrics workout,
jog for at least five minutes, and follow that with five minutes of light skipping, gentle jumping jacks, and high knee prancing.
It’s best to perform the jumping drills on grass so you have some cushioning. A football field is ideal so you can use
the yard lines, but any stable, cushioned surface like a track will provide the "give" you need. After the drills,
do an easy run or reduced-volume speed session to cool down and round out your workout.
Plyometrics Safety Tips
Ø Plyometrics are recommended only for well-conditioned athletes
Ø You should have high levels of leg strength prior to performing plyometrics
Warm up thoroughly before starting plyometrics
Ø Start slowly with small jumps and gradually build up
Ø Land softly (see above) to absorb shock
Ø Allow plenty of rest between plyometric workouts
Ø Stop immediately if you feel any pain in your joints
Ø Pay attention to Injury Warning Signs.
Use footwear with plenty of cushioning
Perform plyometrics on soft or cushioned surfaces
These exercises are basic, however, it is critical to perform them correctly. Please take the time to ensure safe
and correct completion of these exercises. Launch
into each drill with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, trunk flexed forward
slightly with back straight in a neutral position.
Arms should be in the “ready" position with elbows flexed at approximately 90°.
3. Lower body where thighs are parallel to ground and immediately explode upwards vertically and
drive arms up. Do not hold a squat position before jumping up – keep the time between dipping down and jumping up to
4. Land on both feet. Rest for 1-2 seconds
Prior to takeoff extend the ankles to
their maximum range (full plantar flexion) to ensure proper mechanics.
Jump to Box
1.Stand facing box with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
2.Lower body into a semi-squat position and immediately
jump up onto box. Do not hold a squat position before jumping up – keep the time between dipping down and jumping up
to a minimum.
3. Feet should land softly on box.
Step back down (not jump back down) and repeat.
Lateral Jump to Box
1. Stand side on to box with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
2. Lower body into
a semi-squat position and jump up onto box. Do not hold a squat position before jumping up – keep the time between dipping
down and jumping up to a minimum.
3. Feet should
land softly on box. Step back down (not jump back down) and repeat.
Split Squat Jumps
1. Stand with feet hip width apart. Take left leg and step back approximately 2 feet standing on the ball of back foot.
2. Feet should be positioned at a staggered stance with head and back erect and straight in a neutral position.
Lower body by bending at right hip and knee until thigh is parallel to floor then immediately explode vertically.
Switch feet in the air so that the back foot lands forward and vice versa.
Prior to takeoff extend the ankles to their
maximum range (full plantar flexion) ensure proper mechanics.
1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, with arms at sides.
2. Jump up bringing knees up
3. Land on balls of feet and repeat immediately.
4. Remember to reduce ground contact time by landing
soft on feet and springing into air.
Lateral Box Push Offs
1. Stand to side of box and place the left foot on top of box.
2. Push off the box using the left leg only and
explode vertically as high as possible. Drive the arms forward and up for maximum height.
3. Land with right foot on
the box and left foot on the ground to the other side of the box.
4. Repeat from this side.
1. Jog into the start of the drill for forward momentum.
2. After a few feet, forcefully
push off with the left foot and bring the leg forward. At same time drive your right arm forward.
3. Repeat with other
leg and arm
4. This exercise is an exaggerated running motion focusing on foot push-off and air time.
Bounding with Rings
1. Jog into the start of the drill for forward momentum.
2. After a few feet, forcefully push off with the left
foot and bring the right leg forward. At same time swing left arm forward and land into the first ring, which is 3-4 feet
out and to the left, with the right foot.
3. Continue and repeat with other leg and arm into the second ring, which is
now 3-4 feet up and to the right.
4. This exercise is an exaggerated running motion focusing on foot push-off and air
1. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, with your body facing the first ring.
2. Hop forward using
both feet and land in first ring.
3. Now hop to the left and land in the ring to the side. Now jump backwards to land
in ring behind you. Finish by jumping to your right to land in final ring.
4. Rest and repeat. Remember to keep ground
contact time between bounds to a minimum.
Lateral Hurdle Jumps
1. Stand beside object to be cleared.
2. Bring knees up and jump vertically but also laterally off ground and over
3. Land on both feet and immediately jump the other direction over barrier.
4. Try not to pause between
jumps or sink down into a squat position.
1. Stand to the left of an agility ladder or similar object approximately 1-2 feet away.
2. Forcefully push off
both feet and land the on the other side of the ladder.
3. Repeat and land feet back on the other side, continue repeating
and so on down the ladder.4. Do not "double hop" upon each landing and keep ground contact time to a minimum.
Single Leg Tuck Jump
This is the same as the tuck jump exercise above only one leg is used.
Upon landing another jump is performed immediately with minimal ground contact time and with the same leg for the desired
number of repetitions. This is repeated for the other leg after a rest period. Single leg plyometric exercises are typically
more advanced and require greater strength and balance. They are suitable for sports were a takeoff is completed on one leg.
Single Leg Lateral Hops
1. Start by standing on one leg with your hands on your waist or at your sides.
2. Proceed to hop to the side while
maintaining your balance and hop back to the starting position.
3. You can place a rope on the ground or any object
on the ground. The object can be small in size and height or large to increase difficulty.
4. Repeat continuously.
1. Stand on box with toes close to edge, feet shoulder width apart.
2. Step off (do not jump off) box and land
on both feet. Immediately jump up as high as possible and reach up with both hands towards. The jump should be vertical with
no horizontal movement.
4. Ground contact time should be short unlike in the diagram. Landing should be soft.
Note: Start with a box height of 30cm (12in). Intensity can be increased by gradually
increasing the box height to a maximum of 107cm (42in) but this is only for experienced athletes with a substantial
strength training background.
exercise is physical exercise that intends to improve the efficiency of the cardiovascular
system in absorbing and transporting oxygen. Aerobic means "with oxygen", and refers to the use
of oxygen in the body's metabolic or energy-generating process. Many types of exercise are aerobic, and by definition
are performed at moderate levels of intensity for extended periods of time.
Among the recognized benefits of doing regular aerobic exercise are:
Ø Strengthening the muscles involved in respiration, to facilitate the flow of
air in and out of the lungs
Strengthening and enlarging the heart muscle, to
improve its pumping efficiency and reduce the resting heart rate, known as aerobic conditioning
Ø Strengthening muscles throughout the
Improving circulation efficiency and reducing blood
Increasing the total number of red blood cells in
the body, facilitating transport of oxygen
Ø Improved mental health, including
reducing stress and lowering the incidence of depression
As a result, aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of death due to cardiovascular problems. In addition, high-impact aerobic
activities (such as jogging or jumping rope) can stimulate bone growth, as well as reducing the risk of osteoporosis for both
men and women.
In addition to the health benefits of aerobic
exercise, there are numerous performance benefits:
Ø Increased storage of energy molecules such as fats and carbohydrates within the muscles, allowing for increased
Ø Neovascularization of the muscle sarcomeres to increase blood flow through the muscles
Ø Increasing speed at which aerobic metabolism is activated within muscles, allowing
a greater portion of energy for intense exercise to be generated aerobically
Ø Improving the ability of muscles to use fats during exercise, preserving intramuscular glycogen
Enhancing the speed at which muscles recover from
high intensity exercise
Both the health benefits
and the performance benefits, or "training effect", require a minimum duration and frequency of exercise. Most authorities
suggest at least twenty minutes performed at least three times per week.
Recommended types of
Walking, Running, Jumping Rope, Ski machines, treadmills, rower, health rider, aerobics to music,
Just starting out on your weight loss goal? Not been working out lately? Then
walking is for you. Although the fat burning potential in walking is low, its a great place to start. With time you can jog
and increase the intensity level burning more calories.
Do you love outdoors? Want some fresh air with exercise? Then Outdoor Jogging
is the way to go. Also if you are just starting out on your weight loss expedition then outdoor jogging is best for you. Early
morning or evenings are best to perform these activities in a quiet environment.
Many experts rate this as the best Aerobic exercise with a high fat burning potential. Injuries can result
from overtraining and may be a reason you should avoid them, especially if you have a previous medical history. Always
consult a doctor.
3. Outdoor Cycling/ Stationary
Stationary Cycling is also a great way to
burn calories. It is an excellent aerobic exercise and you can have fun doing it. Whenever possible, get
away from the gym and head outdoors for an even more exhilarating activity.
4. Treadmills/Rowing Machines/Ellipticals/Stair-climbers
Here you can combine walking, jogging and add resistance as well. The fact that you can perform
high intensity exercise with a treadmill makes it very effective for fat burning. Rowing machines are a
whole body exercise and can greatly burn calories.
a weight training session to your aerobics at least 3 times a week. Aerobics and weight training work together, helping you
burn fat, preserve muscle and get toned.
the key to a better body is consistency. No one has ever lost fat and got fit without being consistant
with their exercise and fitness.
BRIAN MAC - SPORTS COACH
FOR DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION
"DRILLS TO ENHANCE QUICKNESS, AGILITY AND MOVEMENT", WRIGHT WAYNE
"PLYOMETRIC POWER", BOB COOPER
"PLYOMETRIC EXERCISES", ELIZABETH