Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Volleyball Training Tips

A well-structured volleyball training program can increase explosive power, vertical jump height, stamina and speed and agility around the court. Skill training alone, such as practising spikes, won't develop the physical traits necessary to play to the athlete's full potential.

Volleyball players have exceptional lower body power and perform well in the vertical jump test. Power in the legs is needed to jump explosively off the ground in order to spike, block, set and dive.

The repetitive nature of jumping movements makes power endurance an important outcome of training and the length of games and sets places a significant demand on strength endurance. Power and strength endurance are more important than aerobic endurance, although at elite levels, volleyball players have moderate to high values for aerobic power.

A well-designed volleyball training program will also help to reduce the incidence and severity of injury in volleyball players. Despite being a non-contact sport, a three study found that volleyball is the eighth most injury prone sport in the age group 14 to 20 years.

The articles below cover various volleyball training components useful to players at all levels. You will find sample programs for improving explosive power, your vertical jump and speed and agility - all specific to the game.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wrestling Training Tips

Widely recognized as the world's oldest competitive sport, wrestling has featured in every Olympic games since its ancient conception.

The are two styles of wrestling at the modern Olympics - freestyle and Greco-Roman. While the rules are almost identical, Greco-Roman wrestlers must not use the legs to trip or lift an opponent or attack an opponents legs.

Successful wrestling training for both disciplines must develop a high level of anaerobic power in both the arms and the legs and excellent strength endurance. With bouts lasting up to a maximum of 5 minutes (depending on the age and level), high levels of blood lactate can accumulate in wrestlers from frequent intense bursts of activity and minimal rest periods.

Anaerobic endurance and capacity are more probably more important to the wrestler than pure aerobic endurance. Aerobic power is average in national wrestlers although values as high as 70mls/kg/min have been recorded in elite level wrestlers.

A major consideration for wrestlers is weight management. Rapid weight loss to make a weight category has profound adverse effects on the wrestler's physiology, particularly in relation to strength endurance. Both nutritional and training techniques can help to minimize any weight reduction required in the first place and also to minimize the negative effects of rapid weight loss.

Strength training will obviously play a significant role in a wrestler's overall training plan. A bodybuilding approach however is not the most effective use of training time and may result in significant weight gain. Maximal strength training is more sport-specific and is not associated with significant hypertrophy. It can also be converted into strength endurance and power endurance, two physical traits crucial to a high level of performance.

The articles below cover important wrestling training elements. Take a look through the articles covering strength and power training for wrestling, endurance training and planning an a periodized program.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Soccer Training Section

Soccer is perhaps the most demanding of all sports.

In the modern game (at any level) soccer training and conditioning is essential.

Few sports are played on as large a playing field, lasting as long and without regular rest periods.

Players cover 8-12km during a match, consisting of 24% walking, 36% jogging, 20% coursing, 11% sprinting, 7% moving backwards and 2% moving whilst in possession of the ball.

Soccer players posses excellent endurance with VO2max reported to range between 55 and 70 ml/kg/min in elite performers. The game is played at an average intensity close to the lactate threshold - approximately 80-90% of maximum heart rate.

How important is the correct type of endurance training in soccer?

The greater a player's aerobic capacity, the more ground they cover during a typical game. Additionally, improved endurance also increases the number of sprints completed in a game. By improving the VO2max of youth soccer players by 11% over an 8 week period, a 20% increase in total distance covered during competitive match play was manifested, along with a 23% increase in involvements with the ball and a 100% increase in the number of sprints performed by each player.

What about other forms of conditioning?

Strength training now plays a major role in soccer. However, simply lifting weights with the traditional "3 sets of 10 repetitions" approach is not an efficient way to spend training time. Soccer requires a balance of explosive power and muscular endurance. Some players may benefit from increasing their lean mass but even they should focus on converting much of their strength into soccer-specific power.

Strength training for soccer also helps to correct muscle imbalances. Soccer players in particualr are prone to developing overly strong quadriceps in relation to their hamstrings and a well-formed strength plan can address this and prevent future injury.

The articles below cover all the important forms of soccer training and conditioning. Strength and endurance training is covered in-depth as well as sample speed and agility sessions, flexibility training and warming up and cooling down...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Body Composition, Weight Management Programs, Athletic Performance and more...

Body Composition

Body composition is an essential measure of health and fitness for both athletes and the general population.
For sportsmen and women, there is nothing more detrimental than carrying dead weight.
If you are considering a weight loss program, accurately assessing your body fat percentage is The most important measurement you can take. In fact...

Even if you wanted to gain weight simply measuring your body mass is not enough. Some athletes would fall into the obese category of height/weight tables despite having very little body fat!
And what about aging? There is no question that successful aging is largely in our own hands. Assess your body composition regularly and you don't have to succumb to one of the "normal" and detrimental effects of growing old.

So what is the best method for assessing body composition? What is your ideal body fat percentage? Which athletes typically have the highest and lowest levels of body fat?

Weight Management Programs

Are you on a weight loss or even a weight gain program? Calculating your body fat percentage before, during and after is THE most important measurement you can take. Here's why... Research shows that many fad diets, with little or no exercise can cause a person to lose as much muscle tissue as fat. What's more...
There is a good chance that this person will return to their pre-diet weight. Only now they gain back more fat and less lean muscle. Essentailly , they are the same weight but they now have a higher body fat percentage and less lean muscle mass. The point to remember is...
Weighing scales will not show any of these changes. Measuring your body fat percentage will. Measure it and you can manage it. If you notice you are losing considerable lean tissue mass as well as fat, you can take appropriate steps to adjust your program.
If you have ever followed a strict exercise and nutrition program you'll understand what a key role motivation plays. As with any fitness test this is one the most powerful qualities of calculating body fat percentage. Imagine this quick example...

Sam follows a proper exercise and nutrition program. After a month or so of dedication and determination she notices her weight has changed only slightly if at all... Arrgh!
Not getting discouraged Sam has her body fat percentage measured...
Before her program Sam weighed 150lbs with a body fat percentage of 30%. After 6 weeks she weighs 148lbs. But her body fat percentage has dropped to 26%. The result?
Over 6.5lbs of highly-motivating fat loss! And she has gained 4.5lbs of healthy lean muscle. This situation is so common that you should never gauge the success of a weight loss program with the bathroom scales alone.
And it's exactly the same for someone on weight gain program... only in reverse. In this case any additional weight should come from lean muscle mass. No way to tell that with the bathroom scales. Plus, what if you're weight stays the same? Maybe you put on 10lbs of muscle while losing 10lbs of fat.

So what other benefits does knowing your body fat percentage give you? Let's look at the long term picture and consider you’re healthy, strong and sexy.

Athletic Performance

No doubt about it. Excess body fat hinders sport performance.
Granted, outstanding sports men and women come in all shapes and sizes... even within the same sport. But remember, it's not your weight that matters but your body fat percentage. Here are some of the reasons why...
Excess body fat is related to injury, non adherence to training and overall reduced athletic performance. A high body fat percentage acts as "dead weight" reducing speed and efficiency of movement.
A high body fat percentage is also detrimental to jumping, agility and endurance activities.
Even those athletes who want to gain weight will harm their performance by increasing body fat too much.
Calculate your own body fat percentage and then compare it to other athletes in your sport. It can give you a great indication of whether you could make improvements or not. With that in mind let's look into...

Your Ideal Body Fat Percentage

The absolute perfect body fat percentage does NOT exist. Age and gender make a big contribution to the ideal value, but most importantly...
Everyone is an individual. Some people might feel and perform better at a higher or lower body fat percentage than others of the same age and sex. And that's why...
Ranges and guidelines exist. Have a look at the tables below. The first table gives the ideal body fat percentage ranges for the general population. The second table is the average body fat percentage for different athletes. The important thing to remember is...
Anywhere inside the range is good. Staying below the upper limit should be your target but as you'll soon see lower is not necessarily better.

OK, have you worked out the ideal range for you? Great. You've probably already know the risks associated with falling significantly above the upper limit of this range. But what about the lower end of the scale?

Lower is Not Necessarily Better

A certain amount of body fat is vital for the body to function normally and healthy. In fact striving for a body fat percentage that is too low can be dangerous. Here's why...
Measuring your body fat percentage calculates your TOTAL body fat. This total body fat can be split into 2 categories...
Storage Fat -- This consists mainly of fat deposited just under the skin or subcutaneous fat. Storage fat for men and women is fairly similar. For the average man 12% of bodyweight is storage fat and for the average woman 15% of bodyweight is storage fat.
Essential Body Fat -- For the body to function normally and healthily a certain amount of body fat is required. This is called essential fat. For women the average amount of essential fat is 12% of bodyweight and for men it is 3%.
Trying to achieve a body fat percentage that is so low it affects your essential fat stores is NOT good for your health.
Some storage fat is also required for good health. It's used to protect internal organs in the chest and abdomen. So remember...
Aim to stay within the range for age and gender and rest assured you are taking one of the most positive steps to life-long health you can.