Training to better your sport? Running, hockey, swimming, whatever it may be. You should think about the demands of your particular sport and train those specific skills. In my Athletic Therapy practice, I have treated many runners, dancers etc. who actually don’t strength train! This truly boggles my mind, as strength training will actually help them be better in their sport. However the common mindset is, “well I run, thats my exercise”. As an Athletic Therapist it is my goal to provide the most current (evidence based) advice to my patients! And this is where I start.
For instance: Running. Running is a single leg sport. Therefore, you should be doing a lot of single leg exercises. Some good exercises for runners include: single leg balance, single leg squat, single leg deadlift, single leg hop. However, if you have not done any strength training, I wouldn’t jump into single leg movements right away. You need to build a base: Can you isolate your glutes by firing (or squeezing) them one at a time? Then implement basic glute exercises i.e. clam shells, monster walks etc. Master these movements first, then introduce the single leg exercises.
Hockey: There is a big hip drive in the skating motion, therefore challenge your glutes, hamstrings in your workouts and try to mimic the skating motion in your exercises. Some common exercises I prescribe for hockey players are lunges in multiple directions (forward, 45 degrees, lateral, backward), lateral and 45 degree single leg hops (can add a BOSU ball to make this more difficult) and single leg deadlifts.
Swimming: There is a lot of shoulder and core strength required for swimming. Some exercises I would prescribe for swimmers would be push ups, bird-dog (table top opposite arm/leg raise), resistance band lat pull downs. Again, form is key to be efficient, however strength training outside of the pool will translate to making your swimming stroke easier and more effective!
These are some examples of sport specific training. Of course to help you become a better runner you must run and to become a better hockey player you must skate and practice hockey and to become a better swimmer you must swim. However in my experience I have treated a lot of athletes who don’t strength train, and once they finally implemented some exercises, they not only improved in their sport but also had fewer injuries!
So think about your workouts and your performance in your sport. What are you missing? Are you getting functionally stronger to perform better on the ice, on the road or in the pool? As an Athletic Therapist I create tailored strength programs for my patients to whatever sport or activity they participate in. So whatever your sport may be you can improve your performance through proper training. Get started today!