Core Beliefs: Training For Summertime Sport Performance

Written by Tim Rigby, M.A., NSCA-CPT


After a long, cold winter (plus that nasty pandemic keeps raging on), people across Canada are drooling to get outside and pursue a slate of physical activities and sports which we usually get to enjoy for only five or six months of the year.  These include such pursuits as volleyball, tennis, bicycling, golf, swimming, canoeing/kayaking, rollerblading and ultimate frisbee.  Among these sports are ones in which you can participate on a team or as an individual.  The beauty of all sports is that not only do you get to light your competitive fires by striving to achieve ultimate victory, but you also get a great workout by burning calories and developing your cardio system.

Smart athletes know that wintertime training (in all its various modes) will allow you to perform better at your summer sports.  Many such sports require players to perform a certain skill or movement, such as in tennis when you need to serve the ball hard and hit forehands and backhands.  Another example is golf, when you’re required to hit the ball (often as far as you can) by swinging a club at it.  To improve their ability in these skills, what often transpires is that people will work out with heavy resistance exercises designed to develop power in their chest, shoulders, back, arms and legs.  What’s often neglected is the fact that many sports skills depend enormously on abdominal strength and core flexibility.  To that end, Fit Deals is here to help.  Abdominal exercises can help you hit or shoot a ball harder or farther, push through water better, and increase your endurance.  Here are three of the most essential abs exercises you can perform for these athletic purposes.

HIGH-CABLE PULLEY SIDE BEND
Attach a D-handle to a cable pulley set to a high position and load the weight to your desired resistance.  Stand adjacent to the apparatus and reach up with your hand to grasp the handle with an overhand grip.  Tuck your elbow into your side and keep your upper arm as motionless as possible.  Crunch to the side so as to stimulate your obliques.  Hold in the bottom position for a second, then return using control.

THREE-QUARTER SIT-UP
Sit on the floor or an apparatus and hook your feet underneath a roller or pair of weights to keep them fixed in position.  Separate your feet to shoulder width.  Draw yourself toward the weights such that your legs become bent 90 degrees at your knees.  Place your hands on each side of your head and lower your torso slowly until it hovers just above the floor.  From there, perform a sit-up three-quarters of the way; the reason for stopping here is to keep constant tension on your abs, rather than relieving it at the full peak.  Pause a second then lower using control.

PLANK
In retrospect, it seems peculiar that the plank movement took so long to get as popular as it is these days; until only a few years ago, training your abs was almost exclusively reserved to basic sit-ups, hanging raises, reverse crunches, etc.  To perform the plank move, set your self up on the floor with your legs together and your body supported by only your toes and forearms.  Keep your arms in the plane of your shoulders, and bent 90 degrees at your elbows.  Your body should be parallel to the floor, for the most part.  Keep your head down and in line with your spine.  From there, hold.  And hold.  And hold.  Feel the burn across your core.

These key three moves will help you a great deal by strengthening your abdominal region which is often the starting point for many athletic movements.  Rotating through your core explosively will help you hit a tennis ball, golf ball and baseball farther.  It will also help you jump in volleyball, cut through the water in swimming, paddle faster in canoeing/kayaking, and pump your legs harder and stronger when bicycling.  So, when you’re training for sports performance, be intelligent and don’t forget your abs!

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