By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM-CPT
It's easy to see how using a treadmill can make running more
accessible or how a stationary bike can help get a cyclist through the winter,
but fitness equipment can also help athletes of all types prepare for and
recover from the demands of their sport.
You can use a variety of fitness equipment to build fitness and strength
while working gradually into the specific demands of sports such as basketball
and soccer. The key to effective
training with fitness equipment is to follow a progression that develops
pre-season fitness before gradually integrating specific surfaces on which you
will be competing.
Stage One: Build your
base. If you've spent your off-season
keeping the couch warm, start building your fitness early. Your goal is to build up endurance and avoid
injury, while burning calories that will help you lose unnecessary weight. Work at 65-75% of your maximum heart rate
(220 - your age x .65 or 75) on your chosen cardio equipment. Work up to half an hour three times per week,
though if you're looking to lose weight, you'll need to do more than this.
Stage Two: Add
intervals. Intervals will increase your
lactic acid threshold, allowing you to work with greater power and intensity
and will lead to a greater calorie burn both during and after exercise. Begin by warming up for five minutes working
up to 75% of your maximum heart rate, then work up to 76-85% of your max for
one minute. Allow yourself to recover,
dropping back into your warm-up zone of less than 75% for at least two
minutes. Repeat this pattern, looking
for the heart rate to lower during each recovery period. Finish your workout with a five minute cool
down in your recovery zone. Start by
adding this workout in once per week, rotating with your Stage One
workout. As you get fitter, increase
intervals to twice per week with more time spent at your higher heart rate (up
to two minutes).
Stage Three: Increase
Intensity. After working up to two
minute intervals, twice per week, you're ready to add a higher end
workout. As in Stage Two, begin with a
full warm up. During your second
interval, take your heart rate higher, working up to 86-90% of your maximum
heart rate. Hold this heart rate for one
minute, then, recover for two to five minutes between peaks in order to let
your heart rate return to 75%. Rotate
this workout with your Stage One and Stage Two workouts. Complete no more than three interval workouts
per week and give yourself at least one lower intensity (rest or stage one)
workout between interval days.
Start Your Season: Train in Stage Three for four to eight
weeks before returning to a recovery week at Stage One. After your recovery week, begin training on
the surface you will use for competition.
In-season training should include jogs, sprints, and multi-directional
drills that will put you into top competition form. Using fitness equipment to return to Stage One
during the season's demanding times can be useful to allow for recovery and to
decrease the risk of overtraining and injury.