“I’ve always felt it was not up to anyone else to make me give my best.” – Hakeem Olajuwon
While the 2012 Summer Olympics is happening in London, this article focuses on the physical dimension of personal wellness. As the Olympics continue to unfold, spectators all over the world not only cheer for their team, but also marvel at the athletic performance and prowess of modern Olympic athletes. Each Olympics showcases athletes who are faster, stronger, reach higher, and more agile. New Olympic or world records will be set as the Olympics progress.
Though not all people can be Olympic athletes, they can be athletes in their own right. People already involved in sports, any physical fitness regimen, or in dancing even would have good understanding on two or more aspects of physical performance and conditioning. Aspects of physical performance include strength and power, speed and agility, endurance, flexibility, and balance. Sports Training Adviser breaks down these aspects in more detail.
The following are brief description of training strategies that experts share for each aspect of physical performance:
Strength and power. Weight training and resistance training use the body’s muscle and bone strength when lifting weights or moving against resistance. Training with weights include working with the natural body weight. Push-up, chin-up, free-form jump squat, and sprinting are few examples of using natural body weight. Other weight training of course include using free weights and weight machines. Resistance training includes using resistance tubes and resistance running to name a few. Benefits of strength and power training include increasing muscle mass and bone mass or at least retaining mass especially as people get older.
Speed and agility. Speed and agility is more than moving quickly in one direction, but also refers to the ability to change direction quickly and instinctively. This skill is crucial among soccer and tennis players. While resistance running also helps speed, agility will require drills that challenges the body to turn from one direction to the next and to switch from one body movement to another as in track hurdles, forward to lateral movement, and obstacle courses. Speed and agility training includes cone drills, ladder drills, and lateral drills to name a few.
Endurance. Training for endurance consists of aerobic or cardio routines. Aerobic activities use the body’s capacity to use oxygen (aero) while the heart, lungs, and muscles work overtime. Aerobic activities include aerobic routines on the floor, jogging, running, cycling, swimming, and prolong walking. Benefits of endurance training include improving cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and converting body fat to energy.
Flexibility. Joint movement, and stretching and holding the position improves flexibility with consistent practise. Yoga contributes extremely well in this aspect. Benefits of flexibility training is ensuring the body retain its full range of motion. Gymnasts, dancers, and divers.
Balance. Core training and stability training challenge the body’s ability to reposition and realign thereby addressing any displacement of the body’s center of gravity. Same as strength and power, balance is required in all sports. Surfers, ice skaters, and boarders have good balance. Elizabeth Quinn, an exercise physiologist and sports medicine writer, said that “sprains and strains have to do with balance” or proprioception. Training to improve balance includes walking on a straight line (as if on a balance beam), standing on one leg while lifting free weights, and balancing on a stability ball. Yoga also contributes well in this aspect.
Incorporating each aspect as part of an exercise routine will help improve or maintain physical condition and movement. Additionally, mixing up the aspects being targeted in any fitness program keeps the body from reaching plateau and helps in improving or maintaining coordination.
Please seek a medical professional before starting any fitness program, and stay hydrated.