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Build strength and size by lifting weights.
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Whatever sport you play, as much as practicing on the field helps your performance, you also need to hit the gym to stay competitive. Increasing strength, speed and power with weight training will make you a better athlete. Female athletes should train in a very similar manner to men, notes strength coach Joe Giandonato, with an emphasis on free-weights, heavy loads and multi-joint exercises.
Suiting Your Schedule
Building strength is important, but it shouldn't overshadow your team training and coaching practices. If you already have a hectic schedule, Giandonato suggests two weight workouts per week, with the first focusing on the lower body and the second on the upper body. Aim to space these workouts fairly evenly throughout the week by taking at least two days of rest between workouts.
Awesome Upper Body
To hit your upper body in a way that will not only build functional strength for sports, but also sculpt a shapely physique, base your routine around compound moves. Strength coach Molly Galbraith suggests using exercises like chin-ups, for which you can use an assisted machine if needed; dumbbell presses; cable face pulls; and barbell floor presses, performed like a bench press, but lying on the floor. You can also use similar exercises, such as shoulder presses, pushups and cable or dumbbell rows.
The queen of lower-body exercises for women is the deadlift, according to trainer Shannon Clark. It improves athletic performance and also develops your core, glutes and lower back. Strength coach Mike Boyle adds that single-leg moves can be particularly beneficial for women, as women are at a higher risk of knee ligament injuries than men. Make sure exercises such as split squats, single-leg deadlifts and lunges find their way into your routine.
The Game Plan
Early in the week, hit your lower body. Start with a deadlift variation for five sets of three to five repetitions, then move onto a single-leg exercise and a posterior-chain move for three sets of 10 to 15 reps each. Reverse dumbbell lunges and kettlebell swings or body-weight split squats and glute bridges work well here. Finish off with one or two core exercises, such as planks or ab-wheel rollouts. For your upper session, perform two pushing exercises and two pulling exercises. Pushes include any type of bench press or shoulder press, dips and pushups. Pulls are chin-ups or pull-downs and any rowing variation. Complete four sets of eight reps on one push and one pull and three sets of 12 on the others.