Why College Ultimate Teams Should Follow A Strength & Conditioning Plan

Club sports fairs, first tryouts, fresh-faced freshmen: the pillars of fall college ultimate have already started to get built for the 2019-2020 season.

Many teams are just beginning to think about teaching the basics of throwing a forehand or setting a vertical stack. But it’s also time to start thinking about your plan for strength and conditioning training for the season.

Letting everyone do their own thing often means that some people slack off and others train ineffectively. It can be hard to keep everyone on the same page and maximize the effectiveness of their time in the gym, at the track, or on the field.

Here are some reasons to get a team-wide strength and conditioning plan.

1. You have to build a foundation.

You can’t expect to lift for six weeks before Regionals and reap serious dividends in your game play. It takes time to build a strength base, and there’s really no better time to start than now.

Given the relatively relaxed nature of the fall season, you can set your team up for success in the late spring by getting into the weight room a couple days a week.

2. Training together means better camaraderie — and better gym sessions.

It helps a lot to be following a workout plan together. Players can share their experiences, and getting people to the gym together is a lot easier when you’ll be doing the same workouts.

Lock down that squat rack and cycle four people through. Be there to spot each other’s lifts. Push each other to do one more burpee.

And using Breakside Strength and Conditioning’s easy-to-use mobile app, you’ll be able to coordinate workouts between your entire team, chat with each other, and even rank yourself amongst your teammates on the leaderboards.

3. It’s best to leave the workout planning to experts.

There’s a lot to practice and learn with a college team. Spending time planning workouts shouldn’t be your focus. You’ll want to work on teaching throwing, strategy, and other ultimate-specific topics.

Letting experts, who will tailor workouts to your team and your season, take workout planning off of your hands. You just have to show up with your teammates and train hard.

4. You’ll play better — and stay healthier.

It’s hard to overstate how important a well-built strength and conditioning plan can be to your success as a team.

Consistent training leads to better expression of athleticism, more endurance, faster cutters, and more dynamic handlers, not to mention a much more injury-resistant group of players.

Staying healthy — “the best ability is availability” — is a crucial part of any team’s success, and nothing makes you better able to weather the demands of a long season and four game tournament days like a great training program.

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If you’re interested in learning more about a Breakside Strength and Conditioning team plan, check out the team subscribe page and reach out to coaches@breaksidestrength.com for a free consultation! We will discuss your your team’s season and take you through your customized workout programming.

With team-wide leaderboards and chat built into the app, you’ll have fun while getting into great shape!

Right now, a season plan (normally 7 months) comes with an additional month free! You can start training today and have access to our training program, mobile app, and direct access to coaches for your entire team through College Nationals.

How Much Weight Should I Be Lifting?

One of the first questions that you will be wondering when you start on a Breakside S&C program is, “How much weight should I be lifting?”

Well, it depends.

Let’s take a moment to zoom out and understand a basic concept of human performance. When we train -- whether by lifting weights, doing pushups, running sprints, or doing any other physical activity -- we are trying to put a sufficient stress on our body that it reacts and adjusts to be ready for that stimulus again.

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The Top Three Ultimate Training Myths

As the athleticism in ultimate has continued to expand, more players than ever are adding off-field training to their repertoire. That’s a great development for the sport: a proper strength and conditioning program will develop speed, explosiveness, power, and resistance to injury. However, there are still some stubborn misconceptions about optimal training for ultimate. Let’s break them down.

1. Lifting weights will make me bulky and slow.

I’m glad to say that this myth is a lot less prevalent now than it was a few years ago, but there are still a lot of players who avoid the weight room because of this idea. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

While it is possible for a poorly designed weight training protocol (like a bodybuilding program designed to build mass) to hurt on-field performance, any program that focuses on developing strength, speed, and power is going to have huge benefits for expressing athleticism.

Most ultimate players (including many elite ones!) are leaving a lot on the table by not developing the engines (muscles) that drive performance. Improving the ability to put force into the ground — which is what sport-focused resistance and speed training is designed to do — is how you get faster, more agile, and more explosive.

Don’t fear the barbell! Starting on a program at Breakside Strength & Conditioning will give you a protocol for workouts no matter your level of experience. Continue reading “The Top Three Ultimate Training Myths”

The 3 Planes of Movement and Why They Matter

The first several chapters of any training certification textbook are filled with rather basic (baseline) science. Lever types, muscle anatomy, and cellular biology all receive an overview, seemingly just to check off boxes that the certifying agency has deemed necessary. It’s commonly acknowledged among coaches is that while this knowledge is certainly necessary, it isn’t always front-of-mind when coaching. Strength and conditioning coach Martin Rooney routinely jokes at coaching seminars “who remembers the Krebs cycle?” A question which almost always receives a combination groan/laugh from coaches he’s addressing (some nervously hiding the fact that they’ve forgotten entirely what the Krebs cycle is). The frequency with which this knowledge is referenced, doesn’t make it any less important, but the gap between the foundational necessity and the applied usefulness of this information is not.

One of the core concepts that is typically contained in this chapter is “planes of movement”. This concept is typically illustrated by a drawing of a faceless outline of a person who is bisected by 3 planes. It’s a simple enough image that almost anyone would gloss over the adjoining paragraph thinking “ok I get that, let’s get to the real stuff”. However, these planes are a great framework for designing workouts, cueing movements and improving agility.

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How I Discovered The Importance of Strength Training

I’ve always been an athlete. I started playing basketball when I was five or six years old in my local YMCA league. I played through junior varsity in high school, when I got sick of the coaching staff and quit. I started running track and playing football (for two years) in middle school, and I even tried wrestling (hated it).

Eventually, I started playing ultimate with my friends during free periods and after lunch. First, we played with an aerobie before getting a Wham-O. We entered a local tournament in Albuquerque the summer before my junior year of high school — we were just a ragtag bunch, but we had a lot of fun and met Jerry, who wanted to be our coach. We started a high school team that upcoming spring.

In many ways, I feel like a pretty typical ultimate player. Played middle and high school sports, but never really stood out. Discovered ultimate and loved it. Started playing more and more ultimate, especially in college.

One thing that was never much a part of my sports participation until many years later was strength training. I did plenty of sprint work in track and field, and I was lucky to be naturally fast. I was the fastest 8th grader in Albuquerque in the 100 meter dash.

My high school had what was, looking back, a really nice weight room. Along with the usual machines and racks, it had Olympic lifting platforms, boxes for jumping, and a scary-looking monster lifter of a coach who was the sweetest guy on campus.

There were specified gym days for track, but I was never really that into it. I think I was intimidated by the lifts, and I also grew up at a time when people thought that if you lifted weights as a young teenager that you would stunt your growth (super false).

I started getting more serious about lifting as a junior in college. I was abroad in Argentina that year, and we had plenty of time to get to the gym. I just went with my buddies from the ultimate team (there were three of us in Buenos Aires) and we bopped around doing a lot of bench press and not many squats. I also went to a boxing gym where I couldn’t understand anyone’s street spanish and I learned what an actually hard workout was.

Back in New York as a captain at NYU, I was lifting more and more. I had read Tim Ferriss’ book “A Four Hour Body,” which has a chapter about getting really strong by just deadlifting and bench pressing with box jumps and plyo pushups as assistance exercises. So, that’s what I did! Pretty unsophisticated, but, honestly, you could do a lot worse, especially considering that we were playing a lot and doing a lot of sprinting and conditioning at practices and team workouts.

Still, though, I didn’t really know what I was doing.

Continue reading “How I Discovered The Importance of Strength Training”