With summer now long gone and the days of endless sunshine and competitions in the past, the time has come to reset and get back to work in the off season! You might think the off season actually means time off, but really it’s a couple short weeks of freedom then back to full-time training. The new year holds boundless potential, so I have to plan to maximize fall and winter training for the upcoming 2019 spring and summer season. I love to think of every season as the process of building a house. Over the next year, I get to design something truly specific, solid, and special all the way from the ground up. Having a plan and watching it come to fruition exactly how I imagined it from the foundation to the final touches is SO exciting.
To initiate the process, I fast forward 10 months into the future and imagine looking back on the season. What are the things I’ve accomplished? What will validate all the upcoming hard work? How will I gain valuable experience? This is where I let myself dream crazy ideas. A girl can and should dream ;) In our house analogy, this is drawing up the blueprints. By seeing our future selves, it helps to determine what we want our final home to look like. In order to accomplish this vision, we have to start with making a really strong base.
As athletes, we aim to build a foundation that is durable, healthy, and adaptable—one that will be able to handle any trials and tribulations thrown its way over the upcoming months. While many people think throwers train only by throwing, we actually prepare by doing much more. We focus on making the whole system strong. I love to envision we are building our base with concrete and steel. Something really freaking tough. To do this, I credit my coach who has us complete a wide variety of training. This includes weightlifting variations of power cleans/snatches (MY FAVE), presses, and jerks. As well as circuits, sprints, plyos, yoga and biking to work on overall fitness. All of this comes together to make a wonderful combo of power, strength, and high intensity anaerobic training. Building the house takes time, discipline, patience, and attention to detail. I recommend trying these three supplementary exercises as a good and challenging starting point for building your house.
Med Ball Push Ups: If you like a challenge, then you’ll loveeee these. These still kick my ass whenever we do them. Start by going into the high plank on top of the ball. At first, just hold this position and feel your core engage as it adjusts to find balance on top of the ball. Make sure your chest is expanded and your glutes feel like they are tucking toward your belly button. Once you feel comfortable in this position, slowly lower your body down and bring your chest towards the ball. Right before your chest touches the ball, hold for 3 seconds in the bottom of your push up position. Then as controlled as possible, extend your arms back to your high plank without letting your legs or core give. Your whole body is going to have to work together to coordinate the movement which is what makes it so good. At first, begin with 5 push ups then slowly increase your reps and the time you hold at the bottom of each push up.
Battle Ropes: Battle ropes are KILLER. While at first they may look a teensy bit intimidating, you can get the hang of them pretty quickly and feel like a baller while doing them. At most gyms, they will have one of these set up so all you need to do is grab the handles at the end and have a clock nearby. There are so many variations you can do! You can make small oscillating waves, big in sync waves, side waves, small circles, etc. A good starting point to get the hang of them is to begin with small waves. Bend your knees and set good posture, and as your right hand comes up, send your left hand down, then switch. You want your ropes to look like a sine and cosine wave crossing each other with the goal to make the wave travel all the way through the rope to its connection point at the wall. Once you get this one, try keeping your hands together (go up and down together) and making HUGE WAVES. Keep your good posture but extend through your hips to maximize the energy you put into the ropes. Try to do four different variations of movement each for 20 seconds back to back then take a 2-3 minute rest break. Try to do it three times through. As you get more comfortable and stronger with your movements, you can increase the time for each of them. Prepare for your arms to get that really good battle burn and for your heart to be pumping :-)
Russian Twists: These are such a classic. Grab a med ball, sit with your legs crossed in front of you, then pick your feet up off the ground. With your arms straight, take the med ball from one side of your body to the other and lightly tap the ground. Imagine there is a string from your sternum to the ball and try to keep it taught and straight as you twist from side to side. To get the full benefit of this exercise, the key is to go very slooooowly. Start by doing 3 sets of 20 taps on each side. As you master this exercise, you can increase its difficulty by upping the weight of the medball or/and straightening your legs in front of you (imagine making V with your body). This exercise will fire up your obliques and strengthen your core.
Exercises like these are intentional and should be quite challenging. During them, my body is firing on all cylinders, and at the end feels so gratified by the work completed. While these exercises are just a small part of building a base, the way they require the body to holistically work is what’s important! Take time to think about your own body and the areas you think you need to strengthen. Every year when constructing a house, apply what you have learned from the previous versions you have built and figure out ways to improve it. This reflection will yield valuable insights. Thinking thoughtfully about previous injuries, challenging performances, mental breakdowns and how you can proactively do things now to prevent them from happening again can make a huge difference in your confidence when it comes time to compete. The goal is that with each year your house becomes more and more refined and the changes get smaller and smaller while the house becomes stronger and more designed exactly to your liking.
From blueprints to base building, these are the starting steps towards a new season and fresh start. Hope you like the exercises and your home building comes along well :)
Wishing you and your family a warm and wonderful holiday season.