B.A.S.E. Sports Conditioning – Articles 31

 Hybrid Training

Multi-tasking your muscles.

By Mike Mejia, CSCS

One of the most difficult tasks for any athlete is trying to maintain their level of fitness once the season has started. While the off-season offers the perfect opportunity to make wholesale changes in things like strength, speed and power, as soon as the games start to count, things change dramatically.

All of the sudden your schedule is so filled with practicing, playing and keeping up with your schoolwork that you can barely find any time to stay in somewhat decent shape strength-wise – nevermind holding on to the all those radical gains you made over the course of the off-season. And yet, keeping yourself physically strong for the entire season is what’s going to allow you to play at your best and reduce your risk of injury.

So, just how is a busy student athlete expected to devote time to staying fit (beyond just practicing and playing), despite an increasingly hectic schedule? Enter hybrid exercises: lifts that incorporate multiple movement patterns to provide the ultimate athletic training stimulus!

Unlike more traditional exercises that focus on specific body segments, often through a single plane of motion, hybrid lifts pose a much greater challenge to bio-motor skills such as balance, coordination and spatial awareness. Meaning that they require you to develop a greater sense of the way your body moves through space — a key skill for any sport, especially one as physically demanding as lacrosse. They’re also incredibly time efficient and offer a terrific way to increase workout intensity.

About the only downside when training with hybrids is that you’ll be limited to using only as much weight as you can handle for the weakest part of each lift. For example, if you’re doing a combination squat and overhead press, you can only use as much as you can safely push up overhead with good form. Needless to say, this may not be enough load to completely fatigue your legs.

When you stop and think about it, though, given all the running around you’re already doing on the field, keeping your legs a little bit fresher is actually a good thing! You can still work on maintaining some of the gains you made during the off-season, yet have plenty of juice left in the tank for practices and games. Plus, you’ll be training the kind of integrated movements you’ll need to excel on the playing field.

Try the following exercises as either paired supersets (where you preform one exercise after the other with no rest until both are completed, then rest for 60-90 seconds), or as a grueling circuit, by doing all six in a row and then resting for 90-120 seconds before going around for a second time. Either way your bound to get a great workout that will give you a whole new understanding for the way your body was designed to work: as an integrated movement machine, and not just a bunch of unrelated muscle groups.

Squat to Row: Stand facing a low pulley holding the bottom rope handle with your arms outstretched in front of you. Begin by sitting your hips back into a squat as you keep your torso upright. Once your thighs are parallel to the ground, push back up as you simultaneously pull the handles towards your torso, emphasizing your upper back. Let your arms back out as you sit into a squat again and repeat. Try 10-12 repetitions.

Side Plank and Press: Anchor a resistance band to a sturdy object positioned behind you. Next, grab the other end of the band and face away from the anchoring point. With your top arm bent so that you see your hand just in front of your armpit, hold the side plank position as you press your arm out. Hold for a second when your arm is at the furthest point from your body, then slowly return to the starting position. Try 10-12 reps, then switch sides.

Unilateral Romanian Deadlift and Reverse Fly: Stand holding a pair of light dumbbells at arms length in front of you. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, soften one knee and balance on that leg, as you execute a hip hinge and lean your torso forward. As you do so work the dumbbells up into a reverse fly and extend your back leg straight out behind you. When your torso and arms are just about parallel o the ground, forming the letter T, hold for a second, then lower and repeat. Try 8-10 reps, then switch sides.

Pull-up with leg raise: Set yourself up under a chin up bar and grab in with a pronated (overhand) grip. Begin by executing a pull-up until your chin clears the bar. Then hold the top position as you bring your legs up and in towards your chest; making sure to slightly round your tailbone as you do so. Lower your legs, lower back down and repeat. Try 6-10 reps.

Bulgarian Split Squat and Press: Stand in front of an exercise bench positioned about 2 to 2 1/2 feet behind you. Begin by balancing on one leg and placing the instep of the back foot on the bench. Lift a dumbbell up to shoulder’s height on the same side as the elevated rear foot. As you begin descending down until your front thigh is parallel to the ground, simultaneously prss the dumbbell overhead. In the bottom position your back knee should be almost touching the ground, with the same side arm pressed directly over head so that your biceps end up alongside your ear. Be sure not to excessively arch the back in this position. Stand back up as you lower the dumbbell and repeat the sequence until you’ve done 8-10 reps. Then switch sides.

Pull to Push: Not really a true hybrid exercise, but this one does combine two movements into one challenging core drill. Begin standing aside a cable station with a rope handle. Grab the handle with the hand furthest away from the cable station and adopt a ready, athletic stance. Begin by using your upper back and arm to pull the weight across your torso. As soon as you’ve cleared enough room to free your right arm, bring around in one sweeping motion and turn the pull, onto a push. Return the weight back to the starting position and repeat for 10-12 reps, then switch sides.  

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