Weight Room Virgins

by | January 10, 2011, 11:00am 0

Every varsity football program has dedicated time for hitting the weights in the weight room. It is a given. But do you lift weights? If the answer is yes, you’re unfortunately in the minority. The fact is, many Ultimate players do not regularly get in the weight room.

Photo from UrbanCrossFit.com

This is most often due to three main reason: intimidation, overwhelming variety (the too-many-options problem), and not knowing where to even begin. Before I began lifting, I had no idea what to do once I got in the weight room, and was afraid of looking like a moron as I didn’t know which machines to use, if I should be using one versus another, or even how to use some of them. Plus, everything feels new/difficult, the bar feels all wobbly when you first start bench pressing, and the other guys in there (at least the ones you notice) are huge.

If any of this resonates with you, this is your guide.

Now, many collegiate weight rooms (especially in state schools) have like a billion machines. Skip them all. Your work will be done in 4 places- the bench press, the squat rack, the pull-up bar, and the ground (use a padded mat). This is my fundamental set of exercises I do every time I go to the gym, because it is simple, quick, hits the major muscle groups, and allows me the time and energy to add other more specific lifts if I have the time and energy.

1) Squat

2) Deadlift

3) Bench

4) Pull-up

5) Core work

That’s it. Those are your exercises, do them all each time you hit the gym.

But, how do I do them? How many times? How much weight?

Begin the squat, deadlift, and bench press with the bar alone. They all will feel kinda weird the first time you perform them. Then, perform 3 reps and gradually add more weight in 10lb (5 on each side) increments. When you get to a point that is moderately challenging, but you think you could add more, don’t. This is the weight you should begin with next week, where you will perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps with at least 2 minutes of rest in between. Write down this weight for each exercise.

This guy deadlifts. Do you? (Photo by Kevin Leclaire - UltiPhotos.com)

For the pull-ups, get on that bar and do as many as you can. If it’s just one, so be it– you’ve made it this far as an Ultimate player without being able to do more than one pull-up, so you have the most to gain. Rest for at least 2 minutes. Then get up and go to failure again. Rest again, then one more time. Now you have an idea of what you can do. Set a goal somewhere between your first number of pull-ups and your third, one that seems attainable to achieve through all three sets. This number could be anywhere from 2-8, but if you’ve never lifted, don’t be surprised if it’s low. This is okay. Write down this number, and how many you did today.

Finally, core work. This is where you can get creative. There are like a billion core exercises you can do, so try starting with this one:

1 minute of plank
30 seconds of side-plank
30 seconds of other side-plank
30 seconds of crunches
30 seconds of bicycle kicks
30 seconds plank variation ( go up into pushup position and back down using your hands one by one, faster is harder)
30 seconds plank variation (switch lifting one foot off the ground for 5 seconds, lift opposite arm to make it harder)
1 minute on your back and lift your body barely off the ground so you are balancing on your upper butt/tailbone – hold until failure

Now, you’ve got a workout. But what about the next one?

Next time you go to the gym, and each subsequent time, use these guidelines:

  • For the squat, deadlift, and bench, perform a total sum of between 12-30 reps, divided by any number of sets, with less reps and more sets devoted to higher weights (as this allows you to incrementally raise the weight towards your max and really push the limits of your muscles). Intersperse these heavy lifting days with lower weight, higher rep days.
  • Vary the sets/reps every single week.
  • Vary your speed in the reps. It is easy to just go down and up however you can, but if you drop the weight a bit and go down for 2 full seconds, slowly, and I mean descending for 2 seconds, not just going all the way down and holding for 2 seconds but descending down gradually over the rouse of 2 full seconds, then ascending for 2 seconds, again slowly and very controlled, you will do your body good and build those essential stabilizer muscles that add strength and prevent injury.
  • For pull-ups, if you are having trouble reaching your goal number of reps, perform “negatives” when you’ve hit your limit, where you jump yourself up into the “up” position, and slowly lower yourself down. This lets you continue to work/build the muscle beyond your ability to perform the full exercise. Also, consider using an assisted pull-up machine on these last ones.

Finally, go with a buddy. This will help you overcome the intimidation factor (which is very real I assure you), will make it way more fun and give you someone to talk to, and is also very helpful in monitoring your form, especially late in sets. Plus, they can help you load/unload weights more quickly.

To reiterate my ever-present rule, this is not perfect, and this article is for those of us that don’t go to the weight room at all for whatever reason. There are undoubtedly better workouts more finely tailored to individual players. But, this is an easy way to get into that weight room for the first time and have a simple but effective workout that can be performed in any gym, using simple equipment, in a short time period to fit most any schedule.

Now get in that weight room and get to lifting.

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