Here’s how to ensure that you’re really ready for college.
Having signed your letter of intent, what’s your next step before setting foot on campus? Below are five workout tips selected to help properly prepare you for the rigors of college athletics.
Learn to Hydrate
You’ll learn pretty quickly that college practices and workouts are much more demanding than those of your high school days. And with fall one of the hottest times of the year, hydration will play a huge role in helping you ward off heat exhaustion and heat stroke. So, carry a water bottle with you everywhere you go, always keep it filled, and try to drink over a gallon of water per day. Water plays an important role in muscular contraction (>70% of muscles are water) as well as many major functions in your body.
Awareness of Overtraining
Grinding out three workouts a day isn’t going to help you elevate your game. Be smarter than that. Your body needs rest for your muscles to repair themselves (as well as for your central nervous system to reset). My suggestion? Periodize your workout. Through periodization, you’ll be able to progressively overload yourself without overtraining.
There are two types of periodization, linear, and non-linear. I’ve used both personally, as well as with my athletes, and have seen great benefits. I recommend linear periodization for athletes lacking a huge background in weight lifting. Non-linear programs allow you to lift heavier weights more often, and thus recommend them for more advanced lifters. As for conditioning, increase your workload (yards covered) by 10-20% per week, depending on whether you’re adding resistance (sled, prowler, etc).
The Importance of a Warmup
We’ve all been in the gym and seen “that guy” who does a couple neck rolls and arm circles before benching. For your sake, I hope “that guy” isn’t you. If it is though, no worries, as there’s a quick fix. A proper warmup will set your body up to function at its best, as well as build you a muscular conditioning base. In fact, many incoming freshmen are fatigued from the warmup alone.
A good warmup should last 5-10 minutes, increasing both your heart, and breathing, rate. A good basic warmup before lifting can been seen in this 5 minute warmup video. Oh, and avoid static stretching (reach for your toes and hold) immediately before lifting. Static stretching has been shown in research to decrease your power output (we’re, after all, looking to increase it). Instead, foam roll and follow the warmup above.
Train Your Weaknesses
Become a student of your sport and educate yourself on how to become more successful. In doing this you’ll discover your strengths and weaknesses as an athlete. Great athletes will take these weaknesses as challenges, which is precisely why they’re great.
How, specifically, does this apply to your training? Well, if you’re a wide receiver and have problems with catching the jump ball, do more plyometrics. If you’re a post player in basketball but lack lateral movement, do more lateral agility work. Don’t shy away from training the things that are difficult for you. Doing them will turn good to great.
There are so many things that go into this category, such as stretching, sleeping, eating, and hydrating, but for now I’ll focus on stretching. Stretching is quintessential to recovery because you need to lengthen your muscles after contracting them numerous times during your workout.
The crazy thing is, stretching is so simple. You can do it anywhere. You can do it in front of the TV at night or in your dorm room while taking a break from Xbox. The biggest thing here is taking your time. If you rush through a stretching routine you won’t get the added benefits, and will end up wasting your time. Hold each stretch for 8-12 seconds and then repeat. As primary focus points, I recommend stretching at least these 3 areas (hamstring, low back, hip flexor links?).
These five tips will certainly help prepare you for collegiate athletics. Take them, make them your own, and report to school ready to win that starting spot. You’ve made that jump to college… is that the last one you want to make?