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RYPT: Staying Game Ready During Covid-19 PART-2
Written by
Bobby Smith, MS, CSCS, *D, RSCC *D & Pat Livesey, MS, CSCS

The second important training principle or pillar to focus on during this time of uncertainty is strength and power maintenance.  Some of us are lucky to have some resources available to us within our homes such as dumbbells in the basement, exercise bands from our parents 90s workout videos, or a weighted ball we found in the garage.  Others of us have absolutely nothing except our own bodyweight, and the hundreds of “at-home workouts” posted on social media.  All these are good to have available to choose from, but keep in mind that very few of these online workouts are designed for competitive athletes.  What is going to help us, as athletes, stay game ready for whatever may come next? Read on to find out!

Speaking from a scientific standpoint, the difference between having power and having strength is the ability to move with greater speed.  Power requires the body to overcome resistance in a shorter amount of time.  We can see this example when we compare two exercises such as a heavy squat and a vertical jump.  Both exercises require similar movement from the lower body, however the heavy squat will be performed much slower than a vertical jump.  As athletes, we absolutely need to perform both of these, but when and how?  That’s where we come in for help. The simple answer to that question is that it depends on the goal of the exercise. If you want to develop power, you must move quickly.  A well-respected peer in the fitness industry, Eric Cressey, who was just hired as Director of Player Health and Performance for the New York Yankees, said it best. “We need to make sure we are maintaining power, and one of the best ways to do that, other than sprinting, is to JUMP.”

So where do you start?

Let’s JUMP!

Every jump can serve a specific purpose. We need to develop power in different planes of motion since all sports require the body to move in many different directions.  To simplify it, we want to jump vertically and horizontally, as well as on two feet and one foot, thereby simulating what you do in sports.  You can perform jumps as max power by jumping as high as you can one time or repeated power by jumping many times in a row and maintaining the same height each time.  For example, if we focus on jumping vertically, you can attempt to touch backboard / rim on a basketball hoop in your driveway or grab a jump rope and do repeated jumps on two feet.  Alternatively, we want to focus on jumping horizontally, where you can attempt a long jump or repeated jumps moving forward.  These are great examples of bilateral or double leg jumps.  To focus on unilateral or single leg jumps, you can perform these same movements, just by jumping and landing on one leg, or if you are not quite ready for that, you can jump off two legs and land on one.  It is always important to progress, and regress exercises based on training age and ability to perform the task.

Photo Ray Richardson Photography
Photo Ray Richardson Photography

Power is the first thing to decrease during down time, but strength is super important to maintain as well, as you cannot have one without the other.

So, let’s STRENGTEN!

It is clear to all of us that having access to gym equipment and fancy machines is not available during this time, so we have to make do with what we have in our homes.  Unless you do not have social media, you have probably seen hundreds of “at-home” workout posts online. As I mentioned earlier in this article, be conscientious that these are not always the ‘best’ option for us as athletes since athletes have specific needs that should be addressed.  RYPT has begun Virtual Training sessions which are run by extremely qualified and educated RYPT coaches.  This is an amazing opportunity to stay ahead of the game.

But what can you do if you are unable to do the RYPT Virtual Training sessions or in addition to these sessions?  The old saying goes “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”�� We want to share some tips with you to make your at-home workouts challenging, fun, and beneficial.  Without all the fancy equipment we are limited to simple basic exercises. A few ways to make simple exercises harder are to change the time variable, change the tempo of the exercise, adding a load, or adding a jump.

Let’s take an exercise such as a bodyweight squat and talk about how it could be made more challenging.  By changing the time variable, you can alter the “work-to-rest” ratio.  If the total time allotted was :30 seconds, for beginners it may work to perform squats for 10 seconds and then rest 20 seconds before starting up again.  As that becomes easy, add time to the “work” portion and take away time from the “rest” portion.  So next time you may perform squats for 15 seconds and rest for 15 seconds.  The overall time has stayed :30 seconds total, but you are working for longer and resting for shorter.  Time variables can be a great way to increase your heartrate while still gaining some strength components.

PT-2 Photo-2
Photo Ray Richardson Photography

Another way to progress simple exercises is to change the tempo of the exercise.  There are 3 types of movement that we refer to in the strength and conditioning field, eccentric, isometric, and concentric.  An eccentric movement is the “down” portion of the squat.  By slowing the downward motion of the squat, we are creating more time under tension for the lower body muscle groups and our body needs to work harder.  The isometric movement is the “holding” portion at the bottom of the squat.  Before we rise back up to a standing position, if we can hold ourselves at the bottom of a squat longer, again, we increase the time under tension, allowing our body to gain strength in that position.  The concentric movement is the “upward” portion of the squat and is where our power is developed.  This portion of the squat should be performed with increased tempo as to work toward developing power.  By adding time under tension for the eccentric and isometric portions of exercises, and moving quickly to return to the start position, we can drastically make the exercise harder. Simply put, to make a squat harder without loading it, go down slowly, pause at the bottom, and explode upward back to start position.

Another way that we want to teach you how to progress a simple exercise is to add a load to the lift.  If you are performing a bodyweight squat, you do not need a barbell with weights on it to make it more challenging.  Instead, pack a backpack full of books, hold a weighted ball, hold your dog in your arms, GET CREATIVE.  This is a time where your imagination will help you become a better athlete if you allow yourself to be creative and try new things.

The last way to increase the intensity of an exercise is to make it explosive. You can take that same squat and turn it into a squat jump. Perform 10 in a row and now it becomes a plyometric exercise, a strength exercise, and a cardiovascular exercise all in one.

So now you have the know how to take any exercise and make it harder. So have fun, work hard, and get ready for that day when you are back in the game.

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Stay tuned for the next 2 pillars! Have fun and stay RYPT!

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