Welcome back to this ongoing series of “Are you doing what you should to be physically ready for winter?” To get caught up you can read the earlier articles for the months of June and July. Let’s talk about where we are now. It is a little past the halfway point of August which means we are in the "specific preparation phase" part 2 of 2 which will conclude at the end of the month. So what’s recommended during this phase with respect to strengthening and conditioning?
The parameters for the strengthening exercises in the specific preparation phase part 1/2 (July) was meant to develop strength and build up strength endurance. The parameter goals for August progresses to create hypertrophy of the muscle. You can think of “hypertrophy” training as loading the body with enough weight to break down the muscles at the smallest level in order for it to grow back larger and stronger than before. One possible way of achieving this is to maintain or increase the sets while decreasing the repetitions. For example, changing the sets and repetitions from 1-2 sets of 15-25 reps in the previous phase to now 3-4 sets of 8-15 repetitions for August. Make sure to add enough external weight so that by the end of set you will have felt like it was difficult to complete. If you would like to add tempo to your exercises then it should reflect hypertrophy goals. An example tempo could be low bar back squats with a 2-1-2-1 tempo. Meaning 2 seconds lowering into the squat, 1 second hold at the bottom of the squat, 2 seconds to stand back up, and 1 second rest at the top of the squat before transitioning to the next repetition.
The type of strengthening exercises for this phase don’t fundamentally change: squats, deadlifts, and leg presses are still prioritized but different variations can be introduced to target slightly different muscle groups. For example squats can be performed with two kettlebells, low back or high back barbell techniques to target the quadriceps or gluteal muscles respectively. Deadlifts can be performed using the hex bar or barbell. Single leg squats can be introduced through split squat patterns on level ground to master coordination and control. Upper body strengthening exercises should be performed in separate push and pull days, and were talked about in more detail in an earlier post. The parameters for the upper body strengthening exercises are the same for the lower body. During this phase examples of push exercises include push ups, incline dumbbell bench press, and ½ kneeling pallof presses. Examples of pull exercises include body weight assisted pull ups, seated rows, and single arm kettlebell farmer carries.
Conditioning for the months of June of July focused on building and maintaining an aerobic base without exceeding a certain RPE score through exercises like running, cycling, swimming, or the ski erg. In addition to that conditioning, August can be a good time to introduce jump and speed training to supplement the aerobic base. Jump and speed workouts can consist of forward and lateral box jump overs, broad jumps for distance, and 5x5 yard box drills that can be performed on the same day as lower or upper body strengthening exercises without a compromise in hypertrophy building in the muscle. We will check again in September.
Dr. Benjamin Costa, PT, DPT, CA Lic# 42459
US Ski Team-Rotational Physical Therapist