I’ve been asked this question quite a bit by my fans and so I wanted to give you an outline for what you should be working on in the gym and in your training sessions.
For most of it, I would recommend going to a personal trainer who has experience training athletes and has some sport specific training and knows the fundamental movements as many of these exercises/workouts will have to be done correctly or else you won’t get benefit from them or even worse, you’ll get injured.
This post is based on my years of playing sports and seeing what skills it takes to be successful in a variety of different sports (provincial champion in swimming and hockey, 2nd in soccer and rugby, provincial finalist in track and field, 2 bronze medals at the Canadian Ultimate Championships, World Champion in canine disc distance and 3 world records). It’s also based on training for sports since I was a kid and having only suffered one major injury (broken ankle playing hockey). It’s based on working for a gym for the past 2 years in marketing which involves me talking to personal trainers on a regular basis and doing a lot of reading, watching videos and documentaries and learning as much as I can about the industry. I’m not a movement expert so I won’t be telling you how to do a proper deadlift or squat in this post – that’s what the experts are for. What I will be telling you are the skills and subsequent fitness elements that you should be working on at the gym and in your track workouts.
This post is also influenced by a great article from Melissa Witmer at Ultimate Results called Movement Analysis: Lateral vs Forward Motion. Basically she did a study of 3 players from Southpaw (open team, Philly) who were recorded during a pool play game at Bell Crack 2010. Their motions were then categorized and timed. The categories of motion were walking/standing, jogging, running, shuffling, and sprinting. Only motions exceeding about 2 seconds were recorded. What I found surprising about her study was the amount of time handlers spent moving laterally. When you put it in the context of a game it’s not surprising but I would argue that we don’t spend near enough time working on lateral movement and so I also recommend some fitness elements which will help with this movement.
First, as I recommended, I would suggest getting some sort of program developed by a personal trainer and be very specific about your goals, timeline, etc. You can probably get a good program developed for a few hundred dollars and you could split the cost amongst your team. It’s good to switch up what you’re doing every 4-6 weeks roughly depending on the type of exercises. For me, right now I’m on a 4 week cycle.
Specifically for ultimate, you will want to improve speed, power, strength, recovery and mobility. Olympic lifting is great for power and speed and strength. The video I posted with the Prayers exercise is great for mobility and will also help your power. You can do interval training or Tabata type training to help with your recovery and speed. I like a simple interval running workout – run fast for 2 minutes and jog for 1 minute. Alternate for 20-30 minutes. You’ll find this will help you in ultimate a lot. You can also do telephone poles – basically you sprint from one pole to the next, jog to the next one, sprint the next one, and so on. Also, you’ll want to focus a lot on your hips (power and mobility) and single leg exercises (squats, lunges) to help develop stability in your knees, hips and ankles which will help you be able to play longer and help prevent injuries.
What I’ve found has really been helping me feel more free in my movements and my power has been olympic lifts and the fundamental movements involved. Squats, deadlifts, cleans, snatches, clean and jerks. I’ve found that my posture has improved, my vertical has improved, my speed has improved, my recovery has improved and my throwing power has improved. I’m throwing longer than ever before. And that’s just after a few months of being on a program – most of that time has been spent learning how to actually do the movements and just recently, I’ve been adding more and more weight so I expect those results to continue.
There are always opinions about what is the best way to train but as I said, this is what I recommend based on all of my experience, learning, teaching, listening and observation.
How do you approach training for ultimate?