What exercises will improve my ultimate game?
June 8, 2009 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Exercise filter: I need some suggestions for leg/core strength and flexibility exercises given constrained time, equipment and space

My friend and I are training with the goal of improving our ultimate (frisbee) play. Mainly we want to be able to run faster and jump higher, but increased flexibility would be helpful too. Here's what we have to work with:

- A moderate sized (~25'x20') room with hardwood floors and a 9' ceiling
- Two yoga mats
- One treadmill and one eliptical machine
- One Ab-roller
- One 10lb medicine ball
- Two variable weight dumbells (5–40lbs)
- One chin-up bar
- Two curl bars with various plates
- One medium sized (just big enough to sit on) theraball
- Two jump ropes
- Two elastic bands with handles on the ends

We're alternating coming up with ~20 minute workout routines which we do 3x/week. Any suggestions of individual exercises, principles for putting together a routine or complete routines would be very helpful.
posted by Cogito to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
There's a really cool book called "The Body You Want in the Time You Have" that has exactly what you're looking for: exercise regimens for time constrained people, including a lot of them for leg/core strength.
posted by foooooogasm at 8:31 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Maybe do some squats while holding the medicine ball. Proper form is vital. Stronglifts.com has a lot of info about squats with free weights, but the general principles of form would apply to doing squats with a medicine ball: don't go onto the toes of your feet, squat low enough so that your thighs go beyond parallel with the ground for maximum effect, etc.

This also has the salutary effect of working your core.
posted by dfriedman at 8:40 PM on June 8, 2009

Pilates- all you need is the mat. Oh, and a book or DVD
I'm a huge fan of the book "Pilates For Men" by Elyse McIgnerney, which teaches IM=X Pilates, a system that I appreciate for its basic language and lack of overly fluffy jargon.
I'm not big on DVDs so I don't know which ones to rec.... Just beware, some of the ones touted as basic can be really tough when you're getting started.
posted by SaharaRose at 8:51 PM on June 8, 2009

For leg/core strength the one exercise I've always wished I could do: squats on an exercise ball. First learn to stand on the ball. Use your shoes and legs to dig into the ball, start under the chin up bar and use it to learn how to balance, eventually you'll be able to 'stand' on the ball with no assistance. Then figure out how to do squats on the ball. It's perfect for leg/core strength, plus balance. I never quite got to doing squats, but I could balance for a while. Then I stopped going to the gym. But I have a friend who was a personal trainer and could probably have done handstand pushups on the freaking balance balls. He taught me to balance (sorry if my above description sucks) and he could do the squats—even while holding a large amount of weight—all while balancing on the ball.

I've never been able to stand gym exercise, and prefer actually playing sports. Other than a brief period where I trained with a few friends most of my exercising has been limited to a few push/sit/pull ups snuck in before bed. It's surprising how much good comes from doing 5 minutes worth of simple calisthenics daily on top of regularly running around and throwing/kicking/catching spherical objects.

As for speed endurance, I like what my soccer coach called '120s' (in yards, the length of a good soccer field. But distance isn't all that important). After a frisbee game (or anytime you have a good marked distance on a grass field) go to the back of one end zone and sprint to the other. Jog the whole way back, and you get 30-60 seconds of rest. Do it again. Every third time instead of jogging back you can walk back to catch your breath. Focus on technique: a good start, long strides, up on your toes, whatever. The sprinting part is actually really fun, the struggle is always the jogging back and starting over. It's also way better when you're doing it with others, so be sure to suck in however many friends/teammates you can.
posted by kjell at 8:53 PM on June 8, 2009

Your best bet is to work out some kind of circuit training routine. Set up four training stations, two upper body, two lower body. There can also be core/ab and plyometrics exercises interspersed between those exercises. Plyometrics should be used sparingly, maybe two or three training days a week. You would probably want to go through that circuit twice. Minute long stations. You'll come up with about 12 to 30 reps for each station. Crossfit may be a good place to scavenge exercises for a circuit routine.

squats on an exercise ball.

I wouldn't recommend any of my friends do this. I've heard stories of trained athletes blow out their knees when they come off the ball. Particularly forward, not down to your knees and roll back down to the ground.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:08 PM on June 8, 2009

Pilates and squats on an exercise ball are poor choices for increasing your running and jumping performance. The type of conditioning they build is not considered transferable to athletics, eg you will probably never find yourself catching a frisbee on a swiss ball or in a pilates position (unless you do pilates flying through the air).

Running faster
Acceleration and top speed is closely tied to the max strength of the hip extensors, primarily the hamstrings and glutes. Athletes who are fast runners all have excellent posterior chain development. Sled dragging, single leg deadlifts and glute-ham raises are all effective exercises for the posterior chain.

Jumping higher
Jumping more heavily involves the knee extensors, so training the quads becomes more important. Single leg squats and depth jumps are effective and easy to perform in your gym. I would also recommend pullups for the development of upper body power.

Given the time constraints, I would also recommend doing sprints using the tabata protocol. It only takes four minutes, 20 seconds of sprinting at full speed followed by 10 seconds rest then repeated 8 times in succession. It is named after the researcher who studied the 1996 Japanese speed skating team who regularly employed this workout (on skates). Dr. Tabata found this workout was superior for aerobic and anaerobic strength gains compared to longer, lower intensity workouts.

As for program design, I would recommend changing up the workout after it is performed 4-6 times. Limit your workouts to 2-4 exercises that use multiple joints. Alternate periods of higher intensity (high weights, low reps, longer rest between sets) with periods of lower intensity (lower weights, more reps, shorter rest). Identify your weaknesses and train that weakness in the begining of your workouts.

Ultitraining.wordpress.com is geared towards training for ultimate players and Kelly Bagget has written extensively on jump training. Testosterone magazine is a good place to learn about strength training, Poliquin, Cressey, and Ian King all discuss how the structure and training of their athletes.
posted by zentrification at 10:36 PM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]

Lunges, walking lunges, Bulgarian squats, high pull, goblet squats, planks, birddogs. The fucking last thing I would do is squats on top of an exercise ball.
posted by creasy boy at 12:56 AM on June 9, 2009

The plank changed my life. It will help whatever game you play.

Burpees/up-downs will also work wonders for cardio, legs, and core. They can be a bit tough on the knees (and lungs) but you sound young enough.
posted by powpow at 5:36 AM on June 9, 2009

Pilates? Useless.

Squatting on a ball? Useless and dangerous.

You have an ab wheel, this is a great tool. Use it if you are physically able to use it correctly (check google for videos of proper usage).

Goblet squats with your dumbbell.


One-legged deadlifts. You don't have a lot of heavy weight available so unilateral work will make use of what you do have.

Sprints. Hill sprints. Tabata intervals are good.

There are two of you. Partner carries are good. Medicine ball work is good.

Box jumps. Use a park bench or a chair.
posted by Loto at 6:22 AM on June 9, 2009

One thing I noted when I started playing ultimate again after a few years off was that even though I was in much better shape and a much better runner, I would feel beat to death the next day.

It turns out that all the cutting exposed the fact that my new fitness lacked core strength, especially in the obliques. Side planks help, as do medicine ball workouts.

The other thing that surprised me was how there seemed to be all these muscles around my hip bone. Once again, these muscles aren't used as much in straight up running.

I'd encourage you to mix some high intensity drills into your routine that focus on exploding out of a cut. Don't just sandbag it into the cut and come out fast, but focus on running to the point where you're going to cut and try to come out of it with as much if not more speed than you went in.
posted by advicepig at 6:59 AM on June 9, 2009

From my experience, two things:

1 - Ultimate, more than anything, is about running and endurance. There's no substitute for it, you need to get on a running regimen and keep to it. Something like couch to 5k might help, but you might already be further along than the couch stage. Trust me on this, the longer you can run at your top speeds, the better you will be at this game.

1.5 - Consider talking to a serious soccer player about what s/he does. The type of endurance needed is surprisingly similar.

2 - Consider something akin to "disc golf" for improving your throws. Basically, find a pole outside, and try to hit it from different distances using different throws, while your partner is guarding you. (Then switch, naturally.) It helps to have a large stack of discs for this. (20?) Hitting the bottom of your stack of discs makes for a good opportunity to cool off for a moment, and then switch (after collecting the discs, of course).

Hope this helps.
posted by Citrus at 7:27 AM on June 9, 2009

I know the national level men's team at my alma mater have been doing Air Alert for years.

Decent throws will make you just as much as more valuable player as increased speed, stamina, and jumps. If you're a student who has time between classes, have a disc with you at all times (again, this is something that men's team forces their first year's to do when they join). Seriously, throw every chance you get.

(Ok...I handled in college because I couldn't run, so that advice might be a bit skewed)
posted by natabat at 8:34 AM on June 9, 2009

zentrification, creasy boy, and Loto give good advice, assuming you're absolutely limited to the things you list, but I'll state the obvious here -- your strength gains are going to be really limited by your equipment. A barbell and plates is what you need so you can do squats and deadlifts. You just can't get very far with 40 lb. dumbells.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:40 AM on June 9, 2009

Strength isn't what the asker's main priority is or should be. Stronglifts aren't going to cover this one, and if included should only compromise a small portion of your training. This is textbook athletic training and although the training principles will vary from text to text there are overriding themes that can be followed.
I was under the impression of limited workout space, but if that isn't true then you should go crazy with all kinds of sprinting and plyometric training. Core training could supplement this.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:53 AM on June 9, 2009

He said he wants to "run faster" and "jump higher." That's strength. "Textbook athletic training," besides being about sport-specific technique, is also about strength. Sprints are good, but they'll only get you so far. Sprinters lift weights, too.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:51 PM on June 9, 2009

He said he wants to "run faster" and "jump higher." That's strength.

Walking requires strength. Picking up your phone requires strength. Everything requires strength.

"Textbook athletic training," besides being about sport-specific technique, is also about strength.

To an extant, but at this point it should be obvious the way you are using that term is fairly indistinct from the specifics that are needed to properly have a discussion about it. So to talk about it in a general way, I will say again strength training should not be a priority for the asker. There are obvious energy and time limitations to the human body. Training prioritization should be paramount if you want to capitalize on your needs and limitations. There is a balance to working out for all different kinds of goals.
I'll also say, you don't need a barbell and plates to achieve the goals s/he is looking for. With a couple of 40 pound variable weight dumbells I could put you through a workout that would leave you curled up and vomiting on the floor. I could even include squats and deadlifts using those.
Being short on time and equipment, a mix of calisthenics, sprints, plyos, and circuit training would be a perfect for the asker's needs. Which, after reading about it, it looks like Tabata training is geared towards. I wouldn't necessarily recomend that method freely as it has some obvious faults to it, but it looks like a good fit here.
Going down to the gym to jump under a power rack and squeeze out some reps isn't exactly tailored to this person's needs.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:36 PM on June 9, 2009

I disagree, appropriately training for strength should be one of you main goals. There is plenty of literature demonstrating the relationship between maximum strength of the knee and hip extensors and vertical jump and running ability.

For example, olympic lifters produce phenomal power at the hip and knee joints and can run very fast and jump very high as a result. Google scholar searches for "squat vertical jump" and "vertical jump olympic lifters".
posted by zentrification at 11:01 PM on June 9, 2009

Walking requires strength. Picking up your phone requires strength. Everything requires strength.

What? That doesn't make any sense. If someone wants to run faster and jump higher I think it's pretty clear that strength training is in order. Olympic lifts in particular, which I meant to mention, will improve an athlete's ability to generate force quickly, which is what he's trying to do. Sprints and pylometrics and intervals should all be part of his training, too, but not the entirety of it.

With a couple of 40 pound variable weight dumbells I could put you through a workout that would leave you curled up and vomiting on the floor.

You wouldn't even need dumbells to do that. But just because you're curled up and vomiting doesn't mean you've gotten stronger or faster or become a better jumper.

Anyway, dude can do what he wants, this is a stupid argument.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:09 PM on June 9, 2009

For example, olympic lifters produce phenomal power at the hip and knee joints and can run very fast and jump very high as a result.

As opposed to...? And those links don't support what your saying. Besides I've never said that lifting won't get you strong or help create power.

What? That doesn't make any sense.

In the context of which you approach the subject, sure it does. Actually it makes sense point blank, but that's neither here nor there.

If you've read athletic training articles and journals then you are well aware there is more to strength then what you're proposing. Most coaches will define strength under a myriad of variable factors.

I don't want to continue on with this argument since both of you have largely mischaracterized what I've said and I'm sure if the asker is serious about their training will take what has been said and also look up the answer in a place more befitting for balance.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:21 AM on June 10, 2009

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