Fitness programme

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Introduction: I am a 15 year old female. I weigh 116lbs and lead a moderately active lifestyle. I play squash, do gymnastics, dance and visit the gym once a week. I also walk a mile and a half home from school every school day. Preparatory work: Before my training programme began, I had a trial session, exploring circuit exercises and deciding which sport I should base my training programme around. I would either choose Gymnastics or long/ middle distance running. After this session I decided I would choose gymnastics, as there is more to train and it leaves scope for improvement in many areas.

Aims: The purpose of my training programme is to improve my gymnastics overall through doing a circuit and other basic training, and training focusing on the components of fitness appropriate to gymnastics. By the end of my 6 week training programme I aim to have improved in flexibility, leg strength, endurance, co-ordination and abdominal strength. I have tested these before commencing with my training, and will test at the half way (three week) mark and also post-training, at the end of the 6 weeks. I will also take my heart rate before, during and after exercise, for use in comparative tables and lastly, as a measure of how quickly my heart is recovering after exercise, I will record how long it takes for me to get back to my resting heart rate after exercise.

Testing components: I test my flexibility by doing the sit and reach test. This test involves sitting on the floor with legs out straight ahead. Feet (shoes off) are placed flat against the box. Both knees are held flat against the floor by the tester. The athlete leans forward slowly as far as possible and holds the greatest stretch for two seconds. Make sure there is no jerky movements and that the fingertips remain level and the legs flat. The score is recorded as the distance before (negative) or beyond (positive) the toes. Repeat twice and record the best score.

I test my endurance by doing the cooper run test. The test comprises of seeing how far an athlete can run/walk in twelve minutes. This should be recorded by the total distance covered to the nearest 100 metres. I test my leg strength using both the standing and vertical jump tests. Using two tests gives more accuracy. For the vertical jump test, the athlete stands side on to a wall and reaches up with the hand closest to the wall.

Keeping the feet flat on the ground, the point of the fingertips is marked or recorded. The athlete then stands away from the wall, and jumps vertically as high as possible using both arms and legs to assist in projecting the body upwards. Attempt to touch the wall at the highest point of the jump. The difference in distance between the reach height and the jump height is the score. The best of three attempts is recorded. For the standing jump test the athlete stands at a line marked on the ground with feet slightly apart. A two foot take-off and landing is used, with swinging of the arms and bending of the knees to provide forward drive. Measure the longest distance jumped, the best of three tries. The jump must be repeated if the athletes falls back or uses a step at take-off.

I test abdominal strength by counting the amount of sit-ups I can do in thirty seconds. As said above, I will test three times over the six week period. I have tested before I started my training programme, I will also test and the half way (three week) mark and also at the end of the six weeks. Then I will compare the results. I am hoping to be able to reach further in the sit and reach test, run further in the cooper run, make more bounces in the coordination test, jump further/higher prospectively in the jump tests and do more sit-ups in the abdominals test.

Why train specific components? We train specific components, instead of the whole body at one time. This is because then we know how much work we are doing on an individual muscle group and can balance out the training, so no part of the body gets neglected, or even over exercised as this could cause injury. By training around the components of fitness appropriate to the sports we participate in, we can improve the vital areas of our fitness needed in our sport and not waste time doing exercises which wouldn’t help your skill or fitness for that sport. Some exercises which may help in one sport may do the reverse in another. It helps specify our exercise schedules to our sports, making us more effective in the required skill areas.

I will train endurance because gymnastics requires both cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Without cardiovascular endurance my performance would not be effective as I would suffer from complaints such as shortness of breath because my body would not be used to working for a long time, i.e. during a floor routine. Floor routines last up to 10 minutes. Some work will be aerobic endurance and some will be anaerobic. I would be less likely to get tired quickly if I trained to improve cardiovascular endurance, therefore this would improve my performance.

I need to train muscular endurance as without it I would not be able to withstand the constant contractions of my muscles. This would lead to injury and would make my performance ineffective. By training muscular endurance I will hopefully be able to withstand the contractions of my muscles and endure a long performance. I shall train flexibility as you are less susceptible to injury of joints and muscles. Flexibility is the range of movement around a joint. This is improved by regular stretching, therefore slowly improving the elasticity of the muscle. Gymnastics without a level of flexibility is dangerous as joints and muscles are very likely to be damaged as without stretching, they have limited movement. Gymnastics is based around being flexible. For example, gymnasts must be very flexible to do the splits. The more flexible a gymnast is, the wider range of movements they can do.

My programme will train my abdominal strength because it helps with body strength. Tensing the abdominals whilst in a handstand for example, keeps your body and legs straight. I need to train my leg strength as all gymnastics requires use of the leg muscles. The muscles must be very powerful so to launch the gymnast’s body into various gymnastic moves, i.e. standing somersault. Jumps are very important in gymnastics, and for this leg strength is required. You jump higher with more leg strength.

Potential risks: There are quite a few potential risks whilst training. Because we are training in large groups, circuit stations may get crowded. We should avoid too much over crowding by moving to the next less crowded station and then coming back when it’s not too busy. I must make sure I have enough room around me whilst training to avoid collision with others. Hair must be tied back, this means your hair is not in your eyes so that your vision is impaired and also so that you don’t get your hair caught in any equipment. I must not wear jewellery, as this could get caught; leading to serious injury or in the case of a necklace, strangulation is possible. Shoes must be tied up as you, or others could trip over the laces, causing injury. Any injuries or places of common injury on yourself, i.e. you have sprained your knee before, should be strapped up to help prevent further injury.

Warm up: If done correctly, a pre-exercise warm-up can have many beneficial effects on a person’s workout and, consequently, their overall health. It prevents muscle and ligament damaged, by warming up your body and getting it used to exercise again. Muscles are stretchier when warm therefore less damage will take place. Also, when you begin to exercise, your cardio respiratory and neuromuscular systems are stimulated, as is your metabolic energy pathways.

Muscles contract and, to meet their increasing demands for oxygen, your heart rate, blood flow, cardiac output and breathing rate increase. Blood moves faster through your arteries and veins, and is gradually sent to working muscles. Your blood temperature rises and oxygen is released more quickly, raising the temperature of the muscles. This allows the muscles to use glucose and fatty acids to burn calories and create energy for the exercise. All of these processes prepare the body for higher-intensity action.

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