Improve aspects of my fitness

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The exercises must be selected and arranged so that all factors of fitness and the over load principle are considered. Unlike weight training, where the weight trainer works at a maximum weight level with the weight that they can successfully handle for a definite number of repetitions, and then have a period of rest, before making their second attempt at the exercise, the principle of circuit training is that the exerciser works at sub maximum level over a period of time with either no rest, or minimal rest between exercises. I will make my circuit safe by doing it in a controlled environment. All the exercises will be performed correctly and all the equipment used will be checked for errors. The theory of progressive overload will be followed by evaluating each session and making changes, if necessary, to the following circuit.

Cardio-vascular endurance is hard to specifically target during a circuit, so it would be better to improve this by running long distances or cycling. I will combine both circuits and fartlek (a Swedish word meaning speed play) that consists of long runs, but of varying speeds. I will alternate these daily with shorter, pitch running sessions, which allow the body to recover after the repetitive stress of longer runs.

To improve the fitness of a part of the body, you need to overload it. That means you need to make it work harder than usual and it adapts to meet the increased demand. I will overload myself by increasing the intensity of the exercise as I feel the exercises becoming easier. I will also vary the exercises performed to prevent the circuit becoming repetitive and thus give myself new goals throughout. This will also help me keep motivated throughout the programme. Another training method that I am going to incorporate into my circuit in small amounts is plyometrics. This is because of my age and because Ade Mafe recommends this.

“Plyometrics are taxing enough for a trained athlete. I would absolutely not recommend them for anyone under sixteen.” This is a form of training that improves the explosive strength in your legs, which is beneficial for both your sprinting and explosive jumping. The movements have to be carried out quickly. The emphasis needs to be speed, so reaction time and power are the key to reaping maximum benefit. Plyometrics is an advanced form of training so for it to be effective 100% effort needs to be put into all movements. Due to the effort required I will need to give myself adequate rest time between exercises to recover. I will aim for a 1: 5 ratio; during the rest period I will need to keep moving, stretching, skipping, or do either an upper body or abdominal exercise. I must give my legs time to recover however or the gains will be minimal. The plyometrics exercises I will use in my circuit are:

Double touch jumps: Standing upright, jump up as high as you can, bending the knees to get the initial power for the jump. While in the air straighten your body with your arms by your sides. As you land, jump up again immediately, bending the knees as little as possible. The transition from landing the first jump to taking the second should be as short as possible. Skipping: Aim to spend as much time in the air as possible, using your arms to gain extra height. Alternate your leg upon landing, thrusting the leading leg upwards towards the chest and slightly forward. Running bounds: Run slowly using a long, loping stride. With each stride try to get as high in the air as possible while still moving forwards.

The warm up is very important as the exercises I will be doing are very demanding. The warm up will increase the blood flow and heart rate, warm up the muscles and warm and loosen joints. This will reduce the risk of any injuries to the muscles or joints. First I will perform gradual pulse raising activity such as a light jog or cycle lasting three to four minutes. This will be followed by mobility work, which will help to increase blood flow to the working muscles. I will make huge circles with my arms while I am jogging to get blood flowing into the muscles in my upper body as well. Increased blood flow to the muscles will literally warm them up, making the fibres slightly more elastic. You get a better stretch from a warm muscle and reduce the risk of injury. Stretching allows joints to move through a greater range of motion, making you a more efficient player. Stretching benefits running, tackling, and every movement you make in a game.

After a gradual warm up I will spend time stretching. I will only use dynamic stretching in the warm up but will use static stretching in the cool down whilst the muscles are still warm so I will get a better stretch and reduce the risk of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. (DOMS) Dynamic stretching involves slow controlled rhythmic movements progressively through the range of movements associated with football. The synovial fluid in the ankle and knee joints lubricates the joints and prevents friction between bones and cartilage. Before exercise it is thick and gooey in consistency whilst during exercise, because of the heat generated in the joints, it thins and becomes less viscous making it more effective. This is the state you have to get it in before you start playing or running fast.

A cool down is also very important. Cooling down has been proved to help reduce the effects of matches or high-intensity training. Lactic acid, a by product from exercise accumulates in the muscles and undertaking light jogging for example will help to remove this quicker. It also reduces the risk of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Doms is often the result of eccentric work and may occur because of structural damage within the muscle membranes. Muscle soreness can be minimised by building up training intensity gradually. Players who have cooled down after a game have been shown to have lower levels of fatigue the following day (Mafe, 1998).

After exercise I will slowly bring my heart rate down before beginning to stretch in order to avoid blood pooling within my muscles which can lead to cramp and dizzy spells. After a game or training session the muscles are warm and provide a good opportunity to stretch. Muscles can be considerably shortened after exercise and can take up to two days to return to their normal length. Without regular stretching (before and after exercise) muscles can be permanently shortened.

I will make sure that I: Stretch slowly and gently Take the stretch to the point where I feel a mild tension in the muscles or muscle group being stretched Hold each stretch for six to ten seconds Stretch each muscle/muscle group twice. There will be a slight loosening and I will get a better stretch the second time. The stretches that I will use during my cool down are: The ‘Glutes stretch. Sit up with your leg out straight, and your right leg crossed over at about the knee joint, placing the floor. Using your right arm, pull the bent left leg slowly across, until you feel the stretch in the right buttock region. Simply reverse both leg and arm to do the other side.

The ‘Hamstring stretch’. Lie on your back, bending one leg keeping that foot on the floor, to prevent you lifting your buttocks during the stretch. Raise your other leg, holding it either side of your knee joint, to gradually pull the leg towards you. You should feel the hamstring muscle stretching at the back of this leg. Concentrate on keeping your buttocks on the floor, and keeping the stretched leg as straight as possible.

The ‘Adductor stretch’. Sitting on the floor with the soles of the feet together, place your hands either around your ankles or lower legs. Keeping your back straight gently open out the knees towards the floor, applying a steady stretch onto your adductor/inner thigh muscles. The elbows can be pressed against the inner knee to increase the stretch. Avoid pulling up on your feet during the stretch.

The ‘Calf stretch’. Standing one foot in front of the other, feet comfortably apart, both feet facing forward, front leg bent (knee over ankle joint), back leg straight, back straight. Press the heel of the back leg into the floor until a stretch is felt in the calf muscle in the back of the lower leg. If no stretch is felt, slide the heel slowly backwards, keeping the foot on the floor. For improved stability and a greater stretch, push against a wall.

Side-lying quadriceps stretch. Lie down on your side, taking all the weight off the muscles, and pull back the top leg to your backside, using your free arm for balance. Change legs and repeat. A major part of my exercise programme will be my recovery time. It is vital that my energy levels are high at the beginning of a match. Over training in the preceding days will cause fatigue on match days. I will make sure that I have at least one day off and two training sessions out of the week will be running exercises. As Jeremy Boone says “First and foremost players and coaches need to realise that performance and training is only as good as a players body ability to recover.”

I have chosen circuit training to improve aspects of my fitness because it is easily accessible, I do not need to travel to a gym. It means I can take part in my circuit at school in our sports, or at home. I am going to design a circuit to contain the following stations, Press-ups: I am using press-ups in my circuit to develop muscular endurance in my arms and pectorals. This will improve my performance because I will be stronger and more likely to hold up the ball and tackle people. Headers on the spot: I am including this station because heading is a major part of football especially for defenders so by working my leg and neck muscles I will improve my ability to head the ball with power and be able to reach higher balls therefore beating my opponents.

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