As much as recreational athletes like to compare themselves with sports stars, the truth is that the comparisons don't run very deep. Very few, if any weekend warriors possess the talents of Carl Lewis, Michael Jordan or Peter Sampras. These athletes are in a class by themselves. But how they've managed to maximize their physical abilities is something we can all learn. Cycle training allows all .athletes, whether amateur or professional, to perform at their best when they need to most.
Unlike pro athletes, most of us use very little of our overall skill, but we can tap into a wealth of hidden reserves through cycle training. In fact, the average player can improve , his game so much that he can be better at 40 than he was at 20. Cycle training is composed of five phases that program an athlete's condition to match the high and low points of his competition schedule
1. The foundation phase is designed to develop an aerobic base and can be achieved through jogging, climbing the Stairmaster or engaging in a specific cardiovascular activity. It takes four to six weeks to build a solid aerobic foundation, which increases stamina.

2. After cardiovascular fitness has been established, the preparation phase of cycle training kicks in. To complement aerobic fitness, the training regimen shifts toward building strength. Weight training Routines give us the power and control necessary to compete at our peak while adding the strength necessary to avoid nagging injuries. Tennis players should start their strength workouts with calisthenics-push-ups, pull-ups and abdominal crunches-to avoid upper body muscle strains. As for weight training, arm curls, military presses and bench presses are recommended for building Shoulder strength. It takes three to four weeks, with a minimum of two workouts per week, to get muscles into shape. But overdoing it can be harmful. Never exercise the same muscle group on consecutive days, because muscle microfibers rip during lifting, and the time between workouts allows the muscle to heal, making it stronger than before. Also, don't lift weights before playing tennis. Weight lifting tires muscles, depleting motor skills.

3. With both cardiovascular fitness and improved strength under our belts from off-season workouts, we can move on to the pre-competition phase, during which we sharpen the skills of our specific sport. Training sessions emphasize drills that prepare us for competition-in tennis, powerful serves take precedence over bicep curls. Such drills can maximize performance because we are now drawing upon greater strength and stamina.

4. During the fourth phase, the in- season maintenance phase, we concentrate on form-hitting groundstrokes and punching . volleys-and do little in terms of heavy training. We reserve most of our energy for the actual competition. Any strength workouts should occur on off days and include lower weights at higher repetitions for strength, as opposed to bulk.Maintaining enough strength and stamina to compete day after day at the top of their game is one of the biggest challenges facing pro athletes in all sports. And for amateur players preparing for an important club tournament, knowing when to reduce training is as important as perfecting groundstrokes.
5. Perhaps the most overlooked phase of cycle training is the active rest stage. Nobody, not even Courier, can perform at peak level for 12 months a year. There has to be a period of time, a minimum of two weeks, to engage in other activities that will maintain the existing fitness base, while providing the body with rest. Athletes who fail to observe this phase will eventually break down because of overtraining. They will suffer soreness, lose body weight, increase their chance of serious injury and discover an overall decline in the quality of their performance.

But by applying an intelligent program of cycle training, tennis players can turn an old maxim to their advantage: They can be in the right place at the right time.


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