TIMING IS EVERYTHING
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
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.