sets/reps/timing for sports training

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sets/reps/timing for sports training

Post by strathmeyer » Sun Mar 26, 2006 7:21 pm

So I lift weights to get better at sports, and I find myself at odds with all the bodybuilders and people who do weight lifting competitions. Another problem is that I play Ultimate, which is a sport that even if people have heard of it, don't know anyone who plays it seriously. Physically, Ultimate is much like a large number of sports. We usually play games in a weekend-tournament structure, which I think it would be best to think of it as doing 5 minutes of HIIT about 30-40 times a day, sometimes for two to four days. I need to be able to sprint fast over and over again, have high agility, make use of my arms, and throw my body all around, while jogging between. I actually think the largest benefit of weight training it not being sort after the first day during a tournament.

Even withing the Ultimate community, I've seen a large variance in what people do. This is probably because any amount of lifting is very helpful. Ultimate is a disc sport, and throwing actually takes a lot of arm, chest, and back strength, as well as normal leg strength and agility for running and cutting. I've been able to make pretty much any muscle extremely sore from playing. Now, I have my routine down: I have plenty of gym time, so I try to isolate every muscle in at least one exercise.

My only real question is: how many sets and reps should I be doing, and how much time should I take between sets? I currently do 4 sets of 8-12 reps (more reps for abs) and try to take less than 30 seconds between sets, because this improves endurance. I do the 4th set because I like it; I feel that it helps me better reach that theoretical max, and because I have time for it. (I do a 4 day split (legs/torso/hips/arms) and keep my workouts less that 50 minutes.) I know, however, that you get 90% of your workout on that first set, and am considering only doing 3 sets. (I just took a week off and am starting up again tomorrow.)

Also, I have no access to a squat bar and have maxed out the leg press machine, (I'm not sure how high it goes; I don't have any belief that the numbers on the weights on the machines represent actual weight, but I know that it's not very high,) so I do 4 sets of 40 reps of bodyweight squats with less than 30 seconds of rest in between. I make my but go down as far as I can, and trust me, this kills my quads. On the leg press machine I got up to 4 sets of 22 reps but it just became cardiovascularly exhausing, and I really enjoy weightless squats.

Sorry for the rambling; hopefully you can see what my question is.

I'd be especially interested in what type of training soccer or tennis players do.

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Post by Ryan A » Sun Mar 26, 2006 9:43 pm

Well, when training for sports, it is my opinion you should try not to mimic exactly the type of sport you play in the weight room.

Weight lifting is not really great for endurance and as you say sprinting faster is your main goal (along with being able to do this multiple times) you should be focusing on getting stronger legs and better running mechanics. This would involve heavier weights and lower reps than you are currently using.

If you wish to be able to have better endurance, then you should practice endurance like you would in your sport. I will try to explain,

I am sure you will agree with me that in your sport, or any sport, running fast over and over again, is very different than just running at a nice pace for a long period of time.

The same is true for the weight room, training 3 sets of 12 for a total of 36 reps, is not the same as training 9 sets of 4 for 36 reps.

After you have learned the movements a bit more or if you already have, I would try moving down in reps and increase the number of sets to get adequate volume.

If youare sport is like doign 30-40 time 5 minutes of HIIT, the best thing you can do is to train/practice your sport like that.

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Post by TimD » Sun Mar 26, 2006 9:54 pm

Well, there is no one simple, easy answer. There are many different models, and throw in sports specificity. I can say this though, most models are whole body oriented, the body is one piece (as Dan John says) and is used that way in sports, so train it that way, i.e. no real reason to focus on bodyparts for sports oriented training.
Nolw most programs include several cycles of "off season" training, periodized, which consist of several microcycles, to include an adaptation phase )which sounds similar to what you're doing now), a strength buildup, and a powr buildup phase. The offseason goes for strength, strength endurance, cardiovascular training, and power. When the season approaches, a preseason routine is usually undergone, getting more into sports specificity and addressing what you will need for that sport. Sets/reps, intensities vary with microcycles, sports, etc. Dr. Tudor O. Bompa has a good book out called "Periodization Training for Sports", and I recommend you read it. Also, go to They have separate sections for most sports, a forum, and lots of articles and routines set up for most sports. Bodybuilding is not necessarily sports training.


Post by Ironman » Mon Mar 27, 2006 2:07 am

Absolutely. Bodybulding is it's own sport. A hypertrophy routine won't do much for you. It sounds like a strength routine would be more like it. There could be certain lifts that are better for your sport then others too.