On Winter Training

Tad Wissel’s column about training over the winter is a good one. As a former college captain, a lot of that stuff rings true (i.e. slackers, doing a run test, keeping a spreadsheet). But I have one bone to pick: his theory on weight lifting.

I wish I knew back in college what I know now: a smart weight lifting program is perhaps the most important thing the majority of ultimate players can do outside of working on in-game skills.

I started lifting seriously after college, and although I wasn’t playing particularly high level ultimate (I was living in Abu Dhabi), I watched my game transform. My cuts were quicker, my jumps were more explosive, I could throw the disc ten yards further. And that was with no changes at all to my game (in fact, my disc skills probably atrophied a bit).

A foundation of squats, deadlifts, presses, and cleans — done with proper form and in a systematic way — is the best winter training you can be doing. While I agree with Tad that “the guy who ran six days a week is more prepared for Ultimate than the guy that lifted six days a week and didn’t run,” it simply doesn’t take six months to get conditioned. But it takes a lot more time to get strong.

Running (particularly, sprint work) should be a part of any ultimate player’s programming, but, in my opinion, it should take a back seat to strength training over the winter. You get a lot of running in during practice in the season, and you can get into very, very good shape in six weeks.

This doesn’t mean you should putz around in the gym doing leg presses, curls, and half-hearted pullups. You need to find a program (Starting Strength is a very good place to start; I also recommend the programming at Crossfit Football), and stick to it. Lucky for college students, you’ll have nothing going on for at least four weeks. You can train, eat, and sleep. It’s a recipe for success in the spring.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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