WALLINGFORD — Student-athletes of all levels are beginning to prepare for their fall season with the start of school just weeks away.
Here are five things they should know about training, stretching and preventing injury from John Palmieri, a personal trainer at the Wallingford YMCA.Health benefits
The benefits associated with working out outside of practice are staying in shape, building muscle and becoming a better athlete, Palmieri said.
He said it’s beneficial to stay active and healthy all year long.
Diet plays an important role in overall health. A healthy diet at home and at school is needed to see results from working out.
Palmieri suggests student-athletes bring their lunches rather than purchase from a cafeteria for more optimal choices. Getting started
According to Palmieri, student-athletes should be working out three times a week, depending on practices, schedules and games. He said working out seven days a week does more harm than good for young athletes since they need time to recover.
Cardio can be anything from the treadmill to the elliptical, depending on capability, along with cycling or group classes.
Weight lifting needs to be performed consistently, especially if the goal is to strengthen a specific muscle. Palmieri said in order to see results, workouts need to be performed weekly.
If a student has a tough practice, Palmieri said he recommends taking a day off from the gym.Preventing injury
Palmieri said student-athletes can suffer back injuries or hamstring pulls if they do not properly stretch and warm up.
He said high school student-athletes do not properly warm up beforehand. This can cause injuries during workouts and then impact practices and games.
A foam roller can be used to help stretch. Gyms like the YMCA also provide guests with stretching machines that can help further loosen muscles.
Stretching and warm-ups should be done not only before working out but also before and after practices and games.Warm-ups and stretches
Palmieri said a lot of proper stretching and warm-up techniques involve the back and trunk areas.
Some common back stretches include press-ups, which resemble a pushup without lifting the lower body, and trunk rotations which stretch both the trunk and back areas.
Hopping on a bike or treadmill for five to 10 minutes can also help loosen the muscles. Core exercises
The body’s core is important to all sports, Palmieri said. The core provides balance and stability, and one exercise which can strengthen the core is plank.
There are two ways to do a plank. Athletes can perform a high plank with their hands planted on the ground, or a low plank using the forearms to hold the body up.
A medicine ball can be used for crunches, sit-ups and twists. The same can be done on an incline bench without a medicine ball.
Machines can also be used to work the core. Palmieri suggests a mix of both machines and floor exercises for an optimal workout.