MEDICALLY REVIEWED

The Vital Role of Fitness Training for Athletes

core and strength fitness training Soh Rui Yong Kerstin Ong

The world of sports is fiercely competitive, with athletes continuously pushing their limits to reach new heights. However, it’s not just raw talent or dedication that distinguishes top performers; it’s the holistic approach to fitness training. 

Fitness training encompasses warming up and cooling down routines, core training, and strength training – pillars that form an athlete’s training regimen. We get the expert advice of two Singapore national team athletes on their training routine

Warming Up

A gentle start to fierce fitness fraining. Before diving into the intensive training segments, an effective warm-up sets the tone.

  • Increase Blood Flow: Gradually accelerating the heart rate ensures that the muscles receive an ample blood supply, prepping them for the session ahead.
  • Flexibility: Warming up helps increase flexibility, which can enhance performance and reduce injury risk.
  • Mental Preparedness: A good warm-up also aids in focusing the mind, setting the athlete’s intent for the day’s training.

SEA Games marathon gold medal winner Soh Rui Yong believes the warm-up “mentally and physically prime you for the run”. He has varying warm-ups depending on the intensity of the session. He will do light dynamic stretching for easy runs. Meanwhile, if it is going to be a hard session, he will do a 20-minute jog, drills and strides for a hard session.

Cooling Down

Calming the storm after the sweat. After an intense workout, the body needs to transition smoothly to rest.

  • Muscle Recovery: Gradually reducing the heart rate helps in removing lactic acid, which can prevent muscle soreness.
  • Prevent Dizziness: Cooling down prevents blood from pooling in the extremities, reducing the risk of dizziness or fainting.
  • Flexibility Boost: Ending a workout with stretches can further improve flexibility, paving the way for better performance next time.

Soh believes cooling down is essential because it “prevents injuries, flushes waste products out of legs and improves flexibility.” He usually cools down with a 20-minute relaxed jog and light stretching.

Singapore hurdler and sprinter Kerstin Ong uses the cooldown to bring the heart rate from a high back to a normal rate. She shared, “It helps your body to return to its resting state gradually and can help to prevent injuries. Also, I like to do that with my training partners because that’s when we start to chit chat”

Core Training

Building a powerful centre. Every movement an athlete makes, whether a sprint, a jump, or a throw, originates from the core.

  • Stability and Balance: A strong core enhances an athlete’s stability, which is crucial for almost every sport.
  • Power Generation: Core strength translates to power. Whether it’s a boxer’s punch or a footballer’s kick, a fortified core makes it more formidable.
  • Injury Prevention: A robust core also aids in injury prevention, as it ensures that the load of physical activities is evenly distributed.

Strength Training

The Foundation of Athletic Excellence While speed, agility, and technique are crucial, raw strength remains a cornerstone for top performance.

  • Enhanced Power: Strength training allows athletes to generate more force, whether pushing, pulling, lifting, or throwing.
  • Bone Density: Aside from muscle growth, strength training also increases bone density, reducing the risk of fractures.
  • Metabolism Boost: It aids in developing lean muscle mass, which can raise metabolism, assisting athletes in maintaining optimal weight.

Strength training with weights is often overlooked for athletes. Ong adds weight training to her routine to increase overall strength, power and explosiveness, which is very important for short distances. These help to generate more power and hence speed.”

Conclusion

For athletes, fitness training isn’t just about enhancing performance and ensuring career longevity. Incorporating warm-ups and cool-downs, focusing on core strength, and dedicating time to strength training are practices that promise not just medals and accolades but also a healthier, more resilient athletic life. Every session, every routine counts, culminating in the moments of glory on the field.

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