Legs: The Secret Sauce
Every time I go to the gym, I am always amazed by these folks with massive upper bodies and tiny little "chicken legs". When I begin to ask why this is, most people tell me that they hate working legs. Recently, I was watching a fitness training program where they were talking to Gil Reyes, the tennis strength trainer for the great Andre Agassi and other tennis greats and he said phrase that has stuck with me "weak legs command, strong legs obey!" His point was simply that if you have legs that are weak, then they tell you what you are going to do, but if you have strong legs, you tell them what they are going to do.
In sports, legs are everything. It's how jump shooters shoot, pitchers throw, running backs run, tennis players hit and so on. Legs are the foundation that the rest of the body is built on. I have had two ACL surgeries and fully understand how important legs are to everyday living. I have always enjoyed working legs, but after the surgeries, I have had to learn how important it is to have strong legs that can endure.
Many sports performance training centers emphasize core and legs as a key component to their training programs. For the last several years, I have been training along side student and professional athletes at Acceleration Sports Performance - Naperville http://www.accelerationpro.com I have learned the importance of strong legs and core to athletic performance. If you want to outlast the competition, you would do well to add a solid regimen of core and leg work to your routine. Now before you go saying, I already do squats and leg press, here's a few areas that your routine should cover:
Speed - Getting faster takes practice. You have to learn the proper way to run and the right exercises that will build the correct muscles and train your body to move the correct way. Just building bigger legs isn't going to get you where you need to go. You need explosiveness, strength etc!
Agility - Just because you have built some big legs don't necessarily mean you know how to move swiftly and easily. Your body has to be taught how to move in multiple directions with speed and ease. Plyometrics are a huge part of learning how to become agile. Not only do you learn how to jump higher, you learn how to move your body in a way that will produce better overall movement.
Power - Having big muscles doesn't mean that you know how to use them correctly to produce the maximum strength output possible. Your body has to be taught how to move as one solid unit, each muscle group depending on the others to get the job done.
The proof is in the pudding. I am in my mid 40's and I am still out there running the courts with guys half my age and can still stay in front of them and show them that us older folks still have game. If I'm in the mood, I'll get up and put down a dunk just to let them know. For me, it is the focus on legs and core. Ask any top level athlete what areas they focus on and most will tell you that core and legs are at the top of the list. So put away the "beach workout" and get yourself on a training program that will help you to become more functional in your sport of choice. In a future post we will talk about what goes into finding the right training program/facility that will help take your game to the next level!
Stay Forever Strong!