By Kelsey Turner, Partnership Account Coordinator
I have been using Melissa Witmer’s Ultimate Athlete Project training regimen for the last three months, and wanted to chime in with my observations about how the program functions as an offseason training method.
First, a little background information. I’ve been in and out of the weight room for the past ten years, cross-training for tennis and track, as well as a brief stint in a CrossFit-style olympic lifting/kettlebell class. I know my way around weights and machines, and I have a very good understanding of body weight exercise form from my years training as a gymnast.
While I can’t think of a year in which I didn’t spend significant time in the gym, this has been my first experience using someone else’s workout plans exclusively for all of my lifting and training sessions. Although it has been strange have my off season workouts programed by someone over the internet, I have not been disappointed.
Perhaps my favorite part of the UAP program has been that the workouts are short enough that I have time to get them in before work. Most lifting sessions, including a warmup and stretching afterwards, take an hour. The Speed Agility Quickness (SAQ) workouts are even shorter, and are often paired with a quick but effective cardio conditioning workout. These workouts are short, but they are definitely not sweet. I leave the gym feeling accomplished, and just tired enough for me to know I put in the work, without putting me to sleep at my desk.
The workouts are not only time efficient, but each phase includes scheduling suggestions based on how many days a week you can commit to working out. These scheduling suggestions, alongside videos at the beginning of each phase, function to let me know which days are more important in the current phase. Right now in my offseason phase, the focus is on the lifting sessions, and building strong foundational muscles. Knowing this ahead of time has given me the flexibility to know which workouts are ok to drop if I’m too busy, or as I have been doing with the SAQ and conditioning training, which workouts I can move out of order and do on the weekend.
The eccentric contraction and concentric contraction pacing units certainly confused me at first, but their benefit can be easily overlooked. While many of the exercises carry a natural differentiation of movement (slow on the way down, explosive up during a squat), these counts help to clarify which movement of an exercise is the active (or explosive) part, and which aspect is the control. The counts also focus me in on proper form of the exercise, and keep my mind from wandering. The counts force you to pay closer attention to how your body is completing the exercise, and which muscles you are supposed to be activating.
My biggest complaint about UAP is that it is not idiot proof, typos and missing information are abundant in the PDFs. Few of these mistakes that I have encountered caused major problems, but the less knowledge you have about working out, the greater their potential for negative impact. For example, there are times when an exercise has a weight limit, but this is not expressly said in the document, or when an exercise is done on one side and then the other, it is not always clear if the reps refer to total movements, or movements per side. Many of these mistakes or clarity issues have been addressed in the comment section, where Melissa and other users answer questions about the workouts. It’s a relatively small complaint to have, and thankfully one that has not hindered my use of the program.
UAP workouts have a very natural progression, both within the daily workout, and through the program as a whole. Lifting exercises are grouped into twos and threes, each with a fairly clear goal. Explosiveness, balance, or injury prevention are the most recognizable, and so far each lifting session has included at least one of each of these types of exercises. Not only are the groupings often a clear indication of the exercise’s purpose, but it is fairly easy to understand how what I am doing in the weight room will impact my on-field performance.
The injury prevention exercises have been the greatest addition to my workouts, as they are quick and easy, and I know they can be added on to other days, or even done in the office. They are low to no weight, low rep exercises that focus on stabilizing muscles. Being the injury prone person that I am, I’ve added on an extra layer to really increase the benefit of these actions. I’ve been trying out Physiclo spandex, workout gear with built in resistance bands. Any of the small exercises focused on running form (like hip bridges) are instantly harder, without compromising my form. On leg days I always feel like I’m doubling my workout in the same amount of time, just by adding a little more resistance to my movements. The hardest workout I’ve done so far was the one where I combined lunges and my resistance band spandex, the following day was not fun.
The place where Physiclo shows just how effective it can be is during the conditioning workouts, where running doesn’t feel any different, yet I am twice as tired at the end. I even started wearing them to play in my indoor league, which I love, and I think my team hates. On the field I don’t notice a difference in speed or movement, but I find myself subbing out more frequently due to the increased effort it takes to run in the spandex. I’ve encountered a lot of hip flexor irritation and injuries over my athletic career, and I love that by combining UAP and Physiclo I can go into the season confident that this is one area I will be injury free.
At this stage, I can say that I recommend the Ultimate Athlete Program if you are looking for a detailed, ultimate oriented training program, and Physiclo compression apparel if you are looking to add an additional edge to your regime.
Look here for more information about the Ultimate Athlete Project.
For information about Physiclo, check out their website.
Follow Kelsey on Twitter.