By Sarah McGowan
Summertime and the livin’ is easy…maybe for Ella Fitzgerald but not for quidditch players. Off-season workouts often come with stagnated gains or a few less trips to the gym than you wanted. Sometimes you won’t even touch a broom, bludger or quaffle in weeks.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a couple of tips to get you back on track for the summer season:
- Determine what skill set you want to improve. To help focus, pick one aspect of your performance–strength, agility, speed, power etc.–to concentrate on during your workouts. Remember to set an attainable goal; do not hope for a 6-minute mile if you have been clocking 10-minute miles lately. And remember, if you reach your goal before summer ends, you can always make a new one.
- Schedule your workout sessions. Make time in your weekly schedule for your workouts. Just like allotting time to study or commute to work, you need to make time for your workouts. Be sure to carve out enough time to include a warm-up, cool down and post-workout shower. I usually complete my workout right after work, but the time doesn’t matter as long as it is set and stays consistent; you are more likely to actually workout if you schedule your day around the session.
- Schedule enough sessions, but not too many. In order to improve the skill you choose, schedule three to four sessions a week dedicated to your fitness goal. If your goal is not incredibly taxing (i.e. throwing and catching), you could work on that everyday without adverse effects. However, if your goal requires you to work at 75 to 95 percent of your maximum effort in each session, I advise that you should not practice every day. Your body will need at least a day to recover from a maximum workout. Alternate sub-maximum/active recovery days and near maximum effort days if you do want to workout several days in a row.
- Don’t lose other aspects of your fitness. The common saying “use it or lose it” applies heavily to fitness. It takes a lot less time to lose your gains than it does to build them up. Luckily, many skills can be maintained through just two sessions a week. You can even perform a maintenance workout on the same day as your main workout, as long as they do not tax the same system. For example, you can pair an endurance run with light agility exercises to work on stamina while simultaneously maintaining agility. If that sounds like too much, you can also schedule a maintenance session the day after a hard workout. It’s all okay, as long as you’re finding time to maintain all of your hard work.
- Cross train. Doing the same exact workout for a long period of time can be boring, as well as ineffective. Mix up your routine every four to six weeks with cross training. Cross training challenges your muscles differently so you still get a workout in while resting other components. Instead of doing track intervals, hop on a bike for some timed intervals or swim some laps. Both activities offer a great way to cross train for running, because they still work your legs and endurance system while giving your joints a break. For strength-building cross training, you can swap the gym out for a rock climbing facility. Scaling the wall for a half an hour or so is a great way to build up strength, while also challenging your mind and keeping things interesting.
- Embrace sweat. Sweat is cool, literally. Your body does not actually cool off unless the sweat on your skin is evaporating. This is actually the reason you should stick with your sticky clothes, and try not to remove your shirt during a workout. While you might think stipping down will help cool you down, a shirt wet from sweat will actually keep you cooler than none at all because your physiology uses that sweat to evaporate heat off the body.
- Stay hydrated. While sweat is a natural part of any workout, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t balance out its effects on the body. When you lose just 4-5% of your body weight in water, your performance is significantly affected. Nothing sucks more than struggling through a workout because you did not properly hydrate. But drinking a full gallon of water right before your workout will do little for the workout itself. Make sure to drink water throughout the day and be mindful of consuming alcohol or caffeine beverages. These drinks are diuretics–which will make you urinate more frequently– and therefore do not properly rehydrate your body.
- Listen to your body. Your body will tell you what it needs during a workout as well as afterwards. Sweat and some discomfort are normal during a workout, but if you feel any sharp pain, pops or cracks in your joints, dizziness, extreme exhaustion or an onset of blurred vision, stop immediately. If you cannot continue without pain, end your workout for the day and monitor your symptoms for the next few hours and days. Nobody knows your body like you do and it will let you know when you’ve pushed it too far. In addition, if you still feel sore a day or two post-tournament or workout, either rest for a little longer or stick to light activity.
- You might not see improvements immediately. Depending on your goal and skill level, you might not see an improvement for several weeks. Most measurable fitness goals take four to six weeks before you see any results. However, an improvement in technique, or neuromuscular functioning, at a beginner or intermediate level could be observed in the first few sessions. Just be patient and enjoy the process.
- Play quidditch. Whether you’re an MLQ pro or taking a break for the summer, make sure you play some quidditch each week…”use it or lose it” applies to the sport, too. Regular practice will prevent or minimize rust and poor performances when it matters (i.e. an MLQ game or tryouts next fall). Most major quidditch cities will have weekly pickups and there are plenty of fantasy tournaments you can choose to play in over the summer.