Advanced players know how to get in shape for Ultimate Frisbee. They understand that training for this fun sport requires a fundamental knowledge of training principles as they relate to the specific demands of Ultimate. Some even hire professional trainers to get them into "Ultimate Shape," or their teams employ the help of a professional strength and conditioning coach familiar with the rigors of the game.
That's fine and dandy, but what about the average player who simply wants to get in shape for Ultimate Frisbee, be it for recreational or competitive purposes?
Don't worry, you don't have to spend a fortune on expensive trainers, coaches or even high-priced guide books to get your body conditioned for Ultimate. In fact, you don't have to spend anything if you don't want to.
Let me first start by saying that there's a great guidebook that covers everything about playing competitive Ultimate Frisbee, with a huge section on training and workouts. At under $15 (new) or under $8 (used), it's probably the best investment you'll ever make in your Ultimate career, as it includes pretty much everything you'll ever need to know; from offensive and defensive strategies to drills, training and even motivation. It's written for coaches, but players will LOVE it, too.
"Essential Ultimate" is available on Amazon in print or digital form. It was written by two of the biggest names in the coaching circle: Michael Baccarini and Tiina Booth. Many readers are calling it the "Bible" of Ultimate Frisbee. In fact, the book has an overwhelmingly positive user review; and almost every reviewer rated it at the highest-possible "5 Stars."
It's written for all playing levels, from absolute beginners to highly competitive professionals, so you're virtually guaranteed to find something suitable for your skill level.
That said, let's explore the reason you're here in the first place...
How To Get In Shape For Ultimate Frisbee
First and foremost, Ultimate is a game of both endurance and start-and-stop bursts, much like soccer or basketball. That means you must train your body in a way that addresses both of these fundamentals.
Second, Ultimate requires functional strength throughout your entire body, but primarily in your legs, core, shoulders and arms. So we need to make these muscles strong in order to dominate the playing field.
I'm a huge fan of mixing up my Ultimate Frisbee workouts, meaning I'll never really do the same exact routine twice. More importantly, I never "focus" on any one aspect two days in a row. For instance, if I've spent most of Monday working on my endurance running, I won't run for miles on Tuesday; instead I'll work on agility, strength or even full-speed sprints instead.
I'd highly recommend that you follow a similar structure, as doing so will give the specific muscle fibers a chance to rest and recover (thus grow and work better in the future).
Okay, that said, here are my awesome workout suggestions...
Training For Ultimate Frisbee
I like mixing up my cardio work between high intensity, full-throttle sprints and long-distance, low intensity running. But if I could only pick one, I'd pick this one in a heartbeat, as you will notice an increase in long-term endurance even though you're training at short bursts, whereas you probably won't notice any sprinting advantages when exclusively focusing on long-distance running.
Okay, enough with the physiology lesson, let's get to the workouts. I like to mix and match, so these are just some of the random workouts I've created. Use your imagination and feel free to create you own as well!
High Intensity Workout #1
- Sprint 10 yards, rest for 10 seconds;
- Sprint 20 yards, rest for 20 seconds;
- Sprint 30 yards, rest for 30 seconds;
- Sprint 40 yards, rest for 40 seconds;
- Sprint 30 yards, rest for 30 seconds;
- Sprint 20 yards, rest for 20 seconds;
- Sprint 10 yards
You can repeat this "ladder" as many times as you want. Just make sure that you keep a stopwatch handy, as the rest period is very important. Even though 40 seconds seems like a long time to rest, remember that you are all-out sprinting each of these runs, and you'll find that 40 seconds goes by very fast!
High Intensity Workout #2
This one is great when you're on a track or jogging trail. Instead of stopping between sprints (like workout #1), you'll be slowing to a slow jog, which is known as an "Active rest."
- Sprint for 10 seconds;
- Jog for 30 to 60 seconds
Repeat this as many times as you like. And remember that you're not running distances on this one, so don't worry about how far you've gone. The focus should be on keeping your intensity at 100 percent during the "sprint" sections.
The awesome thing about playing Ultimate Frisbee is that you never stop moving. Even when you're not all-out sprinting, you won't be resting on the sideline. That's why it's important to incorporate some long-distance "stamina" training into your workout schedule. Personally, I simply jog. I'm not going to write out a specific workout, because I don't use one. I'll either jog for time or distance, but I don't fixate on becoming a better "distance runner."
For instance, sometimes I'll run the jogging trail near my house. I don't even care how fast I run, as long as I run the entire way without stopping.
Other times I'll hit the local high school track and set my stopwatch or timer for, say, 30 minutes and just start going. I don't count laps.
I suppose the uber professionals would say I should be constantly be measuring my performance, and striving to "beat" my numbers next time. So be my guest if you want to. I simply don't care, since I'm training for the overall goal of becoming a better Ultimate player, not a world class runner. And I've played against some great runners who, quite frankly, aren't very good on the Ultimate field simply because they focus so much on distance running. Whereas I like to split my time amongst all aspects of the sport...
There's a huge fitness myth that says resistance training (i.e. "weight training" or even "body weight training") will make you big, bulky and slow. And that's true... IF you train like a body builder.
Let me ask you this: Do NFL linebackers perform strength training exercises? Absolutely. Does that make them slow and cumbersome? Ask any quarterback, they'll say "No!"
The reality is that stronger muscles will make you perform better. It's as simple as that. And provided you don't focus all your effort on getting stronger, you won't end up looking like Arnold.
Building stronger muscles is a huge topic in and of itself, so I won't go into details here. But I will give you some of the workouts I perform myself. Again, feel free to experiment!
Ultimate Frisbee Workout #1: Full Body Weight Workout
- Bench Press
- Overhead Press
- Lat Pull Downs
- Tricep Presses
- Calf Raises
- Bicep Curls
I like to perform fewer repetitions for the compound movements than I do for the smaller muscle groups. For instance, I'll choose a weight that allows me to get about 8 reps in for the first six exercises, and 12 for the last three.
For this particular workout, I perform three sets of each exercise before moving on to the next one. But in my other workouts I'll often use "supersets," where I'll do one set of an exercise followed by one set of another, then repeat that pairing two or three times.
Ultimate Frisbee Workout #2: Body Weight Workout
Who says you need weights to get strong and powerful muscles? Not me! The following is just one of the combinations of exercises I'll do. Feel free to use this exact routine, or expand on it yourself.
- 10 Push Ups (feet elevated)
- 3 Chin Ups
- 10 Jump Squats
- 15 Stomach Crunches
- 10 Walking Lunges (on each leg)
- 5 Dips
I would treat this workout as a circuit, meaning I would complete the entire list of exercises then repeat it at least one or two more times. You'll find yourself getting pretty winded, and that's okay; remember we're training the whole body!
Agility Workouts For Ultimate Frisbee
Have you noticed that the fastest, strongest people on the field often aren't the best overall players? That's because they're forgetting one of the biggest types of training: Agility.
Here are a few exercises to prepare your body for the agile motions called for in a great game of Ultimate Frisbee:
- Lateral running
- Back pedal running
- Up-Downs (or "Burpees")
The point is to focus your body on performing "real world" motions that mimic the sudden twists, turns and pivots of Ultimate Frisbee.
Now that you know how to get in shape for Ultimate Frisbee, get out there and start training!