I have already blogged about that fact that traditional “bodybuilding” exercises like the biceps curl, bench press, and squats have limited value for squash players, if they form the major component of a supplementary strength training program. I have also suggested that squash coaches visit Core Performance as they represent the latest thinking in strength training. Their programs incorporate injury prevention, core and functional exercises, and sport-specific exercises as part of the “train movements not muscles” philosophy.
A sport-specific exercise is defined as an exercise that mimics, or has some (or many) characteristics of a sport’s skill(s). For example a medicine ball side throw has many of the same elements as a squash forehand drive – a ground up kinetic chain action involving the legs, hips, torso and finally the arms and hands.
Here is a short program of twisting exercises that could be considered squash-specific. An ideal time to do these would be in the off- or pre-season when athletes are not speeding a lot of time on the court – or they could be added to your current routine if you have not already incorporated “twisting” types of movements. I have divided this short program into the same sections as a Core Performance Program. The videos examples are from a variety of sources – each of which leads to other examples and variations. Tubing can be substituted and used for the cable exercises – and perhaps a good idea for those coaching juniors as it minimizes risk of injury.
Section 1 – Prehab
Exercise 1: Hip Crossover
Rationale: Dynamic stretching of lower back, hips to prepare for more vigorous twisting exercises.
Sets: 1 Reps: 5 each side Rhythm: Slow
Section 2 – Movement Prep
Exercise 2: Carioca
Rationale: Dynamic stretching of torso, raising body temperature (like jogging), while working on foot agility and dynamic balance
Sets: 1 Reps: 10 yards in each direction Rhythm: start slow and increase speed while maintaining form
Exercise 3: Reverse Walking Lunge & Twist
Rationale: Dynamic stretch of lunging and twisting muscles while working on balance with some strength-endurance
Sets: 1 Reps: 6 each leg Rhythm: slow
Section 3 – Medicine Ball
Exercise 4: Side Throw
Rationale: Works the squash hitting muscles used in a full drive.
Sets: 1 Reps: 8 each side Rhythm: Moderate to explosive based on experience
Exercise 5: Lunge Throws
Rationale: Works twisting muscles used in squash drives from a lunge position and lunge muscular endurance. If you are training alone you can throw against a wall.
Sets: 1 Reps: 8 each leg Rhythm: lunge slow, throw moderate.
Section 4 – Strength
Exercise 6 – Standing Rotational Push-Pull
Rationale: A great squash-specific alternative to bench press and seated row – the squat like position mimics that of a squash drive, and the rotational movement works the squash core and twisting muscles.
Sets: 2 Reps: 10 each arm Rhythm: slow to moderate
Exercise 7: Keiser Standing Cable Twist
Rationale: Works the squash core and twisting muscles used in squash drives.
Sets: 2 Reps: 10 each side Rhythm: slow to moderate
Exercise 8: Rotational Row – 1 Arm Cable Standing (No embedded video – click on the link to view video!)
Rationale: Use of one arm is very squash specific, and explosive action ensures correct use of kinetic chain used in full squash drives.
Sets: 2 Reps: 10 each side Rhythm: Moderate to explosive based on experience.
Application for Squash Coaches:
- Integrate squash-specific twisting exercises into your program.
- Avoid time-wasting uni-joint, body-building exercises.