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Squash will make you a humble man. Its unique fitness formula requires you to speed across a limited space repeatedly while chasing a small rubber ball that’s quicker than you thought possible.
“It involves a complete set of fitness skills including: speed off the mark, endurance, strength and stability,” says Stephen Coppinger, winner of this year’s South African Squash Champs and ranked thirty-fifth internationally. “The intensity of the game means it’s a great workout and it can all be over in about 45 minutes,” explains Coppinger. “It’s easy to organise as there are squash courts almost everywhere and you only need one other person to play.” If you want to do well, you need to improve your technical, tactical and motor co-ordination abilities as well as focusing on your speed, endurance and the ability to change direction while on the run. Andrew McKune, resident MH fitness expert and associate professor of biokinetics at the University of KwaZulu Natal, recommends including more explosive speed and balance work into your programme. Doing this provides an opportunity to recruit and train additional muscle fibres. If you want to dominate the “T” (while beating the crap out of the punk in accounting), add McKune’s exercises to your workout plan.
Exercise 1: Single leg back bridge
Benefits: Builds a powerful core.
Lie with your upper back on a stability ball with one leg firmly in contact with the ground. Make sure that you contract your core and abdominal muscles to keep your back parallel to the floor. Keep the foot on the floor pointed straight ahead. Raise your other leg off the ground and hold this position for 30 to 40 seconds. Repeat with the other leg. Perform three sets on both legs.
Exercise 2: Single leg balance on a bosu ball
Benefits: Strengthens all your leg muscles and stabilisers, and builds balance and proprioception.
Balance on alternate legs on a Bosu ball. Hold the position for 30 to 45 seconds before changing legs. Repeat for three to four sets on each leg. Aim towards building to 60 seconds on each leg for all the reps. If you want a more advanced version, hold a medicine ball with straight arms, then rotate your torso from side to side.
Exercise 3: Explosive Box step-ups
Benefits: Strengthens your core, lats and back. Place one foot on a box. Step up onto that foot while driving the other leg up. Maintain the same arm action that you would in the running motion. Do three to four sets of six to eight repetitions on each leg.