The Ultimate Athlete Project

By Jake McKean

Welcome back to the Drag’n Thrust blog!

We had a busy season in case you were wondering. If you were unable to follow our 2014 exploits, we won the World Ultimate Club Championships in Lecco, Italy, and then followed it up with a defense of the National Championship. It was quite a year to say the least. We have so many friends, family, and sponsors to thank. Already five weeks after nationals (and only five short months until tryouts) many of us have already turned our attention to the 2015 season. To be the best and remain at the top of our division there is little time to rest.

November is a great time of the year to start a weight training program. If you are already lifting than you have a leg up on the competition. Regardless of if you are lifting already or not, you have the opportunity to grow your athletic ability in leaps and bounds this off-season. The Ultimate community seems to finally be coming around to the idea that weight training is essential to success in Ultimate. Many athletes are still trying to wrap their mind around the idea that Ultimate is not an endurance sport. The tournament format suggests endurance, but when we actually look at what we are asking of our bodies it becomes clear that explosiveness with quick recoverability is what is needed. Endurance certainly helps, but to be successful we don’t need to jog around the field. We need to sprint, rest, sprint, jump into the air, rest, sprint, change direction, sprint again….and again, over and over again. Being explosive in key Ultimate movements is directly tied to strength.

I am not a doctor, or trainer, so this makes sense but I don’t know exactly what to do. I had a weight training class back in high school, but it wasn’t really tailored to the demands of Ultimate. Fortunately I discovered Ultimate Result’s Ultimate Athlete Project (UAP) this time last year. I was really excited about this program for a number of reasons:

  1. The lifts and workouts were designed with the Ultimate athlete in mind. This was not a basketball or soccer program I had to settle for. The creator and trainer, Melissa Witmer, has built a program that will get the best results for Ultimate players.
  2. Strength training would help improve my durability for the upcoming and demanding club season.
  3. Especially in the winter in Minnesota, weight training has the greatest potential for any alternative to actually playing Ultimate.
  4. I simply could not afford a gym membership and personal training sessions.

With a number of Drag’n Thrust teammates I began the program. The first thing that became clear to me was the flexibility in the program; you can create a workout regimen that works well for you. The program focuses on strength training, but includes cardio and speed/agility/quickness (SAQ) workouts as well. If you cannot follow the 6-workout/week program then you can scale it back and remove cardio or SAQ to make it more manageable for your schedule. Most lifting days would take me and my workout buddy about an hour, so it was really easy to make the time for. We did 4 or 5 workouts a week right after work and on the weekends.

The progression of lifts was really cool to experience as well. I like to see the big picture and sometimes rush ahead, but the program does not work that way, and for good reason. Each month you are provided with a new phase of the program, new lifts, and new rep/set structures. The whole program is designed to make solid fundamental strength and then turn it into an explosive movement.  For example, we worked on our squat form and weight before we graduated to jump squats. The whole program was very intentional and safe.

An added benefit of the progressive phases is never feeling bored; we would do 3 or 4 weeks of a set of lifts. It was awesome to experience the soreness that comes with a new lifting routine every month; it really made the effectiveness apparent. Then on the 3rd week you could look back and see just how much growth you saw in a short window. I would see improvements of 60% increase in the number of pull-ups I could do in just a month, or 35% weight increase on the deadlift.

But my far the most rewarding aspect of this program was how apparent the transfer to the Ultimate field would be. With very few exceptions I could do a lift and picture the exact way it would translate to success on the Ultimate field. The core muscles are targeted several times a phase, with a focus on rotational strength and throwing ability. Many lower body lifts isolate a single leg to improve stability and minimize risk of injury.

The UAP is only open a few times of the year for new members to join, and it is open now! If you miss this window you can register in the new year. I joined this time last year and can give Melissa and Ultimate Results a lot of credit for my personal success on the Ultimate field this season. I was stronger, faster, and much more durable than I have ever been. I am really excited to see how much I can improve in the second year. Now is the perfect time to join and take your Ultimate game to the next level.


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