Exercises for Strength, Power and Conditioning

To truly fulfill our potential as Ultimate players and as athletes, it’s not enough for us to rely solely on the regularly organised club training sessions. We need to be the ones motivate ourselves and push ourselves to work hard outside of training sessions, whether that’s with fitness work on a nearby park, power training by lifting big weights, or strength/mobility training within the comfort of your own bedroom.
While there have been some articles on this topic on the website in the past, I aim for this one to be the most comprehensive resource for club members of all levels looking to step up their training and bring their game to the next level.

The bulk of this article is an extensive list of recommended exercises which will directly help you improve your Ultimate game. Each exercise type has been split into two sections: gym exercises, which will usually require some form of equipment but are also often much more effective at achieving their goal than the home exercises, which have the advantage of not requiring any additional equipment and can therefore be comfortably performed at home (but can of course just as easily be performed in the gym too!).

The core exercises section also includes an easy but highly effective at-home core routine (click here to jump straight to it), which we encourage you to add to your daily routine (eg. before bed every few days) even if you don’t have time for anything else.

An Example Season Plan is also available, giving suggestions for how one might split up her or his training in all phases of a typical season of Ultimate.

Quick Navigation
1.1 Strength Exercises
1.2 Core Exercises // Core Routine
1.3 Power Exercises
1.4 Conditioning, Speed Exercises
2.1 Example Season Plan
3.1 Additional Resources

Disclaimer: I’m not a professional, or even a trained strength & conditioning coach. Take all of this advice and these recommendations with a grain of salt, make your own research and form your own informed opinions. This article is meant as an easy-access reference for not only people which have done a lot of this type of training before, but also those with no experience training outside of regular frisbee sessions. Hopefully everyone can learn at least something from it, and improve their game thanks to it.

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Exercise List

This section contains a whole bunch of exercises which can be performed with or without equipment, the hope is that you can use it as an easy reference when organising/designing your workouts.

I recommend deciding in advance on what type of workout you will be running (eg. “leg power” or “arm strength”, but doesn’t have to be restricted to one muscle group and/or exercise type, see the example season plan section for some ideas) and then picking just a few exercises from the appropriate sections and doing those as effectively as possible.
It’s generally much more efficient to stick to a few different exercises for a single session and run each exercise as intensely as you can, rather than trying to fit 10+ exercises in a single session (the last few exercises won’t really be worth anything as you won’t be able to do them anywhere near your max potential).

Strength Training

Building strength and muscle mass isn’t just a thing for meatheads and bodybuilders, it’s likely the #1 thing you could add to your current training regimen to improve your on-field performance, not to mention the numerous off-field benefits. Don’t be afraid to get started, whether that’s at home or with a gym membership (highly recommended), it’s worth it.

Recommended Gym Strength Exercises

I give a recommended amount of sets/reps for each of these exercises, and if you’re wondering how much weight to use I pretty much always recommend using the highest amount of weight possible such that you are aiming to fail with the final rep of your final set. Always prioritise keeping proper form over excessive weight, and keep the movements slow to help increase muscle activation.

  • Barbell Squats [Tutorial] 5 x 5 reps
    One of the most classic and well known gym exercises, also one of the most effective exercises you can possibly do in the gym. Not only is it great for leg strength, working primarily your glutes, quads and hamstrings, but it also is a great all around exercises building strength and balance in your core, shoulders, and pretty much every other muscle you can think of.
  • Front-Loaded Squats [Tutorial5 x 5 reps
    This variation on the squat is a bit harder to learn as the grip feels very unnatural at first (I still personally haven’t got used to it), and you likely won’t be able to do anywhere near as much weight as your standard Barbell Squat, at least at the beginning. However, it’s much more effective at activating your quads (the normal squat focuses more on your glutes and the rest of your posterior chain), and also does an even better job of working your core and back for balance. Generally comes highly recommended for athletes.
  • Single-Legged Deadlifts [Tutorial] 4 x 6 reps per leg
    A relatively advanced exercise, but a great way to build strength in your hamstrings as well as the rest of your legs and core. Keep the reps as slow as possible, and keep your core tight throughout.
  • Romanian/Stiff-Legged Deadlifts [Tutorial] 4 x 6 reps
    Another slightly advanced variation on a deadlift, this exercise is an absolute hamstring killer. As with the single-legged deadlifts, keep the reps slow and make sure you emphasize proper form – don’t arch your back!
  • Leg Press [Tutorial] 5 x 5 reps
    A very beginner friendly leg exercise, and a great way to build quad/glute strength easily. Try not to lock out your knees when your legs are extended. You’ll be surprised by how much weight you’re able to push when doing this exercise.
  • Reverse Lunges [Tutorial] 5 x 5 reps
    A lot of S&C coaches recommend these for athletes, and for good reason. Especially when it comes to Ultimate, building that strength in your leg muscles in isolation applies directly to a lot of the movements we do (eg. pivoting). A similar exercise you could do instead of this one is the split squat (make sure you know what the difference between the two is!).
  • Bulgarian/RFE Split Squat [Tutorial] 5 x 5 reps
    One of my all-time favourite leg strength exercises, the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat is amazing at isolating your leg muscles and building the exact kind of strength that is required for the movements in Ultimate. It’s easy to use a set of dumbells or kettlebells instead of a barbell for this exercise if the squat rack is being used already.
  • Single-Legged Calf Raises [Tutorial] 3 x 8 reps
    There aren’t many ways to isolate your calves with an exercise, this is the most obvious and often the most effective. Don’t overdo this exercise, despite us all wanting calves like Owen Brookes’ they aren’t actually that essential to things such as jump height, which is much more affected by your quad strength and general explosiveness.
  • Dumbell/Kettlebell Side Lunge [Tutorial] 4 x 6 reps
    Another great exercise to move your legs and work your muscles in a way which they might not be used to, yet is very applicable to movement in Ultimate. Another variation on this exercise is the Cossack Squat.

That was a whole bunch of leg-focused exercises, they are after all likely the most essential muscle group for Ultimate! The following are some more general, upper body (back/chest/arms) exercises. Even if you’re going to the gym with the explicit purpose of focusing on your legs for the day, I recommend breaking up your exercises with an upper body exercise from time to time, give your legs a bit more of a rest in between sets and avoid fatigue/injury.

  • Overhead/Military Press [Tutorial] 3 x 8 reps
    A great exercise to work your shoulder muscles, along with most of your upper body as you try to remain balanced throughout. Keep your core tight, and never do this exercise with the bar behind your head even if someone tells you to as it’s a great way to injure your shoulders.
  • Bench Press [Tutorial] 5 x 5 reps
    Ah, the great gym classic. Become good enough at this exercise and you can start being the person asking others “how much do you bench, bro” at every occasion. As great as this exercise is all around, I personally don’t think it’s very applicable to Ultimate so I don’t make it a big part of my routine.
  • Barbell Curls [Tutorial] 4 x 6 reps
    Who doesn’t want huge biceps, right? Once again, not super applicable to Ultimate, but it’s nice to throw in this exercise from time to time. Make sure you don’t cheat by arching your back, keep your back straight the entire time and your elbows locked in place.
  • Dumbbell Rows [Tutorial] 3 x 8 reps
    Keep your reps slow and steady with this exercise, make sure you maintain proper form as always, and focus on using your back muscles rather than your biceps. A great, albeit more advanced variation is the Bent-Over Barbell Row, an all-around amazing exercise that I highly recommend you move onto once you are able to perform the movement with good form.
  • Pull-ups [Tutorial] 3 sets, each to failure
    Everyone wants to be able to do clean pull-ups aka. “the king of bodyweight exercises”, it just objectively is one of the coolest exercises out there. I love it, and I highly recommend you try it if you haven’t before. If you can’t complete a pull-up, I recommend starting with the usually easier chin-ups. Don’t worry if you can’t do those either, try some eccentric pull-ups (ie. repping the negative/downward phase only, as slow as possible) to build up the strength required.
  • Tricep Cable Extensions [Tutorial4 x 6 reps
    If you feel like murdering your triceps for some reason, do these with enough intensity and you’ll no doubt be feeling the burn. If you find the movement awkward or too tough, Tricep Cable Pushdowns are a great alternative. On the other hand, if you want more of a challenge give Skullcrushers a try.
  • Reverse Dumbell Flyes [Tutorial3 x 8 reps
    A great exercise to target your rear deltoids (shoulder muscles), getting yourself a strong back and neck is key to avoiding injuries.
  • Tricep Dips [Tutorial] 3 sets, each to failure
    Not only does this exercise look and feel badass, but it also does a great job of building your triceps while working the rest of your upper body for stabilisation. Learn the difference between this one and…
  • Chest Dips [Tutorial3 sets, each to failure
    Make sure you go slow and steady for both this exercise and Tricep Dips. Activate those muscles as much as possible, and don’t cheat using your momentum to help you.

Recommended Home Strength Exercises

  • Push-ups [Tutorial] –
    Primarily works your chest and triceps, but don’t underrate the value of this exercise for your shoulders, core, legs, and even hips. There are many, many variations on this exercise which are all recommended for different purposes. Generally, a wider grip will work your chest muscles more, while closer grip (eg. diamond grip) pushups will focus more on your triceps and arms. I also recommend, among others, Single-Legged Pushups to add some extra focus on your core and stabiliser muscles as well as Spiderman Pushups which also work your core while being great for hip mobility.
  • Wall Sits [Tutorial] –
    Very straightforward, just put your back against a wall and pretend you’re sitting in a chair for as long as possible. It won’t take too long before you start properly feeling the burn in these, and your legs will be on fire.
  • Skater Squats [Tutorial] –
    These are tough. I personally have a lot of trouble balancing on my way down, but not only are they a great way to work your leg muscles without any equipment, they are especially good for Ultimate as they help a lot with balancing all throughout the upper body, legs and core. Make these tougher by holding some weights in front of you as you go down.
  • Single-Legged Glute Bridge [Tutorial] –
    Primarily works your thighs, your glutes (obviously), your hip mobility as well as other leg muscles such as your hamstrings.
  • Bodyweight Squats [Tutorial] –
    Very self explanatory. Nowhere near as effective when you don’t have weights, as you’ll likely be able to quite a few of these before you start feeling them (and will therefore work endurance more than strength), but squats are always a great exercise in all their forms.
  • Walking Lunges [Tutorial] –
    If you don’t have enough space in your room to walk around doing these, just do them on the spot, coming back up to a standing position with each repetition.
  • Step-Ups w/ Knee Raise [Tutorial] –
    Do this exercise slowly and controlled to work more on strength by activating your muscles for longer periods of time, or work on exploding up into the knee raise position if you’re more focused on building power.
  • Glute-Ham Raises [Tutorial] –
    These are a very, very effective way to work your hamstrings and glutes within the comfort of your own home. Just use a couch or bed to hold your feet in place, and make sure you’re catching yourself with your hands as you go down so that you don’t accidentally smash your head on the floor!

Core Training

These core exercises do technically fall under the “strength training” umbrella, but the importance of a strong core when playing ultimate is such that they do deserve their own section. Even if you do nothing else outside of training sessions, we highly recommend at least doing some core exercises from time to time. Not only do they have a massive impact on the Ultimate pitch, they will help you work on your posture, on your balance, and you might even eventually get a sick set of abs to show off at Bears Holiday/Burla.

Recommended Gym Core Exercises

There aren’t many core and/or ab-specific exercises which you can’t also do within the comfort of your own home, but here are a few that come to mind.

  • Cable Woodchops [Tutorial] –
    The twisting motion which is worked on in this exercise is very commonly found in Ultimate, and this is one of the best exercises for that purpose. Pull the cable quickly to build some power in that direction, but do the negative part of the exercise as slowly as possible to truly build that oblique, twisting strength.
  • Ab Roller [Tutorial] –
    Another one of those exercises where you want to be going slow and steady to activate those core muscles for the longest period of time possible. This one can be really tough, start from your knees if it’s too tough.
  • Glute Bridge [Tutorial] –
    Why did I choose to include an exercise which clearly focuses on your glute muscles more than your core in the “core exercises” section? I don’t know. Sue me. It’s a good core exercise too though.
  • Hanging Leg Raises [Tutorial] –
    This an amazing exercise for a great many reasons. Try these, and I’m sure you’ll love them too. Breathe out heavily and contract your core as tightly as you can while you pull your legs up for maximal effectiveness.
  • Oblique Twists [Tutorial] –
    Again, the twisting motion is a great movement to work on when it comes to training for Ultimate. You can easily perform this exercise at home, but doing it with a plate makes you feel a lot cooler.

Recommended Home Core Exercises

These are all so simple and easy to do in the comfort of your own bedroom, and as such I highly recommend aiming to do a few before bed on a daily basis. If you stick with it you’ll feel the benefits in no time, both on and off the Ultimate pitch.

  • Plank [Tutorial] –
    The big classic core exercise everyone knows and loves to hate. Get in the plank position, squeeze your glutes and tighten your abs/core as much as possible, and hold the position for as long as you possibly can. Once you become good enough at this it can become a very tedious exercise with diminishing returns, so why not try out some different variations.
  • Side Plank [Tutorial] –
    One of the first plank variations you’ll likely find out about, this is a great way to work your oblique muscles which are responsible for the rotating and tilting of your chest. They’re not only an essential part of your body’s stabilisation and balance mechanisms, but they’re also arguably some of the most important muscles when throwing.
  • Boat Pose [Tutorial] –
    You might remember this as the “V-Sit” from last year’s DTS Core Challenges, this is another isometric core exercise where the goal is to tighten your core and hold the pose for as long as possible. Similar to the plank, once you’re able to hold it for a long enough period of time it might be better to move on to some more difficult variations.
  • Hollow Hold [Tutorial] –
    This is possibly my favourite isometric core exercise, and arguably the toughest one when done properly. Extend your arms and legs as far out as possible, and lower them as much as you can while always making sure your lower back is touching the floor – you’ll feel it very quickly.
  • Bird-Dog Hold [Tutorial] –
    Yet another isometric core exercise (this is the last one on this list I swear), once again just aim to hold the position for as long as possible while squeezing your core muscles as hard as you can.
  • Twisting Crunches [Tutorial] –
    These are a great way to focus on the rotating function of your obliques, while exercises like side planks tend to focus more on the tilting, but make sure you learn the difference between crunches and sit-ups, and never perform twisting sit-ups as they are really bad for you.
  • Sit-ups [Tutorial] –
    Once again, learn the difference between sit-ups and crunches. While a set of sit-ups will be less effective for your abs than a set of crunches, they also work much more than just your abs (including your hip flexors, your back, neck, and even your legs). I’m personally not a big fan of this exercise though, I recommend sticking to crunches and instead using other exercises to work the other muscles involved.
  • Dead Bugs [Tutorial] –
    Go as slowly and controlled as possible and (as always) make sure keep your core tight and squeeze your abs as much as you perform this exercise.

Example Core Routine

The following core routine was inspired by a combination of the previously existing Bears core routine and a few suggestions for improvement/changes from myself and others. All the exercises are super easy to perform in the comfort of your own bedroom (or in a gym if you prefer), and the whole routine won’t take much more than a few minutes out of your day (feel free to cut a few exercises out if you’re pressed for time). So add it to your daily routine, either early in the morning or just before heading to bed, and you’ll feel the difference in no time.

Don’t be afraid to rest for longer than the described durations if you feel that you need it, you should aim for the routine to be difficult but it should never make you feel bad.

If you’re feeling like you particularly want to challenge yourself, some more challenging variations for each of the exercises are described in italics.

  1. Plank
    Start off with a nice and easy plank, aim to hold it for 75 seconds while making sure you squeeze your glutes and your core tightly to make the exercise as effective as possible.
    Perform until failure to get your core fired up right at the start of the routine.
    Take a minute rest.
  2. Wall Sit
    Aim to hold the wall sit position for 60 seconds. Keep your legs parallel to the ground, your back against the wall, your core tight and your leg muscles working.
    Aim for the same duration as your plank, or until failure.
    Take a minute rest.
  3. Push-Ups
    Do 5 slow, controlled pushups with the grip of your choice. Take a 10 second break, and do 5 more. Repeat until you can’t do 5 anymore, then take a minute rest. Don’t feel bad if you can’t do 5 pushups in a row yet, try some easier variations (on your knees, at an incline, etc) as you build your way up.
    Do the same, but in sets of 10 pushups.
    Take a 30 second rest.
  4. Side Plank
    Hold the side plank for 45 seconds on one side, take a 15 second rest and repeat on the other side.
    Do your side planks for 60 seconds, add an extra rotation component, or do some side plank mountain climbers.
    Take a 30 second rest.
  5. Hollow Hold
    Try to hold the hollow body position for 30 seconds, make sure you’re not cheating by lifting your lower back off the floor.
    Exaggerate your breathing while holding the position, in particular breathe out extra hard (contracting your abs as you do so), and hold the position for 60 seconds.
    Take a minute rest.
  6. Single-Legged Glute Bridge (see home strength exercises section)
    Nice and slowly, squeezing your glutes as much as possible on the way up, do 10 of these on each leg.
    Find a dumbell or any random heavy object and hold it at your hip level as you do each rep. Do 15-20 reps on each leg.
    Take a 30 second rest.
  7. Twisting Crunches
    Using something like a bed to lock your feet in place, do 10 of these in each direction.
    Instead of locking your legs in place, keep them elevated above you. Do 15-20 crunches in each direction, breathing out extra hard as you crunch.
    Take a 30 second rest.
  8. Skater Squats (see home strength exercises section)
    Do 5 on each leg, going as slow as possible on the way down.
    Hold a weight in your hands in front of you as you perform each squat. Do 10 on each leg.
    Take a 30 second rest.
  9. Boat Pose
    Hold the position for 30 seconds, keep your breathing slow and controlled.
    Hold the position for 60 seconds.
    Take a minute rest.
  10. Plank
    Until failure. Keep track of how long you last and aim to beat your high score every time.

Power Training

Also known as Plyometrics, or in just “explosiveness training”, these exercises are those which will make the biggest difference in how much force your muscles can exert in a short space of time. This will directly translate to many aspects of your Ultimate game such as jump height, acceleration, agility and top speed. In other words, these are an essential component of your exercise routine if you wish to take your game to the next level.

Recommended Gym Power Exercises

As with the strength exercises, I give a recommended amount of reps/sets for each exercise. Once again, I recommend using as much weight as possible to be able to complete all reps without sacrificing form (though you should be struggling with the final few reps).

  • Deadlifts [Tutorial] 5 x 5 reps
    This is every gym buff’s and every personal trainer’s favourite exercise, and for good reason. It’s an incredible exercise for just about every muscle in your body (particularly works your legs, back, and core). It tends to scare away beginners for no good reason, it’s a very easy and safe exercise when performed correctly. Just make sure to keep your back straight throughout (arching your back is where possible injuries might occur), bend your knees slightly at the bottom of the motion, and drive the lift with your hips rather than your legs or back. To work on power keep the downward motion slow and controlled, but make the lift itself as explosive as possible.
  • Explosive Split Squat [Tutorial] 4 x 6 reps
    Do these with or without weights, if you’re going heavy it might be safer not to actually jump but rather just focus on making the movement as quick as possible when lifting the weight (and as always, keep it slow on the way down).
  • Step Through Lunges [Tutorial] 4 x 6 reps
    Push hard off the ground when you go from one lunge to the other, but once you land keep your descent slow and controlled. I’ve personally only ever performed this exercise with dumbbells/kettlebells as weights, but I recommend trying it with a barbell on your back instead to work on balance and core stability even more.
  • Scissor/Lunge Jumps [Tutorial] 3 x 12 reps
    Push off the ground hard, aiming to go as high as possible with each jump. Once you land, keep the descent slow and controlled. Don’t let your knee touch the ground for the duration of the set. Pair this exercise with some Bulgarian Split Squats to make it extra painful.
  • Kettlebell Swings [Tutorial] 3 x 12 reps
    Similar to the deadlift, focus on using your hips to drive the motion. Don’t arch your back, and put as much power as possible into your drive. Don’t be afraid to go heavy, but make sure you’re not sacrificing form.
  • Box Jumps [Tutorial3 x 8 reps
    Again, focus on driving power through your hips as you jump, and make sure you’re using your entire body to generate force in the jumping motion. It’s easy to jump onto really high boxes by bringing your knees in really close, but that won’t directly translate to higher reach when jumping – pay more attention to how high your hips/waist are being lifted instead.
  • Single Leg Push-off [Tutorial3 x 8 reps
    You can also perform this exercise with some extra weight (ideally a weight vest/weight belt, but standard gym weights such as kettlebells or dumbells work fine too), but it’s good to practice without too.
  • Power Cleans [Tutorial5 x 5 reps
    Probably the most intimidating and complex exercise in this article (at least in my opinion), but also arguably the best gym exercise for pure power. Highly recommended by coaches everywhere (including those which specialise in Ultimate such as Tim Morrill), you should try to learn this exercise and add it to your routine.

Recommended Home Power Exercises

  • Split Squat Jumps [Tutorial] Similar tips to the scissor/lunge jumps (above) apply. The two exercises are pretty interchangeable and can be just as easily performed at home as in the gym.
  • Burpees [Tutorial] Don’t cheat, make sure you perform a full push-up when at the bottom of the motion, and push off the ground as hard as you can, reaching as high as possible.
  • Broad Jumps [Tutorial] You’ll need some space to perform this exercise, perhaps a garden or just a public park, but it’s a great exercise for building power in the legs (both for jumping and sprinting).
  • Box Jumps [Tutorial] See the gym exercises section for tips. This can easily be performed at home, you don’t even need a solid box, just find a sturdy object to jump on and get started.
  • Squat Jumps [Tutorial] You probably don’t want to be doing these in your room if you have a downstairs neighbour, but these are another great jumping exercise which can easily be performed at home. Keep your descent slow and controlled after landing, and feel free to hold some on to some heavy objects as you perform this to make it extra challenging.
  • Jump Rope [Tutorial] A great way to build power while also working on balance, coordination, cardio and all-around general fitness. Once you become proficient at it there are so many different possible variations for you to try, all of which all have their benefits. Also, check this out.
  • Mountain Climbers [Tutorial] This simple exercise can get very tiring, if performed correctly you will feel it for a while in both your legs as well as your core and other muscles.

Here’s an article with some more ideas for fun, explosive exercises to try at home.

Conditioning and Speed Training

Endurance is obviously key for Ultimate – we’ve all had those long, gruelling, never-ending points where every one of your teammates eventually refuses to cut as they have no energy left in them. Train to become the one that your team looks up to, lead by example with energy reserves to outlast anyone on the field.

Of course since every cut in Ultimate is at near-max sprinting speed, training for speed is crucial to becoming a bigger threat on the pitch. The exercises listed here for the most part combine both aspects of endurance and peak speed by for example including lots of short, high intensity sprints with rest periods in between (exactly as you’d experience on an Ultimate pitch).

There are many, many ways to train your this aspect of your game, and the methods listed here are just a few of those which I personally recommend as a starting-off point:

  • Interval Training
    Instead of going for regular old long distance jogs, which do work on your overall endurance and conditioning but don’t actually contribute that much to your endurance on an Ultimate pitch (a sprinter doesn’t have the endurance to compete with a marathoner, but a marathoner also doesn’t have the endurance to perform more than a few repeated sprints at max speed – they’re very different things), I recommend changing your running workouts to incorporate some sprinting intervals.
    The concept is very simple: instead of running for a long time at a constant 50%, try alternating between ~10s long near-max effort sprints and 1-2min of low intensity jogging to recover. This is a great way to simulate the kind of endurance needed for Ultimate while also practicing your sprinting.
  • “Goose” Cones
    Designed by none other than everyone’s favourite Ultimate player Jonathan “Goose” Helton, this drill is highly effective at working your speed, agility and endurance.
    Get yourself at least 5 cones (or any other suitable object), and place them in a line on the ground about 5 yards apart from each other. Pick a direction, and starting at the middle cone sprint to the first cone in that direction. When you reach the cone, immediately change direction and sprint to the next “short” cone. Again, change direction and this time run to the “far” cone where you perform one final change of direction and sprint to the final “far” cone. Once done, take a small rest and repeat from the middle cone again but this time in the opposite direction.
    If that wasn’t very clear, there’s a slight chance this very poor paint diagram will help:

    Alternatively, look up the “5-10-5 drill” and just imagine it with an extra cone on each side.
    Adding more cones to this drill will make it work on your endurance more, but you will also end up heavily sacrificing sprinting form. Instead, just perform this exercise several times (a good goal is to perform it until you physically can’t anymore, and then push yourself to complete one more rep).
  • Shuttle Sprints
    Place two cones several yards apart. Start at one of the cones and sprint at about 70% to the other, where you immediately change direction and return to the first cone and keep repeating. I’d recommend doing about 5 reps (back-and-forths), or as many reps as you can without significantly sacrificing form or speed, then taking a rest before repeating this two or three times. Feel free to sprint at 80, 90, or even 100% to work on your speed more, or alternatively just increase the number of reps (or sets) to focus on endurance.
    This is a great choice for an exercise to perform with a partner, to add the extra aspect of competitiveness and push each other further.
  • The 40-yard Dash
    Likely the most famous drill in the NFL Combine, this is a great way to test and challenge yourself with your short distance sprinting and acceleration. Sprint at top speed for a distance of 40 yards, and time yourself if you dare (an NFL athlete will usually aim to complete this in about 4.5 seconds).
    Of course, a single short distance sprint won’t work on your endurance much at all. Performing several of these in succession can be highly effective however, just make sure you give yourself an adequate rest period in between each. Similar to the Goose Cones, always try to push yourself for one more rep than you think you can handle to keep building your endurance.
  • Other Established Drills
    Look to other sports and their resources! For example, these drills for NFL defensive backs (starts at 1m30s) are very applicable to Ultimate. There isn’t that much Ultimate-specific training material out yet, so use whatever seems relevant from other established sources. This Ultiworld article has some great ideas, including:
  • The SNERTZ Ultimate Workout
    Likely the first conditioning routine ever designed specifically for Ultimate, this workout is brutal. Probably not worth doing alone, but convince your teammates to dedicate an hour or so to doing this with you and you’ll feel it for a long time. I don’t particularly recommend this workout over other conditioning methods, but it could be a fun team building exercise.

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Example Season Plan


The off-season is where you want to build up your muscles, “bulk up” and gain a lot of strength and power which will not only make you jump higher, sprint faster, throw further, but also hopefully help prevent injuries in the coming season.

Ideally, I’d recommend going to the gym around 3-4 times a week, focusing each session on a different muscle group while also getting adequate rest to let your muscles rebuild as well as obviously avoiding coming into the season already fatigued. A typical way to split up your week might be:

Monday: Leg Strength
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Back & Chest Strength
Thursday: Arms & Core Strength
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Leg Strength & Power
Sunday: Rest

It’s a great idea to include some general fitness and endurance exercises in here, a very nice and simple way to do this in the off season could be to just go for some regular runs (perhaps jog from your house to the gym instead of taking the car or walking?). Medium intensity runs the day after an intense workout are also a great way to boost recovery by getting your blood flowing to your sore muscles.

Early Season

I consider the early season to be when trainings restart, but tournaments are still far on the horizon. At uni this would probably correspond to term 1 (despite the indoor season having already started in addition to a few BUCS games, but unfortunately when you’re at uni you’re pretty much in season for the entire year so deal with it), while at club this would likely be anywhere in September-March, when you have at most one or two trainings a week.

During the early season I recommend the focus to still be primarily on strength training, but you also want to start implementing more work on your power and explosiveness which will directly translate to on-pitch ability. A typical week could look as such:

Monday: Strength Exercises
Tuesday: Core Exercises and/or Conditioning
Wednesday: Training
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Power/Explosiveness Exercises
Saturday: Training
Sunday: Rest

Obviously this is assuming just two trainings a week, if you have more (most of us do at uni) you’d probably cut one gym session to avoid fatiguing your body too early.

Tournament Season

Tournaments are about to start/have already begun, and regionals are on the horizon. Trainings are becoming more intense, but they’re not enough – you also need to start working on your fitness and endurance much more seriously outside of the sessions. Gym sessions become much more focused on power training, and you ideally are doing core exercises regularly, but don’t forget to rest to avoid injury!

Here’s an example week:

Monday: Strength & Power Exercises
Tuesday: Conditioning/Fitness/Speed
Wednesday: Training (possibly followed by some sprint training or other conditioning?)
Thursday:  Rest
Friday: Power Exercises
Saturday: Training
Sunday: Rest


Nationals is approaching fast, now it’s time to reach your peak physical shape. You don’t want to be leaving anything behind, nationals has to be the highlight of your year – you can rest for a month or two in the off-season. Now it’s all about doing some endurance training, loads and loads of conditioning to reach that peak physical form you need. Throw some gym sessions in there, and make sure you recover appropriately from every session (eat a lot, sleep a lot, stretch a lot, etc).

Monday: Gym
Tuesday: Fitness
Wednesday: Training (+ extra fitness)
Thursday: Rest/Recovery (go for a nice tempo jog to get your blood flowing and help recovery?)
Friday: Fitness + Gym
Saturday: Training (+ extra fitness)
Sunday: Rest/Recovery

* * *

Additional Resources

Previous Website Articles:

5 Tips for Early Season Dominance
Old Core Routine
Strength & Power Exercises (pw: WorkHardDreamBig)
Core & Mobility 1 & 2 (pw: WorkHardDreamBig)

YouTube Channels:

Morrill Performance
The Ultimate Athlete Project

Thanks for reading, I hope this was useful! Hopefully you take some of the advice given here into account, and if you have any ideas/suggestions for improvement don’t hesitate to let me know!

Willem Garnier


  1. Nice article,
    Is there any cheap training equipment you would recommend buying, for people who don’t ususally use a gym?
    eg. Resistance bands, ankle weights, yoga ball etc.

    • Resistance bands are an amazing piece of equipment. Not only can you use them to emulate lifting weights if you don’t have any, but most notably they can be used as a great way to do some stability work (eg. https://youtu.be/wE7l337kGhA), particularly great to avoid knee injuries which are super common in Ultimate. I would definitely recommend them.

      Never really used Ankle Weights or Yoga Balls personally, but most equipment can be really effective if used properly. Do your research, find the exercises you want to do, understand how to do them correctly, and that will always be at least better than nothing.

      It’s also pretty easy to get some cheap, small dumbbells from Amazon which you can easily keep in your bedroom and yet can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your workouts.

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