The holy trinity of badminton fitness

Discussion in 'Techniques / Training' started by Tangfastic, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. Tangfastic

    Tangfastic New Member

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    Hey BC, my first post on here. Wanted to talk about fitness for badminton, something that sometimes gets glossed over but is extremely important. As a badminton player and Olympic weightlifter, I believe I can provide a useful insight.

    Badminton may get stereotyped as an 'easy' sport (in UK. I'm sure this is different in Asia), but we all know how physically demanding the sport is. I think everyone here can relate to this, and I know I've had plenty of gruelling games where each rally just gets tougher and tougher. And by the end you end up physically exhausted. Though these are often my favourite games.

    And although we respect the importance of stamina, the general attitude to badminton conditioning seems to end there. I know several players who will spend time off court developing their stamina, maybe they go running once or twice a week. But I know very few players who have a systematic weight training schedule.

    Take a look at this picture:

    [​IMG]

    While Lin Dan's ripped body may be the thing that stood out, I want to draw your attention to Lee Chong Wei quickly.

    He is squatting 180kg. That's 3 times his bodyweight. If you've ever tried back squats at the gym you'll know how insane that is.

    Clearly the pros are using strength training in a very major way, they know that running isn't an all-in-one solution. Sure stamina is extremely important too. But I guarantee you LCW didn't work his way up to 180kg by running laps a few times a day. No he has clearly spent a lot of time dedicated to building his strength.

    At this point I'd like to make a distinction: Fitness for badminton can split into 3 separate categories. In order to reach your true potential you must develop all of them, not just your stamina.

    I call these the holy trinity. Because there's three of them. Ok that's terrible...I'm here to teach you **** not make you laugh.
    • Stamina
    • Agility
    • Strength
    Let's talk a bit about these three.

    Stamina

    The most commonly discussed aspect of fitness. This is your cardiovascular fitness, defined as your respiratory system's ability to maintain a moderate intensity for a prolonged period of time. For example doing cardio (running, badminton match) is reliant on your body's stamina.

    This is fairly intuitive and easy to understand. I'm sure everyone can appreciate how important stamina is for badminton - without it you'll quickly tire out a few minutes into a game. Since most people already appreciate this, I won't go into too much detail in this post.

    Agility

    Agility is your ability to move quickly and explosively. This is used in short bursts, for example a quick change of direction is an example of agility. Agility is linked to lower body strength, and is the most important physical aspect for developing swift footwork.

    Each time you split step in anticipation for you opponents return or rapidly change the direction you're moving in, you rely on your body's agility.

    If the only training you spend off court is cardio (running/swimming/cycling etc), you won't be improving your agility. Cardio is a slow and steady type of workout, whereas agility is all about split second explosiveness. This relies on your fast-twitch muscles, not something that gets developed through cardio. Instead this is trained though speed drills and weight training. Speed training involves ladder drills and similar exercises. Weight training for agility overlaps a lot with lower body strength, you'd be doing things like power cleans, squats, box jumps etc.

    Strength

    Strength is the amount of force your body is able to produce. Unlike stamina, strength does not take place over a long period of time, is used to overcome resistance quickly.

    For badminton it's worth making the distinction between upper and lower body strength.

    As mentioned, you lower body strength training will see a lot of overlap with agility. Both play a large part in developing good footwork. Strong legs will especially be what enable to to execute powerful leaps to the forehand corner, or recover effortlessly from a lunge. Whereas agility is more responsible for small, quick movements. It's a subtle distinction to make, and I'm not sure if I've managed to articulate it well - let me know if that makes sense.

    Though there are slight distinctions, generally you can hit these two aspects simultaneously within a single well developed weight training workout. Key exercises are squats (front and back), weighted lunges, cleans (power or full).

    Upper body strength is less important in badminton, but still overlooked. It is important that we focus on upper body exercises that directly translate to badminton. The absolute last thing we want is to become bulky and slow, we're badminton players not bodybuilders. For this reason it's best to stick to explosive, compound movements: bench press, dips, military press, pull ups etc.

    Small isolation movements such as bicep curls may be tempting (who doesn't want big biceps!), but generally aren't that useful. Don't feel like you have to avoid them like the plague, but just realise they shouldn't be a priority

    ------

    I hope you found some value in this post. If you're serious about badminton you should take the chance to evaluate your own training. Are you spending enough time off court? And if so are you taking the chance to build all three aspects?

    As a competitive Olympic weightlifter with 10+ years badminton experience I believe I'm in a unique position to help. I hope this is useful, please ask additional questions or clarifications if necessary. I've never been particularly articulate in writing, so let me know if this is all a giant mess.
     
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  2. dave010

    dave010 Regular Member

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    Stamina in badminton has little to nothing to do with aerobic fitness. Lactate threshold and anaerobic energy production matter much more. Coming from a triathlon background, I am probably fitter than many on court but my badminton stamina is not very good.
     
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  3. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    Good stuff.

    I just signed up with a strength and conditioning coach who has worked with many international badminton players. I am a bit older than Lee Chong Wei and will be satisfied with 80 to 100kg squats. :D

    I am currently detailing my progress in this thread

    http://www.badmintoncentral.com/forums/index.php?threads/current-training-regime.170384/page-14

    I train stamina in a different way.
     
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  4. Tangfastic

    Tangfastic New Member

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    Don't get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of high intensity interval training (HIIT). But not only is HIIT going great for your aerobic fitness anyway, it is also not accurate to say that aerobic fitness is irrelevant.

    I'm not trying to say you should be running marathons for badminton, but aerobic fitness in combination with anaerobic production are taxed heavily in a game of badminton. Especially a Bo3 singles game.
     
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  5. MSeeley

    MSeeley Regular Member

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    I really like your post - I think it makes good sense. I am not sure yet whether its exactly right in my head e.g. is there a difference between generating explosive power, compared with being able to jump up quickly out of a deep lunge (categorised by you as strength) or pushing off quickly from base (categorised by you as agility). If I train tuck jumps as part of a HIIT session, am I training Stamina, Strength, or Agility or all 3? The more I think about it, probably all 3. The reason I am asking myself this, is that I feel agility combines power with balance and coordination and automatic reactions - not just power, but a complex mix of things that work together in harmony. I agree that training agility is a specific activity - you gave good example, but not sure whether it encompasses every aspect of power.

    Enough of my musing however - I like you categorisation of training. Very useful - I just have a few things to think through! Also considering how core strength fits in - definitely in the strength category, and is probably separate to lower body or upper body strength as you've referred to it.

    Anyways - enough of that. Thanks for your post!
     
  6. lurker

    lurker Regular Member

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    some more photos of those ripped muscles on LCW


    AY9E0281.jpg AY9E0283.jpg
     
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  7. miqsh

    miqsh New Member

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    Don't forget deadlifts, a strong core/back is essential to reducing overall fatigue. Also it works on your grip strength along the way. The big three lifts is enough to concentrate on: Squats, deadlifts and bench press
     
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  8. Wanderfalke

    Wanderfalke New Member

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    Which exercises do you do in a gym session?
     
  9. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    @Tangfastic @miqsh

    Just thinking it might be a good idea to put a baseline supplementary exercise regime for badminton players. Something quite generic and two levels:

    A) something that would help beginners, social players and mildly competitive. Looking at performance gains, injury prevention and those coming back from injuries. Maybe mix in some bodyweight exercises to start off with.

    B) second group are those who are quite competitive and undergo regular badminton training and receiving coaching


    I myself am a group B type and have dabbled in supplementary exercises going to gym sessions. However, it was difficult to keep up motivation because I didn't know which exercises are more generic and those which can be more specific for badminton. The other issue was I didn't have any idea of how much to load. Of course, I wouldn't need to load as much as a bodybuilder or international player. For instance, LCW is doing 180kg on squats but you know some people will think they can go on and attempt that within a month and then injure themselves.

    I would hesitate to put a generic advanced program for an high performance player because these need to be more individualised.
     
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  10. Obito

    Obito Regular Member

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    What programs are you following? I was in bodybuilding before I started playing badminton. I gained a lot of mass, but right after I play badminton seriously. I lose almost all of it since Im a natural born skinny. Now, I play badminton 3-4 days a week, so I could only lift 2-3 days a week since some week I would feel like im broken down due training overload. Currently, I try to find a way to lift and play badminton on the same day and get back in my shape, but it doesnt work out. Is it possible to work out and play badminton on the same day? It is hard feeling to explain, but after intense chest or back session. I can't barely hit with the right stroke something feel wrong. I've read some article. It states that because it is a different muscle group between lifting and badminton that why if we do it within a day it seems to mix up.
     
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  11. kurty

    kurty Regular Member

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    the holy trinity.
    • Stamina
    • Agility
    • Strength
    i guess i'm lacking agility, most of the players/coach commented that i am too tense..
    i can run and hit.. but also lacking the skills too.. :(
     
  12. Tangfastic

    Tangfastic New Member

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    I think there's enough of a distinction between strength and agility to warrant them being separate qualities. Especially since agility in badminton is all to do with the lower body, whereas strength is composed of upper, lower and core. But you're right, there is a lot of overlap leg strength and agility/power.

    The truth is there are inherently linked. Any lower body leg exercise you do will have crossover in degree of training effect. The tuck jumps you mention are a good example of this. So while I've put them in distinct categories, it may be useful to think of them like like a matrix, where each exercise will train each aspect a certain amount and each movement calls upon each aspect differently.

    [​IMG]

    However it is still worth making the distinction. Technically, doing bicep curls will improve your stamina, since it elevates your heart rate very slightly. But realistically this is such a small amount it's not useful to even think about.
     
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  13. Tangfastic

    Tangfastic New Member

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    Agree with you, this is something I'm working on!
     
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  14. Tangfastic

    Tangfastic New Member

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    I was working off custom Olympic lifting cycles, can't post it here since I wasn't the one who wrote the program. But I can talk about the basics a little.

    I mostly worked off 12 week cycles. The focus was obviously on the snatch and clean & jerk, being trained every session. 1-3 reps, never more than this as the focus is on quality.

    The next priority is squats, heavy front and back squats, 2-3 times a week. Rep range between 1 and 10.

    Next is priority were variations of the main lifts designed to focus a specific area. Pulls, push press etc.

    Next was core training, weighted planks and back extensions mostly.

    Lastly was the bodybuilding stuff, lowest in prior and placed at the end of the workout. Dips, pull ups, bench, military press, curls etc. (Note that some of these aren't traditionally referred to as 'bodybuilding' exercises. But as oly lifters, anything that doesn't have direct carry over to the snatch or CJ gets referred to as bodybuilding)
     
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  15. MSeeley

    MSeeley Regular Member

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    Don't get me wrong - I completely agree with your choice to distinguish between strength and agility. Makes complete sense to me. I guess my question is more whether agility is the only word to use for power, or whether "power" would be a fourth thing to practice, alongside the other three. But regardless, all training paradigms are useful, and I like the concepts you discussed a lot!

    Agree with the matrix idea - that makes sense. But I can also agree that any given exercise should have a primary focus so that you can clearly track progress at the least. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on which exercises you feel are worthwhile in each category - I have never done any free weight training so am always interested in what has worked for other people (although I do use a weight vest with my normal bodyweight exercises).
     
  16. Azmi Yusof

    Azmi Yusof Regular Member

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    Before sharing my experiment, let me give the full context of how I derive my current program.

    I myself was a single badminton player during teenage years. Stop playing for more than 17 years (played other sport here and there) and just recently started back badminton (now purely double) about 8 months ago.

    Been serious about improving it since then that I actually drop my weight lifting routine completely (the big 3 + military press, weighted pull and dips). This is because I find that I'm slower when on court the next day after weight lifting session.

    During self reflection on a 4 weeks force hiatus from badminton, i reflect that my weight lifting session might have contributed to my shot power and smash initially but my smash begin to deteriorated as time went on after stopping weight lifting though I was also much faster and more agile on court as time progresses (played 3times a week).

    So during this 4 weeks, I return to my old weight lifting routine but added something extra. I added an explosive move that mimics the weight lifting move that was executed before that. Eg. Back Squat 80kg x 5rep and after 10secs rest followed by 5-10reps of either high air squats, or reactive jump which count as one rep, other eg are bench 70kg x 5 followed by clap push up 5-10reps etc, sledge push followed by sprint etc. All in hope of improving explosive power by training the CNS to move explosively after heavy weight of a similar move set. These are on Mon, Wed and friday only.

    On none weight days, morning I'll do Paul Stewart forearm exercise and evening I do just 1set of China quick feet footwork drills (from YouTube), and if not tired, followed by 6 way footwork (focusing on the initial take off) and Wall drill. No badminton on court that whole month.

    I just recently restarted for about only a week. I can say that my shot power is definitely improving, my on court explosive movement also improving thus I have much faster take-off on court now even after 1 month hiatus (begin to enjoy rushing from the back court for net kills), I began to jump smash (the last time was when still playing singles) as well now as jumping felt natural.

    But what had still not improved seems to be the smash itself but also did not worsened too. Currently I think it's due to technique as I'm sure it's not for the lack of power. What I seemed to notice now (that did not happen before) was that I lose grip of the racket handle when I go for full power smash, it's like the flex is making me lose the grip. Or maybe it's just because I just change from 3U Voltric LDF to 3U Astrox 88D .

    But for the purpose of this thread, my PLAN was to continue my weight lifting program along side badminton. The plan was Mon-Wed-Fri badminton, Tue and Sat the weight lifting stated above, Thurs and Sunday full rest. Yoga on Tue sometimes for mobility. Also, all weight session will now be only 2 sets and the explosive move 5reps only in hope of reducing the strain to allow Strenght maintenance.

    But not even a week after badminton return, I'm struggling with Saturday weight session as was still tired after Friday badminton session . Tuesday session was good though and had no effect on my Wed badminton session apart from stamina.

    Let's see how it goes this 2nd week.
     
    #16 Azmi Yusof, Jun 30, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2018
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  17. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    You can only go so far with strength training. Although it benefits badminton, for sure badminton technique has to be number one.

    How good were you as a teenager? I doubt you can improve your technique better than when you were a junior.
     
  18. Ensio

    Ensio Regular Member

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    Any advice on my morning training:

    5km run (including che che steps once in a while)

    Leg exercise (box jumping, skip rope)

    Squats and one leg squats

    Should I do the rope skiping last to avoid slowness?

    Once a while I reduce lenght of run to less if i feel fatigue.

    My aim is to keep/stay fast enough.
     
  19. Azmi Yusof

    Azmi Yusof Regular Member

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    That's abit difficult to answer, but I guess high end intermediate to advance I guess. Bear in mind I totally didn't even touch a racket for 17 years.. So any technique or training I had was long diminished. But I was able to jump to straight back to playing (not start at beginner level) so done techniques still remained.

    Yeah.. Starting to realise that technique training is missing from my program as well. So now dedicating time for technique training (though still off court) following Coach Lee (YouTube) advice specifically on smash which should replace the forehand routine.

    The goal is just to improve myself even if I can't reach previous level.
     
    #19 Azmi Yusof, Jul 1, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2018
  20. Tangfastic

    Tangfastic New Member

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    Strength training is of course important for badminton, but I think people really over estimate how much of a role it plays in generating smash power. If you're struggling with your smash, really have a look at your technique, because that's going to be 95% of the equation.
     

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