How to Get in Shape Fast for Your Ultimate Season

author - melissa witmer strength and conditioning

Photo by John King for UltiPhotos

Want the workouts, plus the theory and motivation delivered to your inbox?
Sign up here for our free Six Week Speed, Agility, Quickness, and Conditioning workouts.

Tryouts and tournaments are just a few weeks away. Are you ready? Or have you fallen behind in your fitness? Maybe this has happened before. Have you ever made a big conditioning plan, started up on a few hard workouts only to give up (or get injured!) a few weeks later?

In The Ultimate Athlete Project, we do everything we can to help our athletes learn to prioritize the long term over the short term. But we also try to be practical. So here you are, a few weeks before tryouts. What can you do in the short amount of time you have left to be in the best possible shape for tryouts and the beginning of your season?

I'm going to show you how to get in shape as quickly as you can without going overboard. And I'm going to explain to you why this method works.

Know your Adaptation Window

Ultimate players are addicted to the feeling of hard workouts. But is doing really hard workouts a few times a week the fastest way to get in shape? Science says "No!"

Let's take a quick look at how adaptation in the cardiovascular system works.

Each athletic quality has its own window for recovery and adaptation. These windows are summed up as the supercompensation curve. The supercompensation curve is a theory that maps what happens after a training stimulus is applied.


For example, if you go for a three mile run, and then try to do another just two hours later, your performance the second time would not be as good. This is too early in the supercompensation curve because you have not yet recovered. However, if you apply that stimulus the next day, your cardiovascular performance would be slightly better (depending on your fitness level).

It’s worth noting that there are other factors involved in recovery. For example, if your legs are the limiting factor, this will affect your performance—even though your cardiovascular system is ready for the next workout, it could be that your legs are not.

Applying your training stimulus within the time frame of supercompensation will give you the most efficient adaptation. The supercompensation curve for cardiovascular adaptation is the shortest compensation curve. This is one reason that long distance runners do so well with two a day training sessions.

Watch a five minute video with a more in-depth explanation of various supercompensation windows here.

If you keep your training volume light, you could theoretically train twice per day if you wanted, though it’s usually more practical for ultimate players to train once a day.

The key is allowing yourself to recover between workouts. Otherwise you will be in the early (negative) part of the curve. At best, this would be inefficient. At worst, this can lead to overuse and injury.

If you change only one thing about conditioning, prioritize frequency over intensity when planning your week of workouts.

Rewire your mentality

So why don’t more players train this way? In order to allow enough time for recovery between sessions, the workouts need to be lighter than what most athletes would expect. A shift in mentality is required. Your goal is to get the most adaptation per workout, not the most output per workout.

This shift in thinking needs to take place for almost every UAP athlete. But it is most apparent when it comes to conditioning. There is a time and a place for hard workouts, but that time is not right after you’ve been training only inconsistently. While what I’m explaining here may make sense on a logical level, many don’t understand it until they trust and try it.

Three Quick Tips to Design Your Own Workout Plan

 If you want a full set of short workouts to do every day, sign up here for our free Six Week SAQ and Conditioning Plan.

Start Easy

Start with easier workouts than you think you need. This is imperative if you're coming off a period of training inconsistently. Remember, we want full recovery between each session and we're going to be training frequently. Harder does not equal better. Efficient equals better.

Vary the Movements

Though you'll be doing a workout every day, you should NOT do the same thing every day. Using different movement patterns will vary the stressors on your body. In both our Six Week SAQ and Conditioning Plan and the UAP, we alternate between linear sessions and multidirectional days which are more applicable to on-field performance. Varying your movement patterns decreases your risk of overuse injury and, as a bonus, decreases your risk of boredom!

Here's an example of a lateral movement workout we use in The Ultimate Athlete Project

Try Interval Training

We find interval training works best because it mimics the type of work and rest intervals that happen on the field. It is also possible to get a higher work output without creating an acidic environment in the muscles, reducing the time needed for recovery. You can read more about the science of interval training here. You'll notice that the video above is also an example of an interval training workout.

Learn by Doing!

If you’re want to know exactly what conditioning workouts to do for the next six weeks, sign up for our free Six Week SAQ and Conditioning Plan. 

The plan includes:

  • Video demonstrations of each exercise
  • Downloadable PDF file so you can track your progress
  • One email per week explaining more of the science behind the workouts
  • One email per week to provide you with some extra motivation!

If you’re not sure what to do in the next few weeks, or you’ve had trouble staying motivated in the past, sign up and get started!