Invented by a group of high school students in the late 1960s, ultimate Frisbee—or simply “ultimate”—can be seen everywhere from the sunny college campuses of Southern California to the liberal arts havens of New England. Ultimate is a sport of non-stop movement and athletic endurance along the lines of soccer, coupled with the throwing and catching skills of football.

The athletic skills involved in ultimate, in addition to the endurance and throwing and catching skills, include agility, speed, coordination and rapid transitions from offense to defense and back again.

It is undoubtedly a serious sport featuring impressive levels of athleticism, but does it offer enough of a physical challenge to improve and maintain cardiorespiratory fitness? ACE-supported research sought to find out.

The 16 participants in this study competed in a series of eight matches, each of which consisted of four 10-minute quarters. The researchers measured heart rate, calories burned and distance traveled.

What the researchers found was that ultimate Frisbee is a moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity that is certainly adequate to fulfill exercise intensity guidelines for improving and maintaining cardiorespiratory fitness. The all-out sprints followed by jogging back on defense created a sort of interval-training workout. The participants burned an average of 477 calories, which again exceeds recommendations, and they traveled an average of 1.35 miles (2.2 km) per 40-minute match.

Perhaps most importantly, the ultimate Frisbee players were having fun outdoors while meeting physical-activity recommendations, which means that the sport is a great addition to anyone’s exercise regimen.

Before you or your clients step out onto the field for a game of ultimate Frisbee, here is a workout that can be used to help prepare the body for the demands of the sport. Note: At the top of this page, ACE Certified Professionals can access a printed version of this workout, which can be given to clients to use on their own.

This workout consists of warm-up, conditioning and cool-down segments that are designed to enhance an individual’s current level of fitness. To improve cardiorespiratory fitness prior to an initial game, it is important to focus on performing moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise as frequently as possible and for as long as possible while gradually increasing to bouts of at least 20 continuous minutes on at least three to five days per week. The initial exercise intensity should be at a level that allows the individual to speak comfortably while exercising and eventually progress to performing intervals of higher and lower intensity to meet the demands of ultimate Frisbee.

The following workout focuses on muscular fitness and can be performed two to three days per week. 

For each segment of the workout, perform all exercises in the order listed. If performing more than one set during the conditioning segment, complete one set of all exercises before moving on to performing the sequence again.




Warm-up: Perform each exercise for 1 minute

Bear crawl

Body-weight squat

Forward linear jumps


Lateral crawl

Lateral hurdle run




Conditioning: Perform 1 to 4 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions

Sprinter pulls

Glute bridge single-leg progression

High plank T-spine rotation

Scapular stabilization series

Push-up with single-leg raise

Standing hay baler

Renegade row

Side lunge


Cool-down: Perform each exercise for 30 to 60 seconds 

Bird dog


Child’s pose


Downward-facing dog

Kneeling hip-flexor stretch


Preparing for the physical demands of an activity is a critical step to optimizing safe and effective participation. If your clients are interested in participating in ultimate Frisbee, encourage them to incorporate this workout into their training, as it will help improve their muscular fitness and performance.