Building Your Athletic Body: What Is An Athlete?

(Last Updated On: December 13, 2018)

IF you want to look like an athlete you need to train like one. I’m sure you’ve heard this by now- but achieving a fit, lean, functional and healthy athletic physique encompasses much more than just “how you train.” You can do plyometrics and Olympic lifts and sprints day in and day out but until you understand what it truly means to be an athlete, you’ll never obtain the physique you want. You need to train like an athlete of course, but you also need to think like one, eat like one, and recover like one as well. In this four part series I will be breaking down all aspects of what it truly means to obtain a disgustingly awesome athletic physique, from nutrition, to training, to recovery, and mindset, which is, perhaps the most important facet of all.

Ramico Blackmon

What is an Athlete?

Athlete, simply defined, is someone who participates in athletics. There are athletes of all tenants- from distance runners and cyclists to sprinters, to football players, soccer players, and crossfitters. But rather than an athlete trained in the specificity of one sport (I mean come on, sumo wrestlers are athletes, but I highly doubt that’s the physique you have in mind!) I like to think of an athlete in terms of someone who possesses the varying attributes of what it means to be FIT or to be a person of fitness. defines athlete as: “A person possessing the natural or acquired traits, such as strength, agility, and endurance,that are necessary for physical exercise or sports, especially those performed in competitive contexts.” I love this definition- because when I think of a desirable athletic physique I think of one that is strong, fast, flexible, powerful- one that can push and pull large objects, sprint and run long distances, bend and twist without issue, and face a varying array of physical challenges. The facets of fitness I feel any true athlete should possess are:

  1. ENDURANCE:  the ability your body has to gather, process, deliver, and sustain oxygen to produce energy needed for an activity.
  2. STAMINA: the ability to be efficient with energy usage- tied to efficient use of mental and emotional energy, in addition to physical energy…..  it is sustained strength to resist or withstand illness, fatigue, physical and mental hardship, discomfort, or pain.
  3. STRENGTH: the ability your body has to exert a muscular-skeletal force for maximum explosive and endurance movements against resistance…. Allowing you to be stronger in a greater number of circumstances
  4. POWER: the ability your body has to exert force against resistance causing the object of resistance to speed up or change position….. the ability to exert explosive force with your body and other objects
  5. SPEED: the ability your body has to move a part of the body or the entire body over as short a distance as quickly as possible…. Allowing you to become stronger and faster by targeting the nervous system
  6. FLEXIBILITY: the ability a joint displays to move freely through full range of motion- allowing you to be stronger over a greater range of motion
  7. COORDINATION: the ability to combine several different muscles, groups of muscles, energy systems and movement patterns into a singular, distinct and purposeful movement
  8. AGILITY: the ability to reduce transaction time from one movement pattern to another- being able to keep your balance while changing direction, stopping or starting rapidly, etc.
  9. BALANCE: the ability to control the placement of the bodys center of gravity- to hold a firm, stable foundation
  10. ACCURACY: the ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity while remaining correct, exact and without error.

Erin LavoieHot Lumberjack


You could possibly also add toughness to this list, as I feel mindset is an integral part of what makes an athlete…. The physical and mental ability to do something which is difficult or will take time and/or pain… the mental and physical fortitude to complete difficult tasks under difficult circumstances.   This type of athlete would be a well rounded, functionally fit, lean, muscular athlete, not built like a powerlifter but not built like an endurance runner either.  I’m not talking about an athlete who is specialized to produce physical ability in only one aspect of fitness but rather someone who can produce physical prowess in all of the areas I listed above.   Sound like the type of physique you are looking for? Then be sure to check back for the first installment of “Building Your Athletic Body: Mind Over Matter”