There is nothing worse than doing the same workout week after week, except never progressing.
It’s like stabbing yourself in the eye with a rusty fork or eating baked tilapia for 6 meals a day. I’d rather line up against Ray Lewis and let him hit stick me without pads on.
If you are reading this article you’re interested in more than just looking decent. You want to be stronger, faster, bigger, but you also want to be more athletic and look awesome.
After putting what you learn in this article to the test, you’ll dominate the teenagers at your local YMCA with ease.
Whatever you want to improve, this article will show you the steps you need to take to get there.
You might be following a body-part routine that you ripped out of the back of an old fitness magazine. Maybe you picked up a new powerlifting program that you read about on the internet because it’s supposed to get you stronger which is supposed to make you more athletic.
This isn’t the best option to become an athletic beast, but it’s a start.
Keep reading to find out what you need to be doing to dominate on the court or field in as little as 2 weeks.
First, Up Your Mobility Game
We have to make sure your joints are both stable and mobile before you become a speeding bullet.
If you’re tight and locked up your muscles will be restricted, so they won’t work to the best of their ability. It’s like driving with the emergency brake on.
Start every workout with a good warm-up. These exercises can also be included in rest periods and in your downtime, which is known as ‘fillers’.
Do enough to get yourself in the proper positions to safely perform the exercise.
If you have a super tight back and hips from sitting at work all day, you’re going to need a bit more to get into good positions.
You don’t need to become yogi here. Don’t lose sight of what your actual goal is — to become more athletic.
Your warm-up will be dependent on your restrictions and what you are going to be training.
‘How to move like a ninja’ is a great example. This is known as a flow. It is a combination of a few simple exercises that help un-lock super tight areas on most people.
You can even start with something like jumping rope, jogging, mobility drills, bodyweight movements, or wearing extra layers of clothes, then move into some other basic warm-up exercises, like the ones you will find in the sample workout at the end of this article.
Do something for 5-10 minutes that will increase your body temperature and get your muscles and joints prepped for working out. Then rehearse the main movement you are about to do for a few minutes to practice that.
Now you are ready for the next step.
Second, Up Your Strength
The next piece of the puzzle is using your newly found range of motion and build a solid base of strength. This means compound exercises with heavy weights that are going to challenge you and make sure your form is perfect.
Before you go swinging weights around and dive-bombing into the bottom of a squat keep reading.
A good strength base is like a solid foundation of a house. It might look good on the outside but without it, you aren’t going to last long.
Think of your strength as a glass. Inside that glass, we have water which represents your athleticism. As a general rule the greater base of strength, the greater potential to increase your athleticism.
Bigger glass = greater potential for more water.
There comes a point where you can be close to your strength potential and will see better gains by improving other characteristics like power production, reaction time, etc.
How do you get strong and athletic?
You are better off focusing on getting really strong in single leg exercises and using bilateral (two-legged) variations to supplement.
There are a few reasons for this, the main two are:
- Most sports and athletic events include a flight phase where you will spend a majority of your time on one leg so it makes sense to train that way.
- Single leg exercises limit the amount of external load you can use which will reduce the overall stress and recovery. That way you can focus on getting strong, powerful and better at whatever activity you are looking to improve.
Here are a few of my favorite exercises:
- Heavy sled pushes and drags
- Bulgarian split squats
- B-stance variations
- Single leg deadlift variations
- Hip thrust variations
- Goblet squats
- Hex bar deadlifts
Pick 1-3 of these exercises and perform them for 3-4 sets each in the 5-10 rep range and you will be on your way to becoming more athletic in no time.
Third, Up Your Power
Power is a product of strength and speed, so basically it’s how fast you can do something. That is why it’s important to develop a solid strength base before getting to this point.
When you are training to become more athletic you need to increase your ability to produce power.
This means we have to get stronger AND faster.
When training for power it’s important to perform these exercises fast, hard and angry but under control.
I call it ‘training with bad intentions.’ If you are familiar with boxing just take a look at Mike Tyson. He is a perfect example of someone who could move great, was strong, powerful and threw every punch with bad intentions.
This simple tweak in how you perform an exercise can be the difference between a strength exercise and a power exercise.
There is a big difference in box squatting with chains and trying to move the bar as fast as you possibly can vs. perform the same movement with a slower tempo and going into cruise control at the point of the movement when it becomes easier.
Here are a few of my favorite power exercises:
- Sled Sprints
- Dynamic Effort Squats and Bench Presses against bands or chains
- Jump variations
- Heavy or Band Resisted Kettlebell Swings
- Medicine ball throws (watch this video)
- Push Press to overhead toss from chest
- Vertical jump to overhead toss from chest
- Kneeling jump to overhead toss from chest
- Kneeling jump to overhead scoop toss
When incorporating power exercises remember to take full recovery in between your sets, typically 90 seconds to 3 minutes. You don’t want to perform these exercises in a fatigued state.
Power exercises should be done early in your workouts when you are fresh and can put all your effort into it. This means before your strength work.
Why didn’t I make these second then?
Because you have to develop a strong base of strength before you can become powerful and more athletic.
Pick 1-3 of these exercises and perform them for 3-6 sets in the 3-6 rep range. Exercises like banded kettlebell swings are typically done for sets of 6-12.
Try This Workout To Improve Your Athleticism Today
Unlock Your Lower Body —
- Half Butterfly w/ lat stretch x 8 breaths per side
- Rollover into v-sit x 8
- Deadbugs x 8 / side
- Single leg glute bridge x8 / side
- Walkout w/ pushup x 8 / side
- Alternating shin squat x 5 /side
- Prisoner Jump Squats x10
A1) Kneeling jump to overhead scoop toss 3×3
A2) Vertical jump to toss from chest 3×3
Rest 2 minutes
- B) Sprints 3×20 yards
Rest 2 minutes
- C) Hexbar jump squat 6×3 (use 30-40% 1RM)
Rest 45-60 seconds
D1) Kettlebell Powerbomb swing 4×8
D2) Reverse crunch with alternating heel tap 4×8
D3) Single-leg glute bridge 4×8
Rest 60 seconds
- E) Medicine ball approaches 3×3 /side
60 seconds rest
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Don’t Miss This Crucial Step
The order to become extremely powerful went like this — mobility, strength, power. But here’s the catch…
Once you have good mobility and develop a good strength base, you are ready to train for power.
When you do this, make sure you put the power exercises early in the workout when you are still fresh.
When training to become more athletic, you must make sure your speed and form are always perfect. No exceptions, unless you want to get injured and slow down your progress immensely.
As soon as either one of the drops off you should stop the set. Not only do you increase your chances of injury, but start training other characteristics that are not speed, power, and athleticism.
Mobility: Do something for 5-10 minutes that will increase your body temperature and get your muscles and joints prepped for working out. Focus on tight areas and movements you are restricted in. Then rehearse the main movement you are about to do for a few minutes to practice that.
Strength: Pick 1-3 of these exercises and perform them for 3-4 sets each in the 5-10 rep range and you will be on your way to becoming more athletic in no time.
Power: Pick 1-3 of these exercises and perform them for 3-6 sets in the 3-6 rep range. Exercises like banded kettlebell swings are typically done for sets of 6-12.
There you have it. Pick a few of these exercises and get to work. Then go dunk on some 16 years old’s next pick-up game.
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Joey Percia is a coach at a training studio in New York City and also runs a successful online training business. He is a competitive powerlifter in the 181 division and has totaled 1400lbs. Joey has a Masters degree in Exercise Science, is a CPPS coach, Westside Barbell Coach and CSCS. Follow him on Facebook, you will be glad you did.