How To Look Like An Athlete

(Last Updated On: March 4, 2021)

The Best Workout For An Athletic Body

Let’s clear the air…

If you took different athletes from different sports and put them in a room together most of them will look different. Even if you take athletes from the same sport but different positions most will look pretty different.

For the sake of this article (and our sanity) when I say ‘look like an athlete,’ I am referring looking jacked. This means when you are walking down the street normal people stop and say “damn, that person is in good shape.”

Athletic body workout
Now that we got that out of the way, to look like a jacked athlete, not all training methods are equal and if you want an athletic looking body you have to follow a few important rules.

There are sport specific drills that you’ll see athletes doing that get them better at their sport — you do not have to do this.

In fact, you shouldn’t do this. Athletes have to do this to improve the skills that make them the big bucks.

For you, it’s about ‘looking like an athlete.’

The workout that I laid out for you covers a few very important parts that I’ll touch on quickly before giving you the goods.


Get Warm And Ready

The point of a warm-up is to increase your heart rate and get your body ready for the work it is about to go through, decrease your chances of injury, and to increase performance.

It’s not about how many of your body parts you can foam roll or how many different shapes of pretzels and corrective exercises you can put your body into.

Yea they might do well for an Instagram pic or two but they won’t do crap for getting you jacked and looking like an athlete.

Your goal is to make sure your joints are stable, mobile and you can perform the exercises in your workout with good form. That’s it.

Start with something to increase temperate like a cruise on the bike, jump rope, jumping jacks or simple bodyweight movements. Then you’re going to do 5-10 of exercises that closely resemble your first 1-2 exercises, then go get explosive…

Get Fired Up

Faster than a speeding bullet, quicker than a snap of the finger, jumps that put a kangaroo to shame, an arm that would make Mike Tyson jealous…

Just a few qualities that athletes possess.

Now you should be already warmed up and had some practice with this first power exercise.

The goal of this exercise is to not only increase overall power production — which is high in most athletes — but to get your central nervous system and body woken up so you unlock the ability to create more power throughout the rest of your workout.

This means more strength, more muscle, and more gains.

With power exercises, you want to take full recovery between your sets which can be anywhere from 90 seconds to 3 minutes depending on difficulty and load of the exercise but you should NOT be fatigued when doing power exercises — Yes, this includes box jumps!

If you’re keen like a detective you’ll notice in the article ‘Exercises to Increase Your Athleticism,’ I put power exercises after strength work. I did this because you MUST have a solid base of strength to get the most out of your power exercises.

In this article, I am making the assumption that you are already powerful and will get good use out of it.

Now that you’re body is fast and powered up it’s time to lift some heavy weights.

deadlift athlete workout


Lift Heavy Stuff

This is where you can start to have some fun.

Lifting heavy weights creates something called mechanical tension and is the main driver for getting you strong as hell. 

Do this with the compound lifts and perform them in the 1-6 rep range, with full recovery in between sets.


  • Bench press
  • Chin-up
  • Row
  • Military press
  • Deadlift
  • Squat
  • Variations of each

Overhead press

Create Damage And Pump Up

Now it’s time to pump those muscles up and feed them with blood and nutrients.

Geeky folk will call this part of the workout metabolic stress and muscle damage — this is a muscle building cocktail.

You’re going to want to pick an exercise that put lots of tension on your muscle when it’s in a shortened position AND exercises that put a lot of tension on the muscle in the longest position.

The exercises you are going to use are going to focus on the muscle groups you want to improve and you really want to stand out in your physique. Use single joint or compound exercises with moderate to high reps anywhere from 8-15+ reps for both of these.

Shortened position examples:

  • Leg extensions
  • Seated leg curls
  • Barbell curls
  • Triceps pushdowns
  • Lateral raises


Lengthened position examples:

  • Incline dumbbells curls
  • Overhead tricep extensions
  • Lunges
  • RDL’s

In some cases, you can get crazy and do 20+ rep sets or even 100 rep rest-pause sets. These will make you curse whoever wrote your program and if you’re doing the program in this article — you get the pleasure of cursing me.

Be warned…I respect creativity with your cursing, so make me proud.


Make It HardCORE

I’m not talking about grunts, chains, yelling, throwing chalk or smacking the back of your training partner before a lift.

You want your abs, obliques, spinal erectors, and butt so freaking strong you can plan your two feet firm into the ground and let the tornado from the movie Twister swirl by and aren’t even phased. No moving, no shaking.

Having a strong core not only looks sweet but it keeps you safe and it will make all your exercises stronger because your body works as one big chain.

If you have a weak core you’re missing out on crucial energy that could be going into your lifts and into your physique.  

MaTT Ferro Abs fitness model

Putting It All Together

Now you know the important parts of a workout that are going to give you an athletic body.

  • Warm-up
  • Power exercise
  • Strength exercise
  • Higher rep hypertrophy exercises and core work

Here is a sample upper body workout that will leave you walking around looking like Thor…

Warmup: General upper body foam rolling 3-5 min, bodyweight squats x 10, walking lunges x10/side, scap pushups x 10, underhand band pull-aparts x 15, over and backs x 10, lying handcuffs x 10, pushup x 15

1) Vertical jump with overhead medicine ball throws 3 x 5 reps
Rest 90 seconds  

2) Barbell bench press 4 x 5 reps **lower under control, and try to push the bar away from you as fast as possible every rep**
Rest 2-3 minutes

3a) Steep incline dumbbells presses 4 x 8-12
3b) Hanging leg raise 4 x 8-10
Rest <30 seconds between exercises and 60-90 seconds between sets

4a) Bent over row 3 x 10-12
4b) Rear delt fly 3 x 12-15
4c) Farmers carry 3 x 30 yards
Rest <30 seconds between exercises and 60-90 seconds between sets

5a) GHR sit ups 3 x 10-12
5b) Barbell curls 3 x 10-12
5c) Russian twists 3 x 10-12
Rest <30 seconds between exercises and 60-90 seconds between sets

I hope you enjoyed the article and comment below if you have any questions.

See you next time, when you’re even more jacked.

Joey Percia

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