5 Ways to Train Like an Athlete

For me, one of the hardest transitions in my life was going from competing in sports everyday, to just being a regular Joe schmo.  Being an athlete is not only an identity, it truly is a lifestyle.  But why does that lifestyle have to end when you stop playing sports at a high level?

For the rest of our lives we are all athletes.  Things like chasing after our kids, or moving furniture, all take some level of athleticism.  To stay athletic, you have to train like an athlete.  Today, we are covering 5 ways you can be train to be an athlete for life!

1) Do More Compound Lifts

    Pull ups are a great compound exercise 

    Pull ups are a great compound exercise

Having a training program based on compound movements rather than body parts. ¬†Isolated lifts may be good for aesthetics, but do not transfer well to sport movement . You’re not gonna see Lebron James doing a “bi’s and tri’s” day in preparation for his season. ¬†Focus on movements that will transfer to over to whatever to whatever the demand of your life are.

What to do:

Categorize your exercises by movements and not body part.  So instead of doing a bicep curl, do a pull up instead.

2) Do More Single Leg Exercises

We are going to break up up our lifts into 2 categories, bilateral (2 limbs) and unilateral (1 limb).  When we think about the tasks an demands on being an athlete, the majority of them are done in a untilateral fashion.  Actions like running, cutting, or even walking all take place with one foot being off the ground at some point.  That emphasizes the importance of single leg training.

What to do:

               Bulgarian Split Squats 

               Bulgarian Split Squats

                       Single Leg RDL   

                       Single Leg RDL

Add some unilateral exercises lower body exercises into your program. ¬†The exercises pictured, Bulgarian split squats and Single Leg RDL’s are to of my favorites.

3) Train in 3-D

In life we don’t move in just one direction, so why then do most people train like that?¬† It’s important to understand that we move in 3 planes of motion throughout the day. ¬†Those 3 planes are as follows:

  1. Sagital Plane- Forward and Back
  2. Frontal Plane- Side to Side
  3. Transverse- Rotational Movements  

Training as an athlete means more of an emphasis in training in all 3 planes of movements to better prepare you for the demands of your sport or your life. ¬†This is especially true of sports that require multi-directional movement.¬† However when it comes to programming for “non-athletes”, most of it is done exclusively in the sagital plane (think forward lunges, deadlifts, etc).¬†¬†If you want to move better, that’s something that has to change.

What to do:

Do an audit on the exercises you most commonly do in the gym and see if there is a way to do it in another plane of motion.  One of my personal favorites is the lateral lunge.

4) Do Explosive Lifts

Jess Sandbag .PNG

When we think of being powerful, the image that comes to mind is usually a running back plowing through a defender , or a UFC fighter knocking out an opponent.   But what about grandma walking down stairs, losing her balance, and trying to catch herself?

The term power is defined as “the rate at which work is done or energy converted”. ¬†What that basically means is how fast you can produce force. ¬†Or can grandma put her leg in front of her fast enough and with enough force to keep from falling?¬†Power is something that we all need to have and will keep us athletic for the rest of our lives.

Some of the most common power exercises include olympic style lifts such as cleans and jerks. These are great, but I would recommend hiring a coach before trying these on your own.

What to do:

Program power into the beginning of your workouts. ¬†If you don’t know how to do olympic lifts, then that’s OK. ¬†There are many other safe, ¬†effective, and easy to use alternatives. ¬†One of favorites is the sand bag clean or high pull.

5) Train Your Core the Right Way

All good athletes need to have a strong and effective core. ¬†In addition to providing stability, a well trained core helps make movement more efficient, and reduces risk of injury. ¬† The problem is, most people’s idea of core is still sit ups and crunches. ¬†Here’s why that is not correct. ¬†Make core training and emphasis.



What to do:

Break up your core in to 3 categories.  Ant-extension, Anti-Rotation, and Anti-lateral flexion.  The pictures below will be give you an idea of what those look like.  For me information on core proper training, click here.

Training like an athlete isn’t about how how fast you can run, how high you can jump, or how much weight you can lift. ¬†It’s about how well you can live your life and training with a mindset. That means training with a purpose and intent. Now go out, and start living like an athlete!

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