As we age out of our sport playing years, many people turn to training for simple aesthetics in the gym. While there is nothing wrong with training for aesthetics, it sometimes does not cover all of the bases in terms of power, strength, and injury prevention. Strength and cardio, two of the most common components of a modern, aesthetically focused training program, are extremely important but are only two of the many qualities of athleticism. So what does “training like an athlete” look like? And how can it help you?
3 basic principles to follow in order to train like an athlete are
Doing drills or lifting weights with speed
Getting off the ground (jumping, skipping, hopping)
A simple way that I incorporate speed work into my training program is having two days a week that my warmup is “SAQ” (Speed, Agility, and Quickness). These can include sprints, gassers, lateral shuffles to sprint, change of direction work, and cone drills. Medicine balls slams are another great movement that works speed and power production.
Hop, Skip, Jump
When was the last time you skipped? Hurdle hops, jumping, and power skipping are great drills to make your training more athletically focused.
Agility can be defined as “the ability to move quickly and easily.” Working footwork, change of direction abilities, and through multiple planes (moving forwards, backwards, and laterally) are effecting in helping to stay agile.
As with any training program, there should be balance between the type of movements you do. Don’t start sprinting every day and neglecting your squats and deadlifts. In balancing training focuses, Generation Iron states, “Don’t discard athletic performance for aesthetic muscle. Don’t avoid building quality muscle because you think it will hinder your athleticism. Marry both together and it’s sure to be a long lasting relationship.”
Combining resistance training and cardio
Regardless of whether you love or hate cardio, it is important to consider incorporating strength training into your programming. Strength training can complement or be the focus of any program and conclusive research supports its validity. Strength training not only promotes longevity but can have short term benefits on your current training program. For example, a recent study found that combining strength training combined with aerobic training can enhance endurance capacity through a variety of mechanisms. These include increases in maximal strength, neuromuscular connections, and recruitment of Type II fibers (“fast twitch”). Thus, nobody, not even our marathon runners, have an excuse to exclude strength training from their workout program. Regardless of your goals, it is advantageous both long term and short term to include strength training in your exercise program.
At the end of the day, do something you enjoy and that you will do consistently. If you love cardio, there are many different ways you can vary your training to avoid boredom or plateau. If cardio isn’t your thing, you could arguably get by without it, as long as you are active in other ways. Non-cardio lovers could also utilize barbell complexes, interval work, learn a new athletic skill, or just go outside for a walk. And as always, incorporating strength training into any workout program will provide many benefits, even at the aerobic level.
Training like an athlete does not have to be complicated or exhausting and could start with incorporating something as simple as power skips into your warmup. Getting back to the basics of moving weight quickly, sprinting, jumping, skipping, and movement through all planes are ways to maintain strength, speed, and power as we age. Training does not have to look like “x sets of y reps” every session. Performing non traditional movements like power skipping and change of direction drills are ways to keep training fun, as well as maintain your athleticism through adulthood. Looking to make your training more athletically focused? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org today to set up an initial consultation!