These days, there is a huge misconception with what it actually means to train for athletic performance.
You may scroll through your Instagram feed and see some "performance" gurus that crawl around all day mimicking every level of the food chain in the animal kingdom.
Some coaches will have their athletes do about 7 hours of mobility work and send them home.
But is this what you should be doing if you want to look like a shredded MMA fighter or NFL wide receiver?
Having worked with athletes and regular guys that want to get jacked and shredded with the strength to back it up for the last 12 years, I have experimented with every training program under the sun.
Through experimentation on my clients and myself over the years, I put together a blend of the best stuff from each training modality that I have played around with.
Regardless if you are still a competitive athlete or just someone who is looking to get strong, jacked, lean and athletic, following the steps I am about to give you can help get you to your goals faster.
Listed below are the steps you can follow to finally achieve the look of a strong, shredded athlete with the health and performance to back it up!
So let’s get started.
Just before the start of your training session is a perfect time to work on your flexibility and SMR (Self Myofascial Release). For your flexibility work I like to address severely tight areas (typically the hamstrings, glutes, hip rotators and flexors, pecs and lats) and the muscles that we will be training that day.
In the past static stretching prior to training was frowned upon. However I have been doing this for years and never had an issue. In fact, some of my clients who were extremely tight were able to get into certain positions they normally couldn’t have after some light static stretching pre-workout.
SMR is a great way to relax tight musculature prior to training. Foam rolling and using a lacrosse ball are my go to just before I begin my warm-up. Typically I prescribe massaging the back, glutes, hips, I.T. bands and quads for most of the people I work with.
DYNAMIC WARM-UP/CNS ACTIVATION
I have talked about the importance of a thorough dynamic warm-up plenty of times in previous articles so I won’t beat a dead horse. Just make sure you go through a body weight circuit prior to the start of your strength work. This will help increase your heart rate and core temperature, improve mobility and flexibility, lubricate your joints and put you in a safer state to train in.
A good dynamic warm-up can take 10-15 minutes.
Once you complete your mobility circuit then I like to prime the CNS or Central Nervous System just before your strength work.
JUMP, THROW AND SPRINT
Now is a good time to work on your power. Since you are in a warmed-up, fresh state this is the best time for your explosive movements.
Jumping, throwing and sprinting aren’t just great for developing power. They are also some of the most athletic things that you can do. Use different variations of all three.
Doing some type of jump, throw or sprint just before your strength work is also great for priming your CNS before you hit your heavy lift for the day. Just be sure that you don’t turn this into a conditioning routine and fry yourself out. That’s the opposite of what you want.
Typically on jumps and throws you can do about 3-5 sets of 1-5 reps. For sprints you can do 3-5 sets of 10-25 yards tops.
Here we are focusing on strength. Which means we are focusing on either increasing weight or reps you accomplish with a particular load over the course of your training cycle.
For the most part, your big lifts like the squat, bench, deadlift, overhead press, chin-ups and their variations are programmed here.
Keep in mind that your big, compound movements are what’s going to help get you strong as shit and pack on the most muscle from head to toe. But keep in mind that if you are a little older and/or beat up you don’t have to stick strictly to a barbell. You can certainly use variations of each movement that can be done a bit safer.
For instance, if you have access to specialty bars at your gym you can replace a barbell squat with a safety bar squat. Or a straight bar deadlift with a trap bar.
Otherwise, you can use a dumbbell or kettlebell for exercises like the goblet squat instead of using a back squat. Or you can stick to a neutral grip DB press on an incline instead of a straight bar bench press if you have beat up shoulders.
The possibilities are endless. The important thing is that you are mimicking each particular movement pattern with a variation that you can handle.
PUSH, DRAG, CRAWL, CARRY
The best way to look like an athlete is to do athletic shit. Jump, throw, sprint, carry, drag, crawl and lift heavy.
Pushing or dragging a heavy sled is tremendous for lower body strength. It’s also a great way to hit the lower body without loading the spine.
Another great thing about sled work is that you won’t get sore from it since there is no eccentric component.
This way you can drop a B.M. without any additional discomfort. Lord knows we can all use some more comfort during a B.M.
Working in different crawls like Gator Walks and Bear Crawls are great for the core and shoulders so make sure you work those in too.
Loaded carry’s like Farmers Walks are great for developing the muscles that make up the core, hands, forearms and can pack on slabs of muscle to the traps.
Once you’re doing all that then the one missing piece is to play as often as possible. Softball, basketball, martial arts, biking, hiking, tennis, swimming…whatever. Just be active, play and compete as often as possible.
Being competitive is great for overall well-being.
Competition is a fun way to get your “cardio” in and is great for testosterone production, which will help you build more muscle and burn more fat.
Plus, it’s never a good look to walk around all jacked but look like a total schlub as soon as your buddy throws you a basketball.
Take advantage of the summer and all of the activities that go along with it.
If you want to look like an athlete then you better be eating like one. If you aren’t sure how to do that then check out this article I wrote that shows you how to eat for health and longevity with the physique to back it up.
Now that you know the steps to get on your way to looking and performing like an athlete, it is up to you to follow them.
I hope this article helps you achieve the results you’ve been looking for. Have fun and do whatever it takes to look and perform the way you have always wanted.
Kick ass this summer, guys!