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The 14 BEST Exercises for Serious Athletes

Matt Skeffington

Matt’s primary role at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is to make sure that our coaches and clients are consistently improving, all while operatin...

Matt’s primary role at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is to make sure that our coaches and clients are consistently improving, all while operatin...

Nov 3 10 minutes read

At DSC, we are on a Mission!

 

A mission to change the way athlete's prepare for their sports physically, mentally, and nutritionally forever.
What we know is that the way athlete's get ready for there season matters more now than ever.

The days of just showing up to tryouts and working off the rust is over.

Today, athletes are bigger, stronger, and faster.

Sports are becoming more and more competitive due to athlete's specializing earlier in particular sports and advancements in performance & sport training. 

Take baseball for example.

10 years ago it was extremely rare to see a pitcher throwing 100mph. There were only a handful of players in Major League Baseball who were doing it.

Now it's common to see multiple pitchers on professional teams throwing 100mph. The Boston Red Sox alone had 5 pitchers throwing 100.

As you can see relying just on your natural talent isn't going to work.

It's imperative today that you get your body ready months before the season starts.

The off-season should be spent in the gym improving your speed, agility, endurance, power, strength, and injury prevention.

As they say, "championships are made in the off-season"!

This will give you a HUGE advantage come tryouts or the regular season.

Just imagine how good it's going to feel showing up to day 1 more prepared than any other athlete there. 

Imagine being ready for all that running coach is going to make you do at tryouts.

Imagine having your best season yet!

To get you started, we've created a list of our top 15 exercises for athletes!

These are exercises that are specifically designed to help you run faster, cut harder, jump higher, fatigue less quickly, and take your performance to the next level. 

Enjoy!

1| Trap Bar Deadlift

Lower body strength is a must for athletes. In fact, it is a game changer. The stronger your legs and hips are, the more force you're able produce. This is the essence of sprinting - producing as much force into the ground, as fast as possible. The stronger your legs, are the more force you can produce (think pushing into the ground), the faster you are. When you sprint you push into the ground. When you jump you need to push into the ground to go up. To shuffle, your outside leg pushes the ground away to move. Our #1 exercise for athletes is the trap bar deadlift as it builds some seriously strong lower-bodies (push muscles) and targeting the glutes and hamstrings (huge for injury prevention, especially at the knee). 

Start with 3-4 sets of 8 reps.

2| Tennis Ball Sprints

In sports, you not only need to be fast but quick to react. Athletes need the ability to go from a dead stop or a walk and get into a full sprint as fast as possible (think an outfielder in baseball chasing down a deep fly ball). Tennis ball sprints combine the best of both worlds - speed and reaction (and even mix in some hand-eye coordination!

Start with 3 sprints/leg.

3| Sled Marches

If the sled march isn't tied with the trap bar deadlift for the #1 exercise it's a very close second. The heavy sled march is another fantastic lower body strength builder and is great for building athletic speed. It's great for athletes as the position your in and the action of your legs mimics the acceleration phase (first 10-20 yards) of sprinting. It also teaches kids to PUSH when they sprint and produce serious force. If you do not produce force, that sled is not moving. 

Start with 4-6 25 yard sled marches.

4| Kettlebell Jumps

So you want to jump higher? You want to be more explosive? Enter the kettelbell jump. By overloading your jump with resistance, it teaches your body to produce more force when you jump during your games. This leads to more explosiveness on the field, faster sprints, and higher jumps!

Start with 4 sets of 8 jumps.

5| Push-Up

The push-up is the #1 upper-body exercise for athletes. Not only does it build some seriously strong arms, backs, and chests, it forces the abs to work extremely hard to keep position, which is fantastic for core stability. There are countless ways to advance the push-up to keep you feeling challenged -- check out some advanced push-ups, HERE!

Start with 3-4 sets of 10 reps.

6| TRX Row

Think of the TRX row as the reverse push-up. The push-up strengthens the front, pushing muscles like the tricpes, chest and and anterior shoulder. The TRX is great for shoulder health and stability, as it works to pull the shoulders back and strengthen the muscles that keep it stabile during activities. For every 1 pressing exercise you do, do 2 rowing exercises to keep your shoulders strong and healthy. 

Start with 3-4 sets of 10 reps.

7| Reverse Lunge to 1-Leg Deadlift

The reverse lunge to 1-leg deadlift is a very challenging lower-body exercise that is fantastic for athletes. Athletes play most their sport on one leg at a time when they run, sprint, and cut. Our training should reflect this. This movement is great for building single leg strength and balance. It also targets the glutes and hamstrings which are big players in force production and injury prevention (especially at the hips and knees).

Start with 3 sets of 8 reps/side.

8| Band Anti-Rotation Press

When it comes to core work, most of your exercises should be ones that force your to resist motion. That is the true function of your abs. Think about a basketball player working to hold their ground when boxing someone out. Or think of a football lineman blocking someone and working to hold their position. Their core and hips are working hard to hold their body in position so they can out strength their opponent. The band anti-rotation is great for strengthening those muscles like you obliques and glutes.

Start with 3 sets of 8 reps/side.

9| 1-Leg Hurdle Hop

The research shows that injury rates, especially ACL injuries are on the rise. The good news is many of these injuries are preventable with the right training program. When you look at non-contact ACL injuries, they happen when an athlete try to land and decelerate during a cut or a landing from a jump, and they happen on one leg. They lack the control, position, and strength to hold their knee in a good position. The 1-leg hurdle hop is our favorite drill to help with just that. It teaches athletes to land with good knee alignment and strengthens the muscles that help you decelerate, like your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. 

Start with 3 sets of 5 reps/side.

10| Kettlebell Goblet Squats

The kettlebell goblet squat is a great exercise for athletes as it builds lower-body strength which is crucial for increasing speed, power, and injury prevention. The kettlebell held at the chest forces athletes to keep their posture tall and abs braced which is great for teaching proper squat technique before advancing to more advanced movements like the barbell squat.

Start with 3-4 sets of 10 reps.

11| Ball Rollouts

Ab strength is crucial for athletes. First, your core is the center of everything. It doesn't matter how strong your legs or arms are, if you core is weak your performance will suffer. Your core help you transfer force, allowing you to sprint faster, throw harder, and be a more explosive athlete. Strong abs also has a massive injury prevention component. It protects against injuries especially at your low back and hips. 

Start with 3 sets of 8 reps.

12| Curved Treadmill Sprints

The curved treadmill is a must for athletic off-season training, especially those those we do not have the luxury of training outdoors during the winter months. The curve of the treadmill forces athletes to improve their running posture and leg action. It also allows athletes to sprint at maximum levels, drastically increasing their speed. Most athletes need to be explosive over and over again during their game. We match our sprints with the demands of the athlete's sport. For example soccer players typically sprint for 1-5 seconds and then jog or walk for some times a full minute. Our soccer players sprints would match this as we have them typically sprint for 5-10sec and rest for :35-1:00 for multiple rounds. 

Start with :10 sprint followed by :45 rest for 8 rounds.

13| Hip Mobility Flow

Athletes need to be mobile. They need the ability to get into and control large ranges of motion when playing their sport. The overly stiff athlete with have a hard time playing low, rotating, and moving laterally -- all huge components of being a great athlete. This hip flow increase mobility at the ankles, hips, and shoulders. 

Try this before every training session and competition -- Start with 4-5/side.

14| 2-Point Med Ball Chest Pass

Just as we want our athlete's lower-bodies to be explosive, we want their upper bodies to be as well. This is where med ball work comes in. It trains the core and upper body to be strong and explosive. Our of our favorite drills is the 2-point med ball chest pass. It comes lower and upper body reaction and power. Keep the med balls light (4-8lbs) as the goal is to be as sharp and explosive as possible. 

Start with 3 sets of 5/side.

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