How To Train Like An Athlete AgainFeb 08, 2022
Do you miss feeling athletic? For anyone that’s played sports in the past, recreationally or competitively, there’s something about looking and feeling athletic. For most people, the thought of being athletic is the powerful combination of smooth and effortless movement and mobility paired with high levels of power, strength, and explosiveness. You can usually tell an athlete when you see one.
While you may not have the desire to be as athletic as ‘the good ol days’, at Inside Out we believe that if you have a body, then you’re an athlete. Being an athlete simply means being able to choose whatever activities you want, or do not want, to perform. Put another way - freedom to do the physical activities and challenges you want without limitation.
Do you have friends running a half marathon in 3 months that you would want to join for? Is there a pickup volleyball or basketball game you’d like to be part of? Maybe there’s a Spartan Race or CrossFit competition that you’d love to do to push yourself physically and mentally. Maybe your kid keeps begging you to come run around and play with them, but you can’t do it without paying the price the next few days.
Training like an athlete means that you’re ready for whatever physical challenge life throws your way.
Let’s look at the key areas you need in your exercise program to start looking, feeling, and training like an athlete again:
Go find a serious athlete that doesn’t warmup. This sets the stage for the training session and prepares your body for what’s to come. It also helps you perform at a higher level to get the most out of your training. This often includes some combination of dynamic movements and activation exercises that gets your body firing on all cylinders.
Too often people neglect this all together or perform a half hearted warmup (AKA a couple minutes on the exercise bike, a few arm swings, and then onto the workout). The warmup is an incredible opportunity to not just prepare your body for the workout ahead, but also prepare your body for life. The more you put your body in different positions, the more resilient your body will be if you have to suddenly get in those positions during sport or during life.
If you need help getting started, check out our Warmup and Mobility Overhaul Blog
When you picture an athlete, do you picture someone who is always stiff, achy, and can barely touch their toes? Or do you picture someone who makes challenging movements look effortless?
A common thread amongst athletes is a solid base of mobility. Obviously this will vary a bit from sport to sport, but the athletes that are overly stiff or rigid will often face injury or poor performance. Having a good base of mobility will not only protect your body from aches, pains, or injury - but it also has the ability to boost your performance inside and outside of the gym.
If you have to fight your own stiffness every time you drop down into a squat or lift something over your head, it’s not going to allow your body to work the way it’s supposed to. Overtime this leads to more feelings of being stiff, achy, and ‘feeling old’.
If you know your mobility needs some work, check out our 30 Day Mobility Challenge to jumpstart your progress.
Explosiveness (Agility and Plyometrics)
This is one of the areas that most people lose the quickest after playing sports. In most athletic programs, these get much more focus compared to traditional workout programs you’ll find. On top of that, when you’re actively participating in a sport, you’re regularly performing these movements. And this can very much be an ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’.
While you will want to ease back into these slowly to allow your body and connective tissues to catch up, these are important to have in your training program to some degree. Even if you’re not looking to play a competitive sport, agility and plyometrics will make you more balanced, boost your performance in the gym, and allow you to react to the random things that life might throw at you.
Let’s do try these line hops, depth drops, or box jumps as a starting point:
Athletes are strong. Even the ones that don’t look strong have a base foundation of strength that allows them to look and feel the way that they do. Strength doesn’t mean you need to back squat 400 lbs. or have the strongest bench press. There’s many people that can do that who aren’t actually strong - they’ve just gotten really good at a specific movement that doesn’t always translate to sport.
Truly being strong starts with having great control of your body without any weight. Mastering the basics. Then moving to a variety of other strength movements that challenge your body. A strong athlete is one that can express that strength whether on one leg or two, whether using a barbell or a sandbag, whether it’s a movement they’ve done a few times or a few thousand.
That’s the kind of strength that’s worth working towards.
The last piece to a training program is the conditioning. The part that gets your heart rate up, burns your muscles, and makes you a little uncomfortable. This is the love/hate piece that anyone that’s played sports may not look back at so fondly.
Having a good base of conditioning is important for both long-term health and being able to perform at the level you want without feeling limited. It can range from more explosive and shorter duration conditioning to long, slow, and steady conditioning. The key is to train your body to be prepared for all of them. This will allow you to be able to confidently perform any activity or workout, and also usually comes with a nice side effect of being leaner and helps with maintaining the look of an athlete.
One word of caution with conditioning - it’s much more than just beating your body up like certain sports promote. A good conditioning program needs to be strategic, varied, and take your long-term health into account. Simply beating yourself up, without enough recovery or variety, will lead to burnout or injury as we’ve seen all too often. There’s no one size fits all approach with this, which is why we’ve seen so many people with injuries due to following workouts at a gym that are too challenging for where they’re at.
Having An Athlete’s Mindset
The last piece that ties this all together is your mindset. You need to develop the mindset of an athlete to look and feel like an athlete. This will mean pushing yourself at times, staying disciplined even when your schedule is tight, and not missing your training sessions.
But this also means taking care of your body and your mind to know when you need to rest and recover - something that is also lacking for many people that get addicted to always pushing themselves.
If this is something you’re already doing well, keep going. It’s one thing to maintain this lifestyle for a week, a month, or even a year. But the goal is to find an exercise program that makes you feel athletic for the rest of your life.
If you know you want to start feeling like an athlete again but you have no idea where to start, we’re here to help. We build out custom exercise programs based on your specific starting point, needs, and equipment and time you have available. Even the best athletes utilize a coach to help them reach their goals, and we’d love to help you get there if you need some expert guidance and accountability.
Click here to fill out a contact form and we’ll schedule a time to jump on a free call to discuss your goals, how our program works, and answer any questions you may have.
Keep training like an athlete!
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