Why You Should Train Like an Athlete, Even If You Aren’t One

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You don’t have to be playing in front of thousands of people or sign a seven-figure contract in order to train like an athlete.

Although, lets be honest: both would be nice.

I’m often asked how I go about writing programs for my athletes as opposed to by everyday regular Joes and Janes; how much do they differ?

Well, not as much as you think!

Rest assured there’s a lot of attention to detail when training anyone – regardless of athletic background. It’s important to take into consideration one’s injury history, anthropometry (anatomical differences), training experience, goals, and a host of other variables.

However, with regards to athletes, I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have to be even more meticulous with their programming at times. When you’re dealing with a million dollar arm – literally – for example, the last thing you want to do as a strength & conditioning coach is place the athlete in peril, performing exercises with high-risk/low-reward value.

(For the record, peril in this case doesn’t mean life threatening or anything. Just, you know, you don’t want to do stupid shit with them, like juggling chainsaws on a BOSU ball, or using a BOSU ball in general).1

Not to mention you have to respect the ebbs and flows of off-season vs. in-season program design, and the unique stress each sport places on the body.

I.e, how you write a program for a football player will differ quite a bit from a baseball player…based off the demands of the sport.

All that said, the principles I follow whether I’m training an athlete or general pop client don’t differ much.

My male and female clients still squat, deadlift, row, press, perform farmer carries, toss med balls, push the sled, and otherwise vomit (not literally) strength and conditioning all over the place.

Likewise, while I may not clock their 40 yd times, I still have them skip, shuffle, jump, and move around like athletes.

Life = The Ultimate Game

Am I right, or am I right?

Training like an athlete provides many benefits: (generally speaking) improved muscle mass, strength, body composition, bone health, CNS inter/intra coordination, better balance, and an overall sense of athleticism.

It also makes you a better dancer. #truestoriesitellmyself

Lets face it: after a long day at work and using all your will power not to stab your boss in the throat with a stapler, what sounds more enticing….heading to the gym to perform a few sets of this and a few reps of that with no rhyme or reason or lifting something heavy with some purpose and tossing/dragging stuff around?

 

On a related note: wanna know what my litmus test is for athleticism in my “non-athletic” clients?

It’s not 1RM testing on anything, and it’s not testing their vertical jump.

It’s a simple drill that everyone has done at one point or another in their lives………….

Skipping

And I’m not talking about “Dorothy skipping down the yellow brick road” skipping. I mean, athletic skipping.

 

The saying is true: “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” (<– trying really hard to refrain from a penis joke here).

Athleticism is one of the first things to fade as we grow into adulthood. We trade in fields and courts for filing cabinets and coffee mugs that says “World’s Best Boss.”

One of the first drills I use with my general fitness clients to help build up their athleticism is plain ol’ vanilla skipping.

Along with shuffling, medicine ball drills, jumping, kettlebell swings, and uphill sprints (less wear and tear on joints).

Many people are programmed to think that training has to be analogous to calculus: “x”reps for “y” sets, done with the same machines, in the same order, time and time and time again. Boring.

It’s amazing to see my clients become invigorated and enjoy their training sessions again by having them perform more un-traditional exercises/drills. They think they’re training like athletes….

…..because they are.

Why You Should Train Like an Athlete

My good friend, Jen Sinkler, is involved with a new project coming out soon called Lighting & Thunder.

Below is a link to a short video you can watch explaining some of the benefits of training like like an athlete, even if you’re not.

NOTE: no spam involved here. Jen hates spam as much as she hates not wearing lip gloss.

—> CLICK ME <—

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  1. KIDDING! And by “kidding” I mean the same “kidding,” like when my wife is all like “hey, lets talk about our feelings and stuff!” And I’m all like “sure, I’d love to.” But really all I want to do is stab myself in the eyes repeatedly with a toothpick. You know, that kind of kidding.

  • Shane Mclean

    Love the waving cameo by Eric in your video. Nice work Tony.

    • TonyGentilcore

      He’s the king of video bombing.

  • Rachel

    True story: I once thought skipping was galloping. Haha! I think I was born the most nonathletic person ever….which goes to show that anybody can change their fitness if they work hard enough! We did skipping a lot when I interned at Absolute Performance and my skips + overall movement on a field improved a ton just over the 3 month span.

    • TonyGentilcore

      I think skipping is highly UNDER-valued. I use it as litmus test for movement quality with my athletes and adult clients.

  • I enjoyed the video especially the second one. It was short but interesting! Life is a challenge in itself so I agree that one should train himself like a athlete.