If you want to increase your sports performance, you have to be hitting the weights. That’s not a groundbreaking statement by any means. However, we need to be aware that not all exercises are going to be equal when it comes to how it translates to your sport of choice.
Biceps Curls are going to have little to no translation to performance for a hockey player (no matter how nice big arms are aesthetically)
This doesn’t mean you can’t add these exercises in (because who doesn’t want to build nice arms?) but we need to look at exercises that will allow us to perform our sport more effectively. With every sport being vastly different with different demands on the body, it can be next to impossible to suggest a one-size fits all solution to what exercises are “best”.
However, I’ve compiled 5 simple exercises below that I feel will benefit the majority of the athletic population. I say simple, because these are good basic movements that most people should be able to do with little to no instruction. Technical lifts such as deadlift, hang cleans, etc. can be very complex and potentially harmful if you haven’t been taught how to do them properly.
If you are looking for instruction with these, find a Personal Trainer that can help you. For Personal Training in Edmonton – please contact me directly or clicking here
Now for the exercises:
Lunge variations are some of the best exercises we can do as athletes to increase our performance! Far too often people train with both feet on the ground with movements like Squats and Deadlifts. These are called bilateral movements, and while they are important to develop lower body strength, stability and explosiveness, there are very limited times in sport where we are moving with both feet at the same time.
This is where Unilateral movements (moving one limb at a time) can be super beneficial. Lunges and their variations are a great example of this. Each leg does the work on its own, which not only strengthens muscles like the quads and hamstrings, but also works smaller stabilizing muscles through the glutes, hip, calves, and foot. This can help increase strength, explosiveness, balance, stability, and coordination for athletics performance.
For beginners – Begin with Stationary Lunges
For advanced – Try Bulgarian Split Squats
2. Sled Push
Once again, this movement will train our legs in a unilateral way. It’s not just the legs that get a benefit with this exercise however – as the core and upper body play a large role in this exercise as well.
While many can view the sled push as a cardiovascular exercise (and it can be, it really can be), it’s also can translate into different aspects of our sports performance. By adding heavier weight, you can stimulate more of a strength response from the body, while doing high intensity bursts with breaks between can increase our explosiveness.
A benefit of the sled push is that there is no eccentric phase in the exercise (this is where the muscle lengthens), lowering the overall damage to the muscle during the activity. This can be great for quick recovery when athletes need to perform.
Trainer Tip – Keep your body in a diagonal position, keeping the hips in line with the shoulders. This will prevent you from using a lot of your lower back compared to if you are folded forwards at the hips.
3. Box Jumps
This one is a bit of a no brainer, most sports will have some form of jumping involved. Even if there is no jumping involved, most sports require us to be explosive – and almost nothing trains that quite as much as a jump. Not only will this help you generate more power and explosiveness, it will also help you with body coordination and balance.
Many people will use box jumps as a form of cardio – doing rep after rep in a row. If we are training to improve our explosive ability, we want to focus on explosive movements. Aim to do a lower number of reps but with more force behind the reps. This will not only help your explosive strength, but lower the amount of wear & tear on the knees.
Trainer Tip – Focus on landing as softly as possible on the box. Our ability to decelerate and absorb the force of our jump is vital for the long-term health of our knees and ability to play our sport of choice. Deceleration is an area of focus for athletes – but we’ll touch on that in a later blog
4. Cable Core Rotation
A lot of the movements in sport rely on rotation through the core, whether it’s running, throwing, or swinging a club/stick. This makes training the core essential for any athlete.
One issue I’ve seen a lot with core training is that people will focus on doing massive amounts of repetitions of an exercise, rather than find a way to add resistance. Our core muscles are like any other muscle, we want to get them stronger by introducing resistance. This is why the Cable Core Rotation is a good option for athletes, as it allows them to train their core with resistance.
Not only are you able to load the exercise, but the movement lends itself to generating force through both the core muscles (specifically the obliques) and hips. It will help work on generating power, creating more balance and stability through movement.
Trainer Tip – Perform this exercise in a standing position to involve more of the hips, or a half kneeling position to focus more on the core.
Trainer Tip 2 – Ensure you are using the core as the primary mover, and do not allow yourself to overuse your shoulders as you rotate.
One of the most simple and convenient exercises, push-ups should be a go-to for most athletes to include into their workout routine. When done properly push-ups can effectively strengthen the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. By chaining together so many muscles for the movement it can help with body coordination and mechanics. Because many sports rely on pushing or throwing, having a strong upper body is important for high performing athletes.
While bench press can be a good way to help increase strength, we shouldn’t dismiss the benefits of calisthenics work in our training, and controlling our own bodyweight. Depending on how the exercise is performed, Push-Ups can be great for muscular endurance, strength, and power/explosiveness.
Trainer Tip – If you struggle with Push-Ups, or Plyometric Push-Ups (Push-up with the hands leaving the floor at the top of the movement), perform the exercise on an inclined surface such as a bench or box rather than performing them from the knees – as this can throw off the biomechanics of the exercise.
To Wrap Up:
Again, exercises for sports performance will greatly depend on which sport you are performing. Each sport has its own unique challenges and movements to help increase performance, but the 5 exercises listed above should help in most athletics situations. While specifically training to improve in your sport should be the priority, adding in additional resistance work can help give your performance a boost.
If you’re struggling with staying on top of your game, and feeling like you’re losing a step – I have specialized programs to help athletes get back to tiptop shape, regardless of age. If you want to learn more – click here – to fill out a quick questionnaire and set up a consultation call, to see if the programs available are a good fit for you.
As always, choose to live life to the fullest
Owner, RK Athletics
Edmonton Personal Training