How to Improve Your Appearance and Performance | STACK

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How to Improve Your Appearance and Performance

March 30, 2012

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Burning fat and building muscle are common goals for athletes, and rightfully so. By adding lean muscle and trimming fat, you will be stronger and faster while improving your overall appearance.

Achieving your ideal body will require a specialized training program designed to stimulate muscle growth and burn calories. How? By performing the workout at a rapid pace with minimal rest, keeping your heart rate elevated and maximizing the metabolic demands.

The full-body workout below involves a majority of multi-joint exercises. The more muscles you use, the more calories you burn. Plus, you will develop strength in your entire body, which is essential for athletes.

Perform this workout three times per week, with one day of rest between workouts. Perform each exercise for eight to 10 reps unless specified otherwise. I recommend performing each exercise with a 3-0-1 tempo, meaning that you do the downward phase of a movement—like lowering a bar to your chest during the Bench Press—for three seconds, then immediately do the upward phase in one second.

The workout is organized into five combos, each with three exercises. Perform each combo for three sets, resting 15 seconds between each exercise. After finishing a combo, rest for two minutes before moving on to the next. In total, this workout should take no longer than 60 minutes.

Combo 1

Single-Arm Kettlebell Swings

  • Assume athletic stance and grip kettlebell with both hands
  • With kettlebell at right hip, explosively swing it, finishing with arms in front, slightly overhead
  • Swing kettlebell to left hip in controlled manner and immediately repeat
  • Repeat for specified reps in alternating fashion

Single-Arm Kettlebell Swings

Bench Press

  • Unrack bar and hold directly over chest
  • With spotter nearby, lower bar to chest with control
  • Forcefully extend arms to drive bar to starting position; do not bounce bar off chest
  • Repeat for specified reps

Bench Press

Wide-Grip Pull-Ups

  • Place hands wider than shoulder-width and grip bar with palms facing away
  • Pull up until chin is over or even with bar
  • Lower until arms are fully extended
  • Do not swing body or use legs for momentum
  • Repeat for specified reps

Wide-Grip Pull-Ups

Combo 2

Dumbbell Incline

  • Lean back on incline bench, holding pair of dumbbells at armpits
  • Forcefully extend arms to drive dumbbells straight up over chest; do not arch back
  • Lower dumbbells to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Dumbbell Incline

Bulgarian Dumbbell Split-Squat

  • Stand in lunge or stride position with back foot on bench or box
  • Hold dumbbells in both hands with arms at sides
  • Lower into lunge position until thigh is parallel to ground; keep front knee behind toes
  • Extend hip and knee to drive up to start position; repeat for specified reps
  • Perform set with opposite leg

Bulgarian Dumbbell Split-Squat

TRX Inverted Row

  • Hold onto TRX straps directly over chest; increase body angle to reduce difficulty
  • Keeping body rigid, pull body up until chest is even with hands
  • Lower with control until arms are straight
  • Repeat for specified reps

TRX Inverted Row

Combo 3

Standing Straight-Arm Pulldowns

  • Stand facing cable machine, about arm's length away
  • Grasp bar at approximately eye level with arms straight
  • Pull bar down to thighs; keep arms straight
  • Slowly return to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Standing Straight-Arm Pulldowns

Squat With Single-Arm Press

  • Assume athletic stance with feet slightly wider than hip-width, holding dumbbell at shoulders with palm facing in
  • Keeping back straight and knees behind toes, sink hips back and lower into squat position until thighs are parallel to ground
  • Extend hips and knees to drive up while pressing dumbbell overhead
  • Lower dumbbell to shoulders; repeat for specified reps
  • Perform set with opposite arm

Squat With Single-Arm Press

Dumbbell Reverse Flies

  • Lie face down on bench with arms extended and thumbs facing up
  • Pinch shoulder blades together and raises arms to sides until parallel to ground
  • Slowly lower to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Dumbbell Reverse Flies

Combo 4

Dumbbell Curls

  • Assume athletic stance with dumbbells at sides and palms facing out
  • Bend elbows to curl dumbbells to chest; keep elbows at sides
  • Lower dumbbells to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Dumbbell Curls

Farmer's Walk

  • Start with medium-weight dumbbells that you can carry for 30 to 60 seconds
  • Hold dumbbell in each hand
  • Keep arms straight next to sides
  • Walk in straight line and maintain good posture
  • Keep core muscles tight

Distance: 30 to 40 yards

Farmer's Walk


  • Grasp handles of Dip machine and support body with straight arms
  • Lower body with control until chest is at hand level
  • Push body up until arms are straight; repeat for specified reps


Core Combo


  • Lie on stomach with elbows bent beneath you
  • Keeping body in straight line, raise onto forearms and toes
  • Hold for specified duration

Duration: 30 seconds


Pallof Press

  • Assume athletic stance with feet wider than hip-width and body positioned perpendicular to cable
  • Grasp handle with both hands directly in front of chest
  • Extend arms in front of chest, keeping core tight
  • Flex arms and return to start position with control; repeat for specified reps
  • Perform on opposite side

Reps: 15

Pallof Press

Physioball Rollouts

  • Assume kneeling position with hands on physioball in front
  • Roll physioball away from body until hands are overhead; keep core tight
  • Roll physioball toward body to rise to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Reps: 20

Physioball Rollouts
Dean Hollingworth, CSCS, has extensive experience working with athletes of all ages, helping them develop speed, agility and strength. He has consulted with various amateur and professional organizations as a fitness specialist for tennis, hockey, gymnastics and football; and his involvement has directly contributed to athletes’ performance both on and off the field.

Dean Hollingworth
- Dean Hollingworth, CSCS, has extensive experience working with athletes of all ages, helping them develop speed, agility and strength. He has consulted with various amateur...
Dean Hollingworth
- Dean Hollingworth, CSCS, has extensive experience working with athletes of all ages, helping them develop speed, agility and strength. He has consulted with various amateur...
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