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The All-Around Athlete Workout

February 1, 2013 | Jim Carpentier

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To really stand out in the eyes of coaches and scouts, an athlete needs to possess a combination of strength, size, speed, endurance and stability. It's the complete package for all-star status. (Check out How to Deal With College Coaches.)

The following exercises incorporate all those eye-catching athletic attributes into an intense lower- and upper-body workout. Perform them during an off-season conditioning program to become one of those "all-around" athletes on opening day.

Workout Guidelines

Always start with a lower- and upper-body dynamic warm-up and finish with cool-down lower/upper-body static stretches for flexibility.

Perform this workout on non-consecutive days for adequate recovery.


  • Two heavy dumbbells (90% RM)
  • Two moderately heavy dumbbells (80% RM)
  • Two lighter dumbbells (60 to 70% RM)
  • A water bottle


Strength Sets: Deadlift and Shrug

Sets/Reps: 3x5 at 90% RM

Strong muscles, joints and bones can help lower injury risk during practices and games and also give you an edge over weaker opponents. An example of superior strength is a football linebacker overpowering an opponent at the line of scrimmage.

  • Assume athletic stance
  • Bend your knees and keep your back straight, head forward and abdomen tight
  • Slowly lift dumbbells from ground in two seconds
  • Shrug shoulders and hold for two seconds
  • Lower to start position in two seconds
  • Rest 60 seconds between sets

Works: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower middle and upper back, chest, biceps, forearms, shoulders, trapezius, and abdomen.

Size Sets: Lunge and Overhead Press

Sets/Reps: 3x10 at 80% RM

Adding muscle aids fat-burning metabolism and lessens injury risk during the season. Thicker muscles also boost power. A muscular baseball player generally hits the ball farther and for more extra base hits and home runs, for example.

  • Hold dumbbells on shoulders, lunge forward with right foot while explosively pressing dumbbells overhead
  • Start to alternate lunge and press reps with left and right leg
  • Rest 30 to 45 seconds between sets and hydrate after last set

Works: Effective lower and upper-body muscle builder—targeting quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, triceps, chest and shoulders.

Speed and Endurance Sets: Multidirectional Sprint with Jog in Place

Set/Reps: 2 sets

  • Hold one light dumbbell (60 to 70% RM) overhead and sprint forward 10 yards
  • Jog in place 10 seconds
  • Bring dumbbell to chest level and laterally carioca for 10 yards
  • Again jog in place 10 seconds
  • Hold dumbbell overhead and sprint diagonally 10 yards
  • Jog in place 10 seconds
  • Hold dumbbell at chest level and backpedal to start position
  • Rest 30 seconds and repeat sequence once more. Hydrate after second set.

Works: Multidirectional 10-yard sprints promote leg speed and agility. The ability to spontaneously move fast in various directions on the field, court or ice is a game-saving skill. Jogging in place for 10 second while holding a dumbbell overhead or at chest level boosts lower- and upper-body endurance for going the distance without fatiguing towards the end of games.

Size and Stability Sets: Single-Leg Squat/Chest Press

Sets/Reps: 2x10 at 80% RM

  • Hold one dumbbell at chest level while standing on right leg
  • Slowly bend right knee (left leg off ground) in a squat position, then quickly rise while pressing dumbbell away from chest with arms extended
  • Continue for nine more reps, then immediately do 10 reps with left leg
  • Rest 30-45 seconds between first and second sets

Works: The Single-Leg Squat is an excellent balance exercise, engaging core stability for the lower back and abdominal muscles while also adding size to the legs and hips. Balancing on one leg is often seen in sports such as wrestling, basketball and football. Examples of the importance of balance in football are when a receiver catches a pass and maintains both feet in-bounds, or when a running back pushes on one leg without his knee touching the ground to gain an extra yard.

Leg balance in basketball is evident when a player stays in bounds on one leg while preventing an errant pass from going out of bounds. Core stability is required in sports movements such as twisting, turning, and reaching below, across and overhead, for example. Chest presses increase pectoral, shoulder and triceps size for pushing and blocking in football and passing and shooting in basketball, for instance.

Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness...
Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness...
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