There’s no question that Power Cleans, Deadlifts and Bench Presses help improve sports performance. However, you can’t expect to perform these lifts effectively if you cannot move efficiently.
To become a better athlete, you need a strong base of functional movement and strength. Power, strength, speed and agility all stem from being functionally strong. The following five exercises will accomplish that goal for a maxed out performance.
Handstand or Pike Push-Ups
In my opinion, one of the hardest bodyweight exercises is the Handstand Push-Up. This exercise is great for shoulder and upper back strength. (See Build Powerful Shoulders With Handstand Push-Ups.) However, if you have a shoulder injury or cannot perform this movement, perform Pike Push-Ups.
Broad or Vertical Jumps
Maximal jumping can develop your glute muscles like no other exercise. Robert Griffin III jumped 10 feet in his Combine Broad Jump test. Where are you at? (Get better at this move with STACK’s Exercise of the Week: Depth Jump to Long Jump.)
Herschel Walker does 2,000 Push-Ups a day. How many can you do? If you can’t do at least 20, you have some upper-body functional work ahead of you. (See 10 Powerful Push-Up Variations.)
If you can do more than 50, start doing Plyometric Push-Ups with a clap and One-Arm Push-Ups.
Pull-Ups or Aussie Pull-Ups
The military fitness test counts 20 to 25 Pull-Ups as a perfect score. No exercise promotes functional upper-body strength better than pulling your own body up. (Read Pull-Up or Chin-Up: Which is Better?.)
If you cannot perform a regular Pull-Up or Chin-Up, begin with an Aussie Pull-Up. To do this, position yourself diagonally under a Smith machine rack and pull your chest up toward the bar.
Single-Leg Pistol Squats
Unilateral strength is just as important as bilateral strength. When performing this exercise, focus on slowly lowering yourself to a low bench (or ideally a BOSU ball). Aim for five seconds down, then shoot up as fast as you can for power. (See STACK’s Exercise of the Week: Single-Leg Pistol Squat.)