If you're a team sport athlete looking to increase your strength, power, and speed today, there are many exercises, programs, and formulas to choose from. It is often overlooked that many of these options likely have more similarities than differences in how you should be training. Here we've laid out 5 exercises that you can count on year-round no matter what sport you compete in to help you make gains in strength and durability to stay in the game.
With the number of starts, stops, cuts jumps, and turns in team sports, many of which are happening on one leg, this only makes sense as a means to improve performance and reduce the likelihood of injury. Oftentimes this exercise is skipped because it can be challenging and humbling when starting, but if you train them consistently, you will find yourself progressing in no time. Skater squats require plenty of single-leg strength, coordination, mobility, and balance so it checks many of the necessary boxes for athletes looking to enhance their overall athleticism and even out imbalances. The movement can also be progressed and regressed in almost any way you can imagine to fit your starting point. Once mastered this exercise offers a variety of loading options to add challenge. The movement can be loaded from the torso while wearing a weighted vest or bag, front-loaded holding a medicine ball at your chest, or loaded at an angle using a landmine.
To get started, take a stack of airex pads to mid-shin height as a starting target and aim to progress them to just the pad on the floor. Once you're standing on both feet in front of your pads, it's time to reach one leg back behind you, both knees bent. At this time, you reach your hands in front of you to counterbalance while tapping your back knee on the pad before rising and returning to the starting position with both feet down.
The Farmers Walk is a phenomenal exercise for athletes looking to enhance their strength and conditioning. This exercise, famous for its roots in competitive strongman competitions, engages every muscle throughout your body with every step you take, including grip and forearm muscles, traps and shoulders, and deep stabilizer muscles that help to protect the core, hips, and spine. For the benefits it offers, the exercise also does not have a steep learning curve or offer many risks, although while performing, attention should be paid to keeping the core tight and ensuring the shoulder blades are pulled back and down. The farmer's carry can be performed for distance or for time with varying loads of light, moderate, or heavy. Team sport athletes will also find that loaded carries are a meaningful way to enhance conditioning as well without putting excess stress on your body by running long distances.
Athletes spend a lot of their time pressing weights when working out and times when hitting, swinging, passing within their sports it is important to balance to workload on the front of the shoulders as all of these pressing movements can create imbalances.
Pull-ups work the shoulders, biceps, and lat muscles, and because this is a very functional movement and requires the athletes to be able to move their own bodyweight via skill and a baseline level of strength the movement may need to be regressed to just an eccentric pull up where the athlete lowers their body weight slowly and under control and has a partner help them return to the top of the bar. Once the regular pull-ups become easy, a progression would be to add an external load such as a weight vest or weighted backpack.
The glutes and hamstring are the engines of your body when it comes to playing sports, and its nordic leg curls that fortify these muscles, one of the most injury-prone muscles in the body, for high-speed running and jumping. Two of the most common flaws must be avoided here if you want to maximize your results on this exercise. The first one would be leaning forward at the hips as you descend on the movement, reducing the tension on the hamstrings. This typically happens because the athlete lacks appropriate hamstring strength. The other common flaw is rushing to the ground instead of lowering smoothly and under control. This also takes tension off the hamstrings and limits strength development.
These are an important exercise for anyone who finds themselves with poor posture from sitting all day. Pull Aparts strengthen the back and shoulders to help athletes maintain shoulder stability, mobility, and integrity while competing and training.
Perform the exercise by holding a lighter resistance band in front of your chest. With the arms straight, retract the shoulder blades and pull the band apart until it reaches your chest. On the way out, it is important to bring the band back together under control and avoid letting the band snap you back to the starting position. As you get better with this exercise, you can progress it by changing the exercise's tempo, meaning you change the speed you pull the band apart or bring it together with. Another option would be to alter the grip you use to perform the movement. If you typically do pull apart with your palms facing the ground, try a supinated grip where you have your palms facing the ceiling.