Amp Your Athleticism the STACK Way

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We've spent years obsessing about training, completely immersing ourselves in advice from the nation's top S+C coaches. We've identified and presented hundreds of cutting-edge workouts that are respected by the industry's best trainers.

So now it's STACK's turn to design our own full-body, athlete-molding, regurgitation-inducing workout. The hours we spent creating, testing and retesting the following ingenious exercises resulted in a routine that will spike your weight room prowess, force noticable athletic gains and ultimately assess your ability to meet a challenge.

To prove the each exercise or adaptation accomplishes the goal of creating a stronger, more explosive athlete, we tested our workout using the infallible, old-school scientific method.

Mission: Using limited equipment, construct an innovative, full-body workout to produce a better athlete.

Background Research

1. Every STACK training interview and article since February 2005
2. A lifetime of experimenting with various training methods
3.'s ever-expanding library of 4,000+ training videos


1. Introduce you, the dedicated STACK reader, to exercises and lifts you've never heard of or seen
2. Spice up stale lifts you're familiar with by combining explosive movements and new angles, which will stimulate muscles in ways they've never been stimulated before
3. Provide seven simple-to-learnand- execute exercises that can be performed in any environment [well, except for one exercise if you live in a topographically flat location]
4. Ensure you're not "that guy" in the weight room—you know, the dude who grunts in the mirror with each rep, as he performs lame, ineffective lifts gleaned from [admit it, you've either seen that guy, or (gasp!) you are that guy]

Certification by STACK expert contributor

Every STACK-developed exercise received a stamp of approval from mad scientist and well-respected Denver Nuggets strength coach Steve Hess, whose many duties include concocting training programs to whip his NBA team into shape. Hess concludes that STACK's workout fulfills each listed objective, asserting: "Remember this, the body is a complex entity and if not sufficiently challenged, it won't sufficiently benefit. Train outside the box!" His professional comments and colorful insights accompany each exercise.

Analyzing the Data Drawing Conclusions Communicating Results

The final step in the process is up to you, the reader. Test this workout on your own, then feel free to offer feedback [] or share glory stories about your personal gains. We recommend performing the workout once a week, or at the very least, incorporating some of the exercises into your personal program. STACK and Hess agree that it's an imaginative and strenuous regimen; but ultimately, the decision to undertake such a project is left to you, the driven, committed, stallion-of-an athlete who will do anything and everything to succeed.


1. One 45-pound barbell
2. Two light dumbbells [Don't try to be a hero by going heavy]
3. Pull-up bar
4. Three towels [one big, two small]
5. A grassy hill [Yes, you read that right]
6. Intestinal fortitude [and possibly a trash can nearby]

Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatch to Push Press

Benefits: Full-body explosion with double-duty adaptations of Olympic lifts

• In athletic stance, bend at waist with shoulders over toes and back flat; hold dumbbell between knees with right hand
• Explosively extend hips, knees and ankles, driving right elbow high while keeping dumbbell close to body
• Drop hips and catch dumbbell overhead with straight right arm
• Bring dumbbell down to right shoulder with control
• Explode up with lower body to drive dumbbell toward ceiling until arm is straight
• Return to original start position; repeat for specified reps; perform set on left side

Sets/Reps: 3x5 each side [1 Snatch and 1 Push Press constitute 1 rep]
Coaching Points: Begin with light weight and focus on form first // Do not rush movement // Avoid pressing dumbbell during Snatch
Hess: Love this exercise! Absolutely love it, baby! It is incredibly effective at increasing your vertical jump [through] your second jump, and most of all, [it] helps your body work together as one unit. This exercise could be an incredible piece to a workout program, [but it must be performed correctly], as it's a fairly complex exercise that puts you at great risk if not done correctly. [Any athlete could benefit from this exercise.]

Push-Up to Slide Fly

Benefits: Chest and tricep strength with core and shoulder stability development

• Assume Push-Up position on gym floor [or other low-friction surface] with small towel under each hand
• Perform 3 Push-Ups; at top of third Push-Up, keeping arms straight, slowly slide hands out as wide as comfortably possible, then back in to shoulder-width distance
• Perform 3 more Push-Ups; repeat sequence for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x5 [3 Push-Ups and 1 Fly constitute one rep]
Coaching Points: Keep core tight // Keep body in straight line from shoulders to toes
Hess: Way to create a great little exercise that can be done anywhere. What makes this exercise awesome is the fact that you have to use your core stabilizers as well as intrinsic shoulder stabilizers, which you don't always train. This is a good upper body stabilizing exercise and a great variation of the standard Push-Up. Though you are not using your full body, I still like this exercise as your upper body and core definitely benefit. It is imperative that a young athlete understands that if your core is not strong, it is tough to create optimal power.

Dumbbell Squat Jump to Pull-Up

Benefits: Lower body explosion, upper body strength, and mental and physical conditioning

• Assume athletic stance holding light dumbbells at sides with Pull-Up bar in front
• Using proper squat technique, squat until tops of thighs are parallel to floor
• Explode up and jump for maximum height
• Land in athletic stance with soft knees; gently place dumbbells outside of feet on ground
• Jump up to grab pull-up bar with shoulder-width grip
• Perform 3 Pull- Ups, lowering with control
• Let go of Pull-Up bar and step back to original position
• Squat and pick up dumbbells; repeat sequence for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 4x5 [1 Squat Jump and 3 Pull-Ups constitute one rep]
Hess: This is an incredibly creative exercise that forces you not only to use your physical strength but mental strength, too. If you are not focused, you run the risk of missing the bar. It is very effective in improving explosive power. Although the Pull-Up portion is not incredibly sport-specific, you are teaching your body to work out of normal parameters. Brilliant thought process! Way to go STACK!

Dumbbell Get-Ups

• Lie on ground on back holding light dumbbell with right arm fully extended toward ceiling
• Keeping arm straight up, slowly sit by bringing feet toward butt
• Shift weight onto feet and slowly rise into standing position without allowing arm to fall from vertical position
• Finish in standing position with arm straight over head
• Return to start position through same movement pattern with control
• Repeat for specified reps; perform set with opposite arm

Benefits: Full-body strength combined with core and shoulder stability work

Sets/Reps: 3x5 each side
Coaching Points: Keep arm perpendicular to ground throughout entire set // Get creative with different movement patterns, from lying position to standing and vice versa // Focus eyes on dumbbell to help maintain balance
Hess: Oooooo baby! Love this one! You have to engage your entire core plus use muscles you didn't even know you had to move the dumbbell. Love the ability to change the start positions. This may not be an exact replica of a sport-specific motion; however, body strength and core stability will definitely improve. This is an absolute keeper.

Barbell Leg Raise/Toe Touch Combo

• Lie with back on ground holding barbell above chest with wider-than-shoulder-width grip
• Without bending knees or allowing lower back to come off floor, slowly raise legs until they are straight up over hips
• Lower legs with control until heels are just above ground; repeat for specified reps
• After final Leg Raise, keep legs straight up and perform Toe Touches, bringing barbell to toes for specified reps

Benefits: Upper and lower ab strength with shoulder stability as an added bonus

Note: Perform one leg at a time to make exercise less demanding

Sets/Reps: 3x15+15
Coaching Points: Keep barbell directly above chest during Leg Raises // Keep arms locked out and avoid using momentum for either portion of exercise
Hess: This is a good variation on a reverse crunch. I prefer to engage the core in a more athletic position, specifically standing, but remember this: variety is the spice of life and the spice of a workout program. This is a good bit of spice with the added excitement of shoulder stability.

Towel Manual Resistance Seated Row

• Sit on ground facing partner who is holding middle portion of long towel
• Grab ends of towel and have partner provide resistance so that your arms are straight in front of you
• Without rocking, drive elbows straight back until hands are at chest
• Return hands to start position with control, still against resisting partner
• Repeat for specified reps

Benefits: Grip, bicep and back strength while enhancing upper-body muscle balance

Sets/Reps: 4x12
Coaching Points: Keep chest up and back flat // Have partner provide steady, constant resistance to allow smooth motion in both directions
Hess: This is applicable because the majority of athletes spends time developing the anterior [front] portion of the upper body and neglects the posterior [back] portion. Doing an isolated back exercise—concentrating specifically on those posterior muscles—can do wonders for the structure of an athlete's body. Not only does it help with posture, which is important, it helps the shoulder joint to set correctly, thus alleviating the possibility of an impingement in the shoulder. As a general rule, I like my athletes to do two back exercises to every one chest exercise.

Uphill Fight

• Lie on ground on back at base of grassy hill, so that hill is to your right
• Keeping body somewhat straight and perpendicular to hill, slowly roll to right, uphill
• Continue rolling uphill by gripping grass with hands, rotating with core and gripping again
• Continue for specified duration
• Perform set with hill to left

Sets/Reps: 3x30 seconds each direction
Coaching Points: Keep core tight // Do not kick legs to create uphill momentum // Work to get further up hill each workout
Hess: STACK, you got me on this one! I've never done it before, and I am about to steal it. This drill is incredibly creative and a ton of fun, and I love the cardiovascular conditioning component. But what excites me the most are the intangibles and the athlete's ability to overcome these to get to the top of the hill. Please believe me, my athletes will be doing this.

Benefits: Core, shoulder and grip strength along with a conditioning element—and straight-up, unadulterated will

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock