Stronger athletes are better athletes. They exercise more, can lift more weight, run faster and jump higher than most of their counterparts.
Of course, there are plenty of ways you can get stronger without lifting weights or getting on a bench press machine. A few basic exercises can help develop your total body strength and make you better at whatever sport you play.
Exercises To Become A Stronger Athlete
Here's a look at six such exercises:
#1 Front Plank
The front plank primarily works the abdominal muscles, such as rectus abdominis (your 'six pack').
It requires engaging them strongly enough so that they support most of your weight. This exercise also involves some glutes action, as these muscles are used when lowering down from an upright position takes place during movements like squats or lunges.
Here's how it's done:
- Start in a push-up position with your hands directly beneath the shoulders and feet about hip-width apart.
- Press into the ground, and lift your body until you create a straight line from head to heels. Keep your abs engaged, and use them to help support your body as you move it up and down as if marching in place.
- Your goal should be to hold the position for one minute at first, working up to two minutes of total time over several weeks of training.
#2 Lateral Plank Walk
Here's how it's done:
- Lie on your side with your legs together, arms extended out to the side and palms flat on the floor.
- Lift up onto one arm, and step your feet forward into a plank position, keeping yourself stable by engaging your core muscles and pressing down through your feet.
- Slowly lower yourself back down to starting position as you shift onto both hands and feet before stepping back into place.
- Keep your knees bent at 90 degrees, hips lifted off the floor, spine straight (but not rigid), torso rotated to face inwards towards the other leg/foot and head relaxed so that it's looking directly at that foot.
#3 Reverse Lunge and Touch
This exercise targets the gluteus medius, a muscle that helps stabilise your pelvis while running or jumping.
It also activates core muscles, such as rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis—two major components of your body's core stabilisation system. They work together to help keep your posture when moving through space. If they're weak/underactive, other muscles have to compensate for them, which can lead to injury over time.
Here's how this exercise is done:
- Stand tall with your feet together or about hip-width apart.
- Step back with one foot, keeping the heel on the floor as you lower down into a lunge position.
- Return to standing position, and repeat on the opposite leg.
- Repeat for 15 to 20 reps on each leg.
The inchworm is one of the most underrated exercises. It builds strength throughout your body, including your core and back. It’s also low impact, so it won’t harm your joints like a few other beginner exercises.
To do an inchworm: Get into a push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor and legs straight out behind you at shoulder width or wider. Keeping everything tight—especially those abs—lower yourself down like you're about to do a push-up till your arms are fully extended overhead.
Walk forward as far as possible before doing another push-up and walking back again. Repeat for reps or time or both.
#5 Single-leg Deadlift to Row
Here's how it's done:
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell or dumbbells in front of your body.
- Keeping your back straight and chest up, push through the heel of your working leg to lift the weight toward you, keeping it close to the body.
- Lower the weight back down, and repeat on the other side for one rep.
- Do three sets of ten reps.
#6 Single-leg Squat to Box
This exercise strengthens your leg muscles, improves coordination and balance, and increases flexibility in the hips. It requires a lot of core strength, as you're balancing on one leg for a prolonged period of time.
This is an advanced move, so if you're new to it, start with a smaller box, and work your way up as you gain strength and confidence. If possible, have someone who's familiar with this exercise coach you through the first few tries till you get the hang of it.
It's easy to lose balance when first learning how to do this move.
The best exercises to become a stronger athlete are ones that challenge your body in new ways.
The aforementioned exercises can help you build strength and endurance, which are essential for any sport. If you want to get started with these workouts, try doing some push-ups with one hand while holding onto something sturdy.
Over time, work up from there by adding more repetitions or increasing how long each rep takes before switching hands again so that eventually both arms are working together on every rep.
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