How To Train Like An Athlete

how to train like an athlete

Frequent readers know that I’m not married to any one type of training. I’m not convinced that there’s one type of training method or system that works better than another which is why I go ape sh#t when I read about a trainer on Facebook or Twitter proclaiming that their system or a specific workout trumps all. My entire goal for this website is to be “the line in the sand” in regards to fitness, nutrition, strength training, performance enhancement and supplementation. Evaluate, test and look deeper into studies or methods to see what fits.

Answer these four questions when trying to determine if a new method is right for you

  • What are my goals?
  • Do I have a time frame for reaching my goals? (contest, fight, season, etc)
  • What are my limitations? (time, equipment access, injuries)
  • Can I commit to this approach long term?

The debate or “revolution” (hence my sarcasm?)  that always pops up is that one should “train like an athlete”. That “training like an athlete” is far superior to any other training system. What these people fail to realize is that when you break down what “training like an athlete” truly means, you realize how stupid of a argument it is.

Argument #1: Body Part Training Detrimental To Athletic Performance

No, no,no. Now we’re assuming and you know what happens when you assume, don’t you?  The notion that body part training can somehow hinder your performance is dumb, it really is. Let’s look at this two ways

  • You’re training a general population client who just wants to burn fat. Why wouldn’t I throw some curls and pushdowns into their program? They are PAYING you to help THEM look better?  They do want to be tighter and more defined, right? Personal training dictates that you only see the client two or three times per week so you obviously are going to try to train as many muscle groups as possible.  Do they need to “train like an athlete”? No, they just need a little more consistency.
  • You’re under the impression that body part splits are hindering your workouts? But are they really? I highly doubt it. Have you built SO much muscle mass that you can’t move? Of course not or else you’d be a bodybuilder. More then likely your just immobile and tight, which we’ll cover later or you haven’t made continual strength gains, which is YOUR fault, not the fault of any training style.

Take Away: Body part training isn’t for everyone, I’m not suggesting it is.  What are your goals? If it’s vanity based, which is ok, then why ignore some isolation training?  You’ll never build too much muscle, if your performance is hindered it’s more then likely a structural flaw in your training program, not a result of how you’re training.

Argument #2: You’ll Feel Better Training Like An Athlete

Let me see if I can wrap my head around this. Since I switch from a multiple workout body part program that is easier to recover from to a multiple workout full bodyprogram that slows my recovery, I feel better?

She's also one of the top physique competitors in the world. See my point?

Training like an athlete makes you “feel better” because you might have come across these athlete “exclusive” (SARCASM)  tools like foam rolling, dynamic stretching and soft tissue work for the first time. As I alluded to earlier, you’re just FREAKING IMMOBILE AND TIGHT, body part training had ZERO to do with it. That feeling of “being too bulky” was a result of you not performing enough body work.

Pop Quiz: Why do powerlifters, who train closer to athletes then bodybuilders, have more injuries then gym rats who use body part splits? Because body part training utilizes various angles and encourages different movements. Powerlifting and athlete training encourages consistent movement patterns and explosive training which places increased tissue overload on the joints.

Take Away:A properly structured program includes activation exercises that both warm up and rehab muscles and joint segments that are going to be trained and exposed to demands in the workout. This reduces the chances of injury while minimizing nagging joint pain. Smart program design also allows  for soft tissue work and stretching that reduces scar tissue and adhesion build up that causes pain. It’s not what you’re doing that doesn’t make you feel well, it’s what you’re NOT doing.

Argument #3: You’ll Look Better When You Train Like An Athlete

Yet another example of not seeing the forest through the trees. A workout that is properly designed focuses on various athletic factors, not just one. If “training like an athlete” makes you look better then body part training, don’t you have to ask yourself what you were doing wrong in the first place?

  • If your strength has magically increased it has more to do with you focusing on improving it then anything else. Might it be the fact that you’re under the impression that “athletes train to get strong” so you’ve started using lower reps and therefore heavier weight?
  • If the workouts are more enjoyable might it be because you’re just trying different things? Since athletes jump high you’ve started doing explosive jump training. Well why weren’t you doing that before?
  • If you’ve lost more fat because your doing circuits now then why weren’t you doing them before?

Take Away: It has nothing to do with what one group does that another doesn’t. It has everything to do with you finally being exposed to a different opinion. Why weren’t you doing dumbbell circuits before? Why weren’t you doing explosive jumps? It has nothing to do with the new OX bar that you’ve JUST started using, it has EVERYTHING to do with you FINALLY pushing your body harder, not the training method.

I’m not ANTI or PRO anything, I look at all the science and the practical application of every training method and determine what’s good about it and what I don’t like. That’s why I wrote the Physique Formula and designed its workouts the way I did.

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