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Train Like an Athlete: 4 Best Exercises in The Gym to Increase Athleticism

Farhan is an avid fitness enthusiast who has recently started work as a fitness coach and personal trainer.


What is Athleticism?

Athleticism is the speed at which an individual is able to precisely coordinate their muscles in order to carry out technical tasks.

If you asked a modern day sports scientist to define athleticism, he or she would say something along the lines of:

Well, there are many different components that go into creating an athlete. Physical qualities such as agility, strength, speed, and flexibility all play a major role in how athletic a person is.

And they won't be incorrect in saying that.

However, at the end of the day, all these components are needed in an athlete in order to help him or her accomplish a single task.

And that task is, the rate at which they can coordinate their muscles.

Whoever can most precisely and accurately execute different movements using their muscles at the highest speed, is deemed to be most athletic.

With that being said, let's move on to the lifts and exercises that you can start doing at the gym today to train like an athlete and develop athleticism!

You are expected to know how to perform these exercises with correct form.

Overhead Press

Overhead Press

1. Overhead Press

The overhead press is very underrated and often neglected as an exercise that develops athleticism.

However, it's an absolute blessing that should be added to the training routine of anyone looking to be more athletic.

As you press the bar over your head, you are learning to better coordinate the upper body with the lower body and explode upwards. This helps with overall stability, total body coordination, and dynamic trunk control.

The overhead press is similar to the vertical jump; another exercise that requires you to explode upwards as you derive strength from the lower body.

The vertical jump is a movement that's found in pretty much every athletes regiment, yet the overhead press is often wrongfully overlooked.

Overall, this exercise best helps with:

  • Total body coordination
  • Increased leg drive
  • Stable trunk control
  • Total body power
Power Clean

Power Clean

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2. Power Clean

The clean is another excellent exercise when it comes to building athleticism as it explosively works almost every muscle in your body.

Similar to the overhead press, the power clean also teaches you to coordinate your upper and lower body and lift the barbell up. But unlike the overhead press, you no longer explode upwards.

Instead, you have to control the bar and make it come to a halt. This requires tremendous dynamic trunk control, core strength and stability.

These full body explosive exercises are the kinds of exercises that anybody looking to build athleticism can greatly benefit from.

Good news for you, both of the ones mentioned so far are found in basically every single commercial gym.

Overall, this exercise best helps with:

  • Dynamic trunk control
  • Deceleration skills
  • Core strength
  • Joint stability
Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat

3. Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat; also known as a single leg squat, is yet another exercise that's often overlooked as being part of a 'body-builder's workout program'.

But that's far from the truth.

While performing the Bulgarian squat, one of your legs is elevated on a surface while the other is used to stand.

As you squat, not only is the entire leg being heavily worked on, but your body also uses tons of core strength to help you keep balance.

Most importantly, pretty much every single sport involves this unilateral 'one leg forward - one leg back' stance.

For instance, while you're running, your forward leg has the responsibility of creating enough drive to move you forward. Or when you are boxing, you stand in a stance in which one leg sits at the back, and the other at the front as it creates most of the hip drive.

Overall, this exercise best helps with:

  • Dynamic trunk control
  • Lower body strength and control
  • Balance using core strength
  • Corrects strength imbalances


4. Deadlift

The deadlift is a staple exercise that pretty much everybody has heard of at this point. And there is obviously a reason for that.

It definitely doesn't face the same under appreciation as some of the other exercises on this list, but it's still hard not to include it in a list of exercises that build athleticism.

The deadlift works almost every single muscle in the body to at least some degree; but primarily focuses on the back and lower body.

While it doesn't build explosiveness as well as some of the other workouts on this list, it does develop tremendous core, grip, and total body strength.

Plain and simply put:

The deadlift will help you get a lot stronger in a very short amount of time.

And because strength is such a key component of athleticism, everyone looking to be more athletic could reap giant benefits from little strength gains.

Overall, this exercise best helps with:

  • Core strength
  • Total body strength
  • Torso strength
  • Shoulder stability

© 2021 Farhan Zaman

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