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Feb 17, 2016


by Jonathan Kuiter, Tier II Trainer

Most of us played sports during our childhood and young adulthood. Do you remember running to catch a deep pass from the QB or blocking a volleyball by timing your jump just right? I played Minor League Baseball in the Netherlands and I miss those days. However, I still include training strategies that keep me athletic for activities such as snowboarding, flag football, or ultimate Frisbee. You might have other motivations to stay athletic; playing soccer with your kids, running around with your dog, or dominating the yearly family football game. Whatever motivates you is a key to staying athletic so that you can handle anything life throws at you.

Here are 10 strategies to stay athletic as we get older:

1. Prioritize your soft tissue work and mobility drills. One reason people don’t feel athletic is because they can't get into the proper positions. When foam rolling and conducting mobility drills, we enable the body to attain athletic positions. It’s easier to preserve mobility than it is to regain it. Don't skip your foam rolling and mobility drills!

2. A little bit plyometrics goes a long way. "Plyos" allow us to effectively use the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC). I am not saying everyone needs to do box jumps or sprinting drills, but drills such as side shuffles, skipping, Carioca quick step, and backpedals go a long way. Training with SSC can prevent injuries such as ACL tears, torn Achilles tendon, or pulling a hamstring. Do the plyos right after your warm up for best results.

3. Include full-body exercises in your training routine that include a transfer of force from the lower body to the upper body. Be functional with your training; stop training just muscles and train using movement patterns that you actually use in your daily life. I love cable lift variations, push presses, landmine presses, and rotational rows. These are exercises that transfer force from your lower body to your upper extremities.

4. Emphasize ground-to-standing transitions. Turkish get-ups are the best example of this challenge, but you can also use kneeling overhead dumbbell hold to stand.

5. Single leg exercises. Squats and deadlifts are amazing exercises to get stronger, but don't forget that most athletic positions require a single leg pattern. Include lunges, single-leg Romanian deadlifts (RDL), step-ups, and split-squats to prepare your body to function in a single leg pattern.

6. Stop doing crunches; focus on core exercises that force you to resist both extension and rotation. Our core was designed to fight extension and to transfer force to our extremities, so we should train our core in that way. We don't want movement to occur around the lower back (crunches), instead we need to move our hips and upper back. Here are some great core exercises that resist extension and rotation.

  • Wide stance anti-rotational chop
  • Pallof presses
  • Renegade rows

7. Start moving laterally. It's important to get strong in the sagittal plane, but once you have mastered this, you will benefit from strength work in the frontal plane. I love lateral lunge variations for this reason.

8. Throw a medicine ball! Medicine ball training trains your body to transfer force at a very fast pace. This can transfer to your daily life such as hitting a tennis ball, swinging your golf club, or chopping wood when camping. Add these in right before your lifting session.

  • Split-stance medicine ball chops
  • Medicine ball parallel rotation throws

9. Fast concentric actions. To stay fast, you need to train fast in your strength training program. This can be achieved by including Olympic lifts, jump-squats, and kettle bell swings in your training program, but you can also make an effort to move a barbell quickly through the concentric action (the lifting portion) in your squat, deadlift, bent-over row or bench press.

10. Go play! Have some fun and go play outside, run around with your kids or dog, sign up for the sport you loved to play.

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