Train like an athlete to look like an athlete

Sunday, December 27, 2015 - 07:03
The majority of the population that goes to the gym have a goal to ‘lose weight’ or ‘tone up.’ In short this means lose fat mass and gain muscle mass. Unfortunately, the reality is that the majority of people fail to meet their goals. When you look at athletes from speed and power based sports you will see that they are lean and muscular – but why? The priority is to train for performance in their sport and the side-benefit is they have the body that a lot of the general population wish for!

Speed/power athletes are required to move explosively which requires them to have as much functional lean body mass as possible and as little fat mass as possible (non-functional dead weight). Their sport and therefore their training forces them to become strong, fast and to maintain a high power output over an extended period of time. A by-product of this type of training causes them to become LEAN!

You do not need to compete in a speed/power sport to train like an athlete. Here are some simple steps you should look to incorporate in your training:


Step 1 – Move Well

The first piece to the puzzle is to be moving well. Giving strength to dysfunction is a recipe for injury. Applying specific mobility and structural exercises will improve joint function and stability. This can include myofascial release (foam rolling and triggering), specific joint mobilisation (using bands is a very effective method) and specific movement correction exercises. For more information on how to better prepare for training read our last article on Movement Preparation

Step 2 – Get STRONG!

Becoming strong in foundational movements such as squatting, deadlifting, pressing (both horizontal and vertical) and pulling (both horizontal and vertical) will not only make you look great (by increasing lean body mass) but make you a better human! A well-written and executed strength program will include accessory and assistance exercises to improve imbalances and eradicate weaknesses in major compound movements.

Step 3 – Train Explosively

Jumping, sprinting and throwing will not only help to maximise your power output, but will go a long way in creating that lean physique. If you can run fast and jump high/far then it shows a high relative power output which requires (in almost all cases) high functional muscle mass and low body fat percentage.

Training the Olympic lifts are regarded as the best way to develop explosive power (not to mention lifting a heavy weight from the ground to overhead in one movement looks bad ass). Along with making you incredibly explosive, utilising the snatch and clean & jerk in your programs will do wonders for your physique. They involve using a large muscle mass which increases energy expenditure as well as elevating growth hormones responsible for increases in muscle mass. So do yourself a favour and get a coach that is capable of teaching the Olympic lifts and watch the magic happen!

Step 4 – High Power for an Extended Period

Termed ‘Power Endurance’, being able to maintain a high power output for an extended period of time (ideally anywhere from 30 – 120 seconds) will expend large amounts of energy both during and after the workout. Utilising this type of training will help you drop body fat whilst maintaining muscle mass. Some of the best methods involve loaded carries, heavy sled pushes, sprinting (200m – 800m) and moderate load compound movements (ie: Front Squat) paired with an aerobic activity such as rowing. If your Steps 1-3 are developed well then the variety of Power Endurance workouts available to you will be endless.


To look like an athlete you should train like an athlete. You will not only look and feel great but move better, become stronger, more explosive and work at a high intensity for an extended period. What are you waiting for?