What are you training for? Are you looking to win a competition?
Do you want to improve your physique? Need advice on how to improve athleticism?
We’d be willing to bet that although you may have a goal in mind, no matter how far along you are in your training, that you can still be more ‘athletic’.
What do we mean by that? Why is the new buzzword “athleticism”? What is athleticism?
It’s because most training sessions have a smaller goal in mind – look big, run efficiently, exercise longer.
But that goal doesn’t mean that you have good athleticism.
Athleticism is defined as the typical characteristics you would find in an athlete.
That would be Strength, Fitness, Agility, Endurance, Power, and Speed. That’s not the exclusive definition, but athleticism is a combination of all those types of characteristics.
To give you an idea, let’s take a look at a couple different sports; boxing and bodybuilding.
Athleticism in Bodybuilding
In bodybuilding, the guys who usually compete are jacked. They are seriously loaded with muscle, huge dudes who have no problem foisting their bulging biceps in your face.
Whereas in boxing, you have a featherweight or welterweight competitor. In comparison, they’re smaller, more compact, maybe not as huge as the bodybuilding dudes.
The problem is that most people would aspire to be the bodybuilder and not the boxer. But it’s the boxer who has the most athleticism. They require many more athletic abilities than a normal bodybuilder would.
They have to have explosive power, they must have the endurance to last 10 rounds, they must be strong to have an effective punch, they have to be agile to avoid blows and duck and weave around the ring, and they have to be durable competitors, able to bounce back from injury and blows.
In fact, if you’re asking what sport requires the most athleticism, it’s boxing nearly always.
That’s what athleticism means. It’s not a measurement of just one singular characteristic (IE: Are you strong? Are you fast? Are you powerful?) It’s the combination that matters.
And what’s more, someone with athleticism is more able to withstand injuries, train in multiple settings, and have a more holistic approach to their health. True athleticism comes from having an all-rounded approach to your body.
Are we describing you?
No? That’s ok. Because we want to break down what it means to be described as “athletic”, how to measure your own athleticism and some concrete steps you can take TODAY to improve your athleticism.
Take a look at our summarised athleticism infographic below:
How to Test Your Athleticism
Let’s take a quick look at your own body. How do you know if you’re qualified to be described as athletic? How can you measure this intangible quality? Because for some, they measure their athleticism as taking the stairs rather than the elevator. Uhhh…Nope.
Well, you could ask a panel of experts to score your ability on 10 different characteristics. Or you could simply take part in a couple measurable tests.
The best part of these tests is that they’re not subjective. You aren’t grading yourself on how you feel today. These are concrete tests with numbers to quantify how good (or bad) your athletic ability is.
If you want to start somewhere, start with your vertical leap. Take a measurement of your original leap height. As you start to progress, you can figure out how much higher you’re getting. If you’re losing weight and gaining strength, you will see an improvement in your number.
As a goal, we would suggest something like dunking a basketball. That way, you can have an actual tangible goal that will show you a real improvement over time. Of course, you’re a “height-challenged” person, maybe the basketball ring might be a stretch (pun completely intended).
A strict pull-up, where you lift your chin to the bar from a full dangle, is another good measure of your athletic ability. Not only are you building up arm, shoulder and back strength, you’re also seeing real numbers, real improvements over time.
If you aren’t exactly fighting fit (as in, if the belly bulge is starting to take over), you can still see improvement as you lose fat and gain muscle. Even if your weight stays the same, you’ll be able to lift more on the pull bar, demonstrating an improvement in athleticism.
One-arm, One-Leg Push-Ups
Surprisingly, this isn’t a feat of strength in the arms or shoulders. If you want to achieve this goal, you’re going to need a body that is made of steel.
This complicated movement actually requires core strength, enormous balance, and an impressive set of muscles on your biceps and chest. If your body is floppy and can’t remain steady, you have no hope.
On the other hand, if you have killer core strength, great balance, and a set of arms to perform this test, you have a pretty good indication that your athleticism is better than it once was. For women, you don’t need to do the single leg version. One arm push-ups are good enough to demonstrate this same ability. But if you want to try it, be our guest.
The 300 Workout
Remember the movie ‘300’? Your girlfriend probably does.
It featured a whole bunch of extremely muscly dudes, wearing just loincloths and shields, fighting off hordes of enemies.
The movie was pretty good. But the workout they used to achieve that look is the most memorable part of the whole film. The ‘300’ workout is rigorous, designed to test and flex every muscle you have in your body. It was created to take average actors and transform their bodies into living, breathing machines of muscle.
It also helped with their athleticism, and if you can master this workout, you’re well on your way there as well.
How to Improve Your Athleticism
Now that you know where you stand, it’s time to improve. Let’s look at a few techniques and training regimes to improve not your physique, but to learn how to increase athleticism. Some experts would say that athleticism is best measured in your body’s functional strength.
Hey, some of you might be saying, I’m plenty strong. Yes, but does that strength translate to all areas of your body?
Or do you simply have killer calves? If you want to know how to improve athleticism, you must improve your functional strength.
Because those big arms and broad shoulders mean nothing if you can’t sprint for more than 100 meters. Functional strength is an all-around approach, and here’s how to improve it.
You may experience muscle fatigue during these intensive workouts but don’t worry we’ve written a guide on how to avoid muscle fatigue and experience a full recovery.
In a world of slow movements and practical, limited motion training, people forget about their explosive energy.Using your fast twitch muscles is a huge key to improve athleticism. In the world of sports, any activity that requires explosive energy is consistently ranked as producing athleticism in its competitors.
The top five most difficult sports are Boxing, Hockey, American Football, Basketball, and Wrestling. They all have one trait in common.
The same power that a boxer uses to throw a punch…
…is the same power that powers a defensive linesman to chase down a player…
…is the same power that a player uses to slapshot a speeding puck.
Do you want to know how to improve athleticism for basketball?
Explosive movement training.
Start to build in explosive movements, no matter what training you’re doing.
If you want to prevent injury and develop real functional strength, train one limb at a time. Your “One-Arm, One-Leg Push-Ups” should give you a pretty good idea of where you’re at.
Unilateral (fancy word for “single limb”) training forces you to work your muscles on their own, and not together. You can’t rely on one side to compensate for the other in this type of training. Isolate the muscle groups and then build them up individually to see better results overall.
Try movements like one-armed kettlebell swings, single-leg deadlifts, one-leg squats and much more. Your isolated muscles have no choice to improve and therefore increase your athletic ability.
A solid base of strength is the key to improve athleticism. Running is fine, but there’s a reason athletes like Usain Bolt train with weights on their bodies while they run. Athletes know how to increase athleticism by using weights.
To build up a solid base of strength, add weights to your normal routines. Use any way you can to build up the resistance to any activity. Run with ankle or hand weights. Add resistance bands to your lifts. Hang some weights while you do push ups or pull ups.
That one tactic alone will force you to develop new and powerful abilities that will turn you superhuman in no time.
Isolated movements are great, but if you want the functional athletic ability, you need torsion. Otherwise, even the most bulked up bro-dude will pull their back playing beach volleyball or going for a swim with their kids.
As you move, put some twisting into your movements to improve your body’s reaction to torque. It’s one of the most debilitating reasons for injuries. Unexpected twists in anything from your ankles, your shoulders, your knees, or your spine could put you out of commission for weeks or months.
By training with rotation movements, you can prepare your body before anything bad happens.
Fix Your Food
We’ve all seen those “behind the scenes” looks at peak athletes and their diets. We read how champion swimmers indulge up to 12,000 calories per day, simply to fuel their bodies while they train.
That’s not you. Unfortunately, it’s not us either.
You don’t have the permission to eat fuller meals while you’re working out. In fact, getting on top of your diet is about 80% of your journey to improve your athleticism.
Focus on protein-heavy, carbohydrate-light meals. Plenty of lean meats and vegetables should be the staple of your diet.
Fat is your friend, providing you with a healthy source of energy, while you burn off energy with your new-found training techniques. Consult a physician to get a better grasp on what you need to know for how to improve athleticism.
Exercises to Increase Athleticism
Could it be as simple as adding a few exercises to your weekly routine? We think so.
Similar to improving your athleticism, we can look at some specific examples of exercises you can do to build on your training regimen.
These workouts to improve athleticism will add explosive power, enduring strength and a seemingly unending fuel source to power you through whatever you choose to do.
You should take the time once or twice a week to find an incline or a set of stairs you can use. Do a set of a few sprints up the hill. It will get your heart rate pumping, which is perfect for increasing athleticism.
You want to find ways to better your lung capacity and heart health.
A word of caution: you shouldn’t use this as your first exercise of the day. Save that for big movements like deadlifts of bench presses. We like to advise hill sprints as the last thing you do in your training.
If you want to improve your entire body’s health, you must start doing deadlifts. It’s such a powerful and effective method for increasing your mobility, power and strength. This one exercise along is one of the essentials of strength training and conditioning.
Take the time before each workout to pick a big movement like deadlifts. Doing that exercise first will use up your body’s nervous energy which can rapidly wear down during your training routine.
Borrow your kid’s rope if you must. This simple exercise for athleticism is among the world’s most recommended exercises.
It builds up so much endurance, necessary parts of your lung and heart health and brings power to your legs. There’s nothing like it, and considering how easy it is to do, there’s almost no excuse why you can’t jump rope.
It’s pure strength training and conditioning.
Medicine Ball Throws
Pick up your medicine ball, because it’s one of your best friends in your quest to increase athleticism.
You can practice twisting motions by throwing against the wall. You can build up balance by catching and throwing the ball to a partner. You can work on explosive movements and weighted training with the one piece of equipment.
Just like the jump rope, it should become one of your essential workouts to improve athleticism, moving and training like an athlete.
How to Maintain Your Athleticism
Maintaining your athleticism becomes harder once you’ve grown accustomed to a certain training routine.
It’s actually been observed that consistent training can decrease your body’s athleticism rather than improve. Your body has the ability to adjust to whatever you put it through. So if you’re putting your body in the same training movements, it adjusts to those movements and loses ability on other functional movements.
Want to know how to maintain athleticism rather than see it decrease?
In order to learn how to maintain athleticism, you should focus on putting these three components into every training routine you do:
We also love the home-friendly Jump Squats, a powerful way to get explosive and increase agility. Keep these movements as a regular part of your training.
Always be working on strength, pushing your body’s natural strength to increase resistance to injury and maintain that healthy balance. 1-3 strength training exercises will be enough each week to push your body’s athleticism to new levels and keep you from getting stagnant. This is so crucial if you want to know how to maintain athleticism.
Bulgarian Split Squats can be done anywhere without any equipment needed. We also love the strength it takes to perform Heavy Sled Pushes-Pulls. This is where pure functional strength comes from. You can easily rig up a home version using old tires, sandbags, or even your children.
And last is power, the ability to use explosive, dynamic energy to perform quick movements. We think of boxers pulling punches and hockey players bursting up the ice when we think of power.
Use some variation of Kettlebell Swings or simple running sprints to work on explosive power training.
One Last Thought…
If you’re looking to build an overall fitness level, you need to measure your athleticism. Training and moving like an athlete ensures that you will keep that fitness, strength, endurance and agility to keep your body at its best.
It doesn’t hurt that you’ll look good naked as well.