Training like an athlete boosts more than just your strength—here’s how


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You may notice a subtle change in the workouts that you’re doing in fitness studios these days. Mixed in with your classic strength training and cardio intervals, there’s a high probability you’ll be doing athletic conditioning drills that you’ve only previously seen professional athletes do on ESPN (or that take you back to two-a-days training in high school #tbt).

Take a look around your gym, and you’re likely to see that treadmills and ellipticals are making ways for turf, tires, and sleds. “People want to feel more like they’re training like athletes—they want to be more athletic,” says Chase Weber, a Los Angeles-based celebrity trainer. Rather than simply cranking out reps with dumbbells, with athletic training, there’s more of a focus on dynamic movements (think: lateral bounding or ladder drills), which is functional training that helps you to work in multiple planes. When a tennis star or basketball pro does this type of training, you see it in how quickly they can respond on the court, but when you do it IRL, you’ll see a host of improvements in day-to-day life that range from improving your reflexes to having more side-to-side mobility.

According to Weber, sports-inspired workouts activate your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which help with power and agility. “You learn how to work with your body in a better motion. Instead of doing linear movements or working straight up and down, athletic training is more dynamic, more nimble, and more mobile, which then plays into your overall training, too,” he says.

And, training like an athlete does more than help your muscles—it helps to boost your brainpower, too. “Practicing athletic drills help you increase your motor skills and work on a cognitive level,” says Weber. “You’re working on getting your reaction down from your brain to your foot or your hand quicker, which is going to translate to other things in life.” Plus, working through things like cone drills or mazes, says Stephen Cheuk, founder of S10 Training and the new S10 Recovery, helps boost your coordination and overall performance in fitness.

So how can you sweat more like an athlete in your workouts? Keep scrolling for Cheuk and Weber’s favorite athletic training exercises to try for yourself.

Try these athlete-approved drills at the gym


The prowler: Cheuk is a fan of the prowler, which involves pushing a sled.


Ladder drills: Gliding through a ladder in various ways (side to side, criss-cross) works your fast twitch muscle fibers and agility, says Weber.


Cone drills: Weber recommends incorporating cone drills, which get you moving in multi-planar directions or by sprinting.


Gymnastics rings: “I’m a huge fan of gymnastics rings for upper body work,” says Cheuk. “There are so many moves you can perform on these and they will really help with imbalances, lack of mobility, or strength and coordination that you have.”

BTW, here’s why you should be working on your power in fitness, too. And these are the strength training benefits you didn’t even realize. 

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