Workout Tips

5 Routes to Greater Athleticism

Summon (or resurrect) your inner athlete with these five tips from one of the nation's premier sports-training specialists.


Phenom athletes like Adrian Peterson (our October 2008 cover model) and Olympic legend Michael Phelps employ all the tricks of the trade when it comes to training for their sport. Here are five sport-specific training tips to add to your program, courtesy of Jim Ryno, owner of LIFT, a private personal training facility in Ramsey, New Jersey ( and former trainer to the likes of professional athletes Hershel Walker (NFL), Ron Harper (NBA) and Tommy Maddox (NFL).

When in doubt, go big. 

Training for sport isn't about doing endless sets of biceps curls or even calf raises. Compound, multi-joint exercises need to be your top priority. Go ahead and do 1-2 exercises each for biceps and triceps near the end of an upper body workout, but when in doubt, do bench presses, squats and power exercises like cleans and plyometrics instead of single-joint moves. More specifically, Ryno suggests that full body movements that are directly related to your particular sport should be your highest priority. For instance, a long jumper will get more out of lower body plyometric moves than heavy bench presses. The sport-specific training program in the October issue of M&F (page 230) is a perfect example of prioritizing compound exercises.


Add a weighted vest to your workout.

One great way to add resistance to non-lifting exercises like sprints, plyos and other bodyweight exercises is to supplement weight via a weighted vest. According to Ryno, a good rule of thumb is start out with a vest that's approximately 10% of your bodyweight, as a vest shouldn't compromise speed, form or safety.

"A vest can be easily used to add resistance and increase power development into almost all of your explosive movement work, including plyometrics, sprints and standard jump training," says Ryno. (Shop for weight vests at

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In the aforementioned sport-specific program, a vest can be added to such exercises as split lunge jumps, speed skaters and pull-ups, as well as to cone agility drills. Feel free to ease into it by adding the vest to only your last set of each exercise, then go up from there as you get used to the added resistance.