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For all the focus on performance training and functional movement over the last 15 years, many guys still head to the gym and follow the familiar bodybuilding-based blueprint established by Arnold Schwarzenegger and his contemporaries 40 years ago.
These guys still hammer through “leg days” and “chest-and-back days,” as if the body were a collection of isolated parts rather than an integrated system of muscle, bone, and drive. Thankfully, that same dedication to lifting heavy iron can be applied to a more functional movement program that creates more power, endurance, mobility, and resistance to injury.
With this workout program designed for any sport, you’ll still end up with a lean physique—assuming you don’t out-eat your workout with a bunch of junk food. More importantly, you’ll become a better all-around athlete, able to thrive at weekend-warrior endeavors, whether that’s basketball, tennis, golf, cycling, backpacking, paddle sports, triathlon training, or obstacle course racing.
Elite athletes for years have tailored their conditioning to mimic the movements of their sports while reducing the risk of injury. By viewing your body as a collection of movements, rather than muscles and bones, you might come to think this way as well.
Here’s a five-day-a-week plan to best train to become an all-around athlete.
On Mondays, you’ll start each workout with a “pre-hab” routine that will help warm up your body and prevent injury. Then you’ll move into a circuit workout. Do 3 rounds of this circuit, resting 1 minute between rounds.
On Tuesdays, you’ll begin with a 5-minute warmup of your choosing. Do a 30-minute interval workout of your choosing—run, bike, burpees, you name it—and then finish with a 5-minute cool down. The idea here is to build up your overall endurance and stamina, so you stay sharp no matter how long the game goes.
On Wednesdays, you’ll start with a new “pre-hab” routine before doing another circuit workout. Just as on Monday, you’ll do 3 rounds of this circuit, resting 1 minute between rounds.
On Thursdays, you’ll begin with a pre-hab routine of your choice (Monday’s or Wednesday’s will work), then move into a circuit workout designed to improve elasticity, or your body’s ability to store and release energy. This translates into power and quickness, especially laterally, and translates well to sport. Do 3 rounds of this circuit, resting 1 minute between rounds.
On Fridays, you’ll start with a pre-hab routine of your choice (Monday’s or Wednesday’s will work), and then do another circuit workout. As before, do 3 rounds of the circuit, resting 1 minute between rounds.
Pete Williams is a NASM-certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.