You may be training for the Olympics or just the Saturday morning softball league, but if athletic performance is important to you, it’s essential to upgrade your training. An important part of this is weight training. Bodybuilders focus on hammering one muscle group at a time, but bulk and definition aren’t the primary goal for athletes. You want to develop power, speed, and endurance. Specialized weight training is a different approach that can do this.

Change Your Lifting Plan

If you’re not into body building, forget traditional weight-lifting plans and look for exercises that will specifically develop overall strength by working larger muscle groups as well as your core. Heavier weight builds strength, not more reps. Try exercises like squat-thrusts, squat-presses, or medicine ball slams. Do some compound arm movements with free weights that work the shoulders, arms, legs, and core at the same time.

Work on Explosion

You’re not after hypertrophy that tears down muscle so it can heal into thicker tissue. With athletics, you want explosive power. Instead of slowly powering through a set of heavy reps, do your exercises with a weight where you can safely knock out six to eight hard, fast reps. This will help to build the reflexive muscles that make you faster.

Periodic Training

Otherwise known as conjugate training, this means you’re working on several different aspects of fitness at the same time. Even when you’re trying to build strength, don’t neglect agility or speed. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive, balanced training routine, consult a specialist with a sports education or athletic administration degree. These people have a passion for developing aspiring athletes into top performers.

Endurance

Explosive power is important in everything from tennis to MMA, but it won’t help if you fade away after the first few minutes. You should also incorporate endurance exercises, or circuit training to increase physical conditioning. Instead of endless reps with free weights, a better substitute is resistance machines such as rowers and stair steppers that require you to move your whole body for an extended period.

Far beyond developing big muscles and the ability to lift more weight, specialized weight training helps your entire body to be more effective physically in athletic performance. If you want to excel, remember that your own body is your main asset. Explosive and conjugate weight training can be more fun, more intense, and more rewarding than simply going through the same lifting motions day after day.

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