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5 Exercises to Regain Your Athletic Ability

Most retired athletes struggle in the weight room because they lack the guidance they once had with the structure that is provided by their school's strength coach. Here are five exercises that I find can help contribute the most to aging athletes regaining what was once lost.

Barbell Split Squats

Sport comes down most often to who can produce force the fastest, typically. Transferring that force doesn't come from both legs standing at shoulder width as you would in a normal squat stance. The split squat challenges the core to stabilize because of the weight distribution in an entirely different manner than a standard back squat. Cal Dietz refers to the split squat as having the greatest return on investment when using this lift during a strength cycle.

Sled Drags & Pushes

Via Joe DeFranco, both drags & pushes are easy ways to reinforce proper sprint mechanics, produce maximal strength, or be used for conditioning. Depending on your goals, both variations with a sled offer a wide range of outcomes without too much complexity. If you are not too familiar with these, start off small with a few rounds of conditioning at the end of a lower body session and as you get more comfortable with them, change the variation working towards maximal strength output or a sprint variation.

Box Jumps

Power is the first to go for any athlete, the shelf life when achieving high power outputs is about 1-2 weeks in reality. You need to train it often and with intensity. If box jumps are really out of your element, start small with skips for height or lateral skater jumps. As you progress, lean more into vertical height AND put it in front of your squats/deadlifts to see even more gains.

Floor Press

This is my favorite variation of a horizontal press for aging athletes because the load itself doesn't put the shoulders in a compromising position. Most humans are behind computer screens which lead to internally rotated shoulders and creates poor mobility overall. The floor press is an easy way to put the triceps to work and get proper strength work in, all without killing your shoulders which might be trash at this point.

Bird Dog

Not a flashy exercise, but almost a non-negotiable. Bird dogs challenge contralateral stability and most importantly create awareness for the athlete. Dr. Stuart Mcgill cites these as his main exercise for Usain Bolts training sessions. Exercises don't have to make you go wow, but they do have to work.

Not every exercise is a must-have, but the ones listed above for me offer great results when trying to capture some youth in the weight room.

Happy lifting.

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