Training and athleticism go hand in hand, but every athlete doesn’t train with developing their athleticism in mind. Although they will become stronger by going to the gym and working out, they fail to understand that making constant tweaks in their routine is what will help spark new growth. So, below is our list of the best fitness tips for athletes to incorporate into their training regimen to help spark growth and break through plateaus. 

Some of these you may know, some of them you may not know, but we can guarantee that you’re not incorporating the entire list of our best fitness tips into your training program on a regular basis.  In order to spark growth in the body and the mind, you need to be presented with new challenges to break up the monotony and develop new skills. Our list of the best fitness tips will help introduce new tweaks, rules, and philosophies that you can apply to your training regimen to help you push yourself to the next level.

HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING DELIVERS RESULTS

One of the best fitness tips that you can learn is this: Your success in the gym and during competition will be determined by the intensity that you bring every day.  The road to athletic supremacy isn’t something that you want to pace yourself with.  It’s a daily grind of pushing yourself to the next level, recovering, and then going back at it again.  If you want to produce results, you need to adopt the mentality of doing explosive exercises as hard as you can for a short period of time. Any training regimen has its slower lifts incorporated that allow you to recover and you need to follow your trainer’s advice on performing those lifts.

However, when you’re expected to complete a lift, you need to do it with all of your effort and intensity during it’s concentric phase.  Power develops strength, speed, and athleticism.  A mentality of “slow and controlled” doesn’t.

SQUEEZE YOUR CORE BEFORE YOU MOVE

Squeezing your core is one of the best fitness tips that we can provide when it comes to lifting weights. Your core is more than the abs that you see when you pull your shirt up. As a matter of fact, you can have abs and still have a weak core. That’s because your core is made up of the powerful muscles underneath your abs that connect throughout your entire torso. These muscles are responsible for stabilizing your hips and spine while being responsible for your athletic posture.

When exercising, it’s important for athletes to fire their core muscles before they perform any lift. It will keep your back in alignment and isometrically develop strength in your torso while you workout. This tip is important because athletes have to have a strong core if they want to be successful when competing. According to several studies, weak core muscles translate into a loss of power, agility, and balance in athletes.

FREE WEIGHTS > MACHINES

Every athlete’s kinesiology is different, so it doesn’t make any sense to use a machine that has a fixed path that weights travel on. Odds are, those paths weren’t designed for your body type.  Staying away from these machines as much as possible is one of the best fitness tips you should always keep in mind.

Instead of increasing your potential for injury by putting unnecessary strain on your joints, you should adopt more free weights into your workouts. Substitute machine exercises by picking up some dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, or even sand bags to build strength in your muscles. You will get much more out of your workout because you will be forcing your core to stabilize your body while working out your muscles.

SHOULDERS BACK FOR BETTER POSTURE

This made our list of best fitness tips because this advice is not only great for chin-ups. You should be pulling your shoulders back to promote a better posture in as many exercises as possible. When you slide your shoulder blades back before you perform your lift, you are putting your back into proper alignment.  This slight adjustment will increase your results and reduce your risk of injury because it puts your spine into a natural position. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing pulling exercises such as pull ups or rows, pushing exercises like push-ups or shoulder presses, or lower body exercises such as squats or lunges. When you slide your shoulders back, you’re forcing the muscles that you want to target to work harder and take the strain off of your back and hips because of your proper alignment.

INCREASE YOUR RANGE OF MOTION

If you take anything away after reading our list of the best fitness tips, take away this one important rule: Don’t cheat your movements by shortening them up, ESPECIALLY if you’re an athlete. When performing exercises, it is imperative that you use your entire range of motion. Athletes aren’t body builders, so it is necessary for you to develop strength in stretched out, unfavorable positions through increased range of motion. It will curb your risk of injury during competition and make you feel much stronger when you’re in your normal stances.

Make sure that you squat and lunge deeper, return all barbells and dumbbells back to your body when lifting, and go the full range of motion when doing exercises without weights. If you have to drop the weight, because you can’t perform the exercise, go down by 10%-20% until you have developed your muscles in the full range of motion. Dropping the weight to increase your range of motion is one of the best fitness tips we can provide.

EXPLODE WITH POWER TO DEVELOP POWER

If you want to be an athlete with power, then you need to train with powerful movements. There are two phases to a lift – eccentric & concentric.  The concentric portion of your lift is where you move the weight by pushing, pulling, jumping, curling, or pressing.  If you want to develop power in your sport, you need to move the concentric phase of your lift with the most amount of power possible. Don’t worry about how quickly the weight moves, just focus on how hard you are trying to move it. You will develop power as long as you focus on how you try to move the weight because it will develop your fast twitch muscle fibers, which in turn will develop your explosiveness.

FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT TRAINING IS KING

Although single joint exercises can be beneficial for supplemental lifts, one of the best fitness tips we can give an athlete is to steer away from them for the majority of your workout. Athletes only have a finite amount of time every day to workout, especially if you’re a student. Instead of focusing on your extremities (biceps, triceps, hamstrings, quads), you should be focusing on movements. Squats and lunges will train your legs and core, pull-ups will train your back and biceps, squat-calf raises will train your calves, and diamond push-ups will train your triceps while you build your chest and shoulders.

When it comes to training as an athlete, its all about time management. One of the best fitness tips you can learn is that you HAVE to maximize the limited amount of time you have in the gym each day. Don’t sit around. Don’t chat with others and waste your time socializing. Use full body compound exercises first and if you have time at the end, use a limited amount of single joint exercises.

ABC YOUR GRIP – ALWAYS BE CHANGING

If your hands and forearms give out before your back or legs when doing deadlifts, chin ups, inverted rows or bent-over barbell rows, mix your grip. With one palm facing towards you and one facing away, grab the bar and do the exercise. For the next set, switch both hands. Keep alternating and you can rest your grip while working with the hand the opposite way, meaning your back and legs will determine when you’re done with the set. A little piece of equipment that you can pick up to improve your strength is one of our best fitness tips as well.  Gorilla Gripz are a fantastic product that slides over barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells – pretty much anything you can grab – to make the bar thicker and enhance your strength.  According to Harvard, grip strength and athleticism go hand in hand with each other.

IMBALANCE TRAINING IS WHERE ITS AT

Since your core stabilizes your body, creating instability means that your body will be forced to work much harder. You don’t need to do a ton of sit ups to work your abs either.  All you need to do is incorporate some imbalance training into your workout to challenge your core. Instead of squatting on a flat surface, you can load one side of your body with a dumbbell and squat on a Bosu Ball or Wooden Balance Board.  You can also use balance trainers to help challenge your body during upper body exercises such as pushups, shoulder presses, and lunges.

TRADE THE BENCH FOR PUSHUPS 

Why is one of the world’s greatest exercises neglected and not used by so many? Next time you think about spending a majority of your time at the bench press, swap it out instead for a pushup workout. It’s one of the best fitness tips we can provide. Now, we know what you’re going to say: “The pushup isn’t challenging because its not heavy weight/I have to do so many reps/I want to build size…blah blah blah”.  The truth is, pushups can achieve all three of those things if you work hard at it.

Not only does the pushup challenge your chest, it challenges your core also as long as you do them properly.  That means keeping your core tight, knees locked, and heels back as you perform the exercise.  Fight to keep your butt in line with your body. You will not only train your chest, you will train your entire core throughout the exercise, which will train your entire foundation.  If you want to go deeper with your pushups or make them more challenging, you can add medicine balls or pushup bars underneath your hands.  These will increase your range of motion and create instability, which will engage your core much more.  If its not heavy enough for you, you can always add a weight vest to make the exercise much more difficult.

GO HEAVIER WITH LESS REPS

Despite what some people say, going heavier with your weight won’t make you some thick ball of muscle.  What it will do is develop your strength in your muscles and skeletal system and make your body much more injury proof.  When lifting, you should be focusing on lifting AT LEAST 65% of your one-rep max in each exercise.  You don’t need to bust out the calculator or spread sheet in order to figure it out.

Use this simple tip on our list of best fitness tips: If you can lift the current weight more than 12 times, you need to increase your work load.  If you want to spend the least amount of time trying to figure out what weight is right for you and save money in the long run, we recommend you purchase these dumbbells so that you can maximize your time in the gym.

HIP HINGE WHEN YOU SQUAT

When training your legs, one of the best fitness tips to remember is to hinge your hips backward to prevent injury to your knees. By dropping your hips back, you take the pressure off of your knees and distribute the weight to your heels, creating a proper squat. Make sure that your weight is on your heels and the balls of your feet so that you’re in the proper alignment when you drive your squat upwards. This simple tweak will create more strength in your lower body because it activates your glutes and hamstrings, and you’ll be thankful that your knees are still in tact when your playing days are long behind you.

CHOCOLATE MILK AFTER YOUR WORKOUT

Why do so many training rooms across the country have chocolate milk available to their athletes? Because it works – and you can’t compel a list of the best fitness tips for athletes without incorporating recovery & nutrition.

Chocolate milk is a fantastic source of nutrition that will reduce your post workout soreness and allow your muscles to replenish through delivering the necessary protein, fat, and carbohydrates to re-energize. Plus, it’s not hard to pack some high quality chocolate milk in your gym bag with delivery services we have today. If you want more than just a chocolate milk after your workout, you should pick up a reputable protein along with a shaker cup.  Make sure you fill your shaker cup up with powder before you go to the gym and just add water to it after you’re done working out.

LIFT FIRST, THEN RUN

Want to burn the most amount of fat possible? All you have to do is pump the iron before you pump your heart on the track. Athletes that adopt this training practice will give themselves the opportunity to burn up almost twice as much fat, according to several studies.

Why? Because strength training burns fat, and when you supplement it with post-cardio training, you will torch twice as much fat than you would by just running.

RUN HILLS TO BURN FAT FASTER AND REDUCE INJURY

Want to burn fat safely & efficiently? One of the best fitness tips we recommend is to find a hill or a stadium and start your trek uphill. Running stairs or running uphill has several benefits for athletes over running on level ground.

First, you will build more muscle because you’re driving your weight both upward and forward, which forces your muscles to activate. Second, you will develop athleticism with your uphill/stair training because you have to pick up your knees and involve your hips to travel upward. Third, you can switch up your exercises and travel uphill/upstairs several ways to develop coordination. You can use single step for speed, bounding for lateral strength, or travel backwards to develop your quads. Last, you will reduce the chances of injury because you won’t be putting the wear and tear on your hips, knees, and back from the impact of running. If you want to increase your work load, burn fat, and build your bottom half even more, add a weight vest to challenge yourself.

BYE BYE STATIC STRETCHING – GO DYNAMIC

FYI – those stretches that you hold before you workout may be doing more harm than good. Static stretching can reduce your power output and increase the chances of you becoming injured. The old way of warming up and stretching is a thing of the past, and we cannot stress that enough. One of the best fitness tips is to get rid of static stretching and incorporate dynamic movements so that you can maintain your power before you start your workout.

You should incorporate a dynamic warmup into your warmup routine to activate your muscles and get your heart pumping. A dynamic warmup will also kick start your coordination and neurological system, making your body ready for complicated lifts.

If you don’t know what a dynamic warmup is or how to incorporate it into your routine, you need to check out Dynamic Stretching by Mark Kovacs. This book will teach you about the importance of the dynamic warmup and why all elite trainers have gone to this scientifically proven method to warm up elite athletes.

done just before activity can reduce your power output and increase your risk of certain injuries. Instead, perform an active warmup that gets your body ready for exercise with exercise, increasing your heart rate, firing up your nervous system and getting your muscles used to moving. For an easy routine, perform a five-minute warmup of basic, body weight moves — lateral slides, pushups, squats and lunges.

ADD MORE STRENGTH BY BEING EXPLOSIVE

When you explode, you grow. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand why explosive strength is on our list of our best fitness tips. Explosive exercises are the best way to not only build strength, but they are the best way to build your athleticism too. The great thing about explosive training is that you don’t have to be creative to put an explosive exercise regimen together.

Making a training regimen explosive means that you need to incorporate power, intensity, and space to your exercises. When you add space, you’re making your body leave the ground in the exercise. Examples of explosive exercises would be plyometric push-ups, alternating jump lunges, or jump squats. If you’re having trouble trying to grasp how to make an exercise explosive, you should start with a training regimen like P90X3 to help you grasp a better understanding on how to incorporate explosive exercises into your training regimen.

WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS

If you’re planning on starting your training regimen without writing down your goals, you are planning to fail. The most successful athletes write down clear, concise goals that are achievable and then work towards achieving them.  This is not only one of the best fitness tips that we can provide, but its also one of the best life tips we can provide.  Athletes that write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them, according to Dr. Gail Matthews.

Keep track of your near term and long term goals by writing them down in a journal. You should also track your progress in that journal, we recommend this one from Panda Planner, as you achieve your milestones. Pick up a workout journal that will help keep you motivated and focused to make yourself better every day.

FOAM ROLLERS ARE YOUR FRIEND

Although they can be somewhat painful, one of the best fitness tips that an athlete can learn is that foam rollers are a fantastic tool for athletes to help speed up their recovery and mobility. Foam rolling helps press metabolites out your sore muscles and increases blood flow to the muscle tissue. Foam rollers are an excellent recovery tool that is popular with elite trainers around the world because it can speed up your recovery by almost 40 percent.  We have tested a lot of foam rollers – The one that you cannot go wrong with is the TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller.

TAKE A BREAK EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE

Although you may think that taking a break will set you back, it can actually benefit you. When you periodically pull the reigns back on your routine, you are allowing your muscles to fully recover and receive the rest that they need. However, you cannot make it a habit and let time off make you a lazier athlete. You need to listen to your body, not your mind when it comes to your training. If your body is telling you it needs some time off, then give your body that time to recover.

Instead of training your muscles, you can train your mind with our list of the best books for athletes.

If you have another tip that you think should be added to our list of “The 20 Best Fitness Tips For Athletes”, let us know in the comments below.  Train hard, train safe, and push yourself to the next level.