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By: Lisa Payne

When it comes to sports, gaining the competitive advantage starts with a regimented training program alongside a balanced meal plan.

But athletic training – whether for the pros or as an extracurricular sport – requires more than just sport-specific training. Exercises that support continued athletic ability will help you both win the game and stay active longer.

These five exercises benefit just about any sport: 

clamshell exercises

Clamshells

Works: Hip abduction, outer hip and stabilizing the knees.

Good for: Sports that require running, jumping or lateral moves, which can be tough on the knees. They’re also great for balancing moves like in surfing or skiing. 

How to: With a resistance band ring around both legs at mid-thigh, lie on your side with both knees bent. Open and close your knees while keeping your heels together.

leg lift exercise

Leg Lifts

Works: Core, pelvic floor and hip flexion.

Good for: All sports. They’re especially important for balance, bending forward or agility moves. 

How to: Lie down with your legs up in the air and together. Core engaged, lower the legs down towards the floor. If your low back begins to arch off the floor, you’ve gone too far.  

bird dog exercise

Bird Dog

Works: Extension and flexion of the shoulders, back and hips.

Good for: Rounded shoulders or constant forward movement in sports like swimming, running, basketball, football or soccer.

How to: From on your hands and knees, slowly raise your right arm forward while extending your left leg out behind you. Set them back down and repeat on the other side.

lat pulldown

Lat Pull Down

Works: Back and postural alignment.

Good for: Bodyweight sports like rock-climbing, swimming, wrestling or boxing.

How to: Grab the bar with hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Sit down and pull the bar towards your chest. Squeeze your shoulder blades and slowly release.

lunge workout

Long Lunges

Works: Hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and calves.

Good for: Lower-body power movements like in cycling, sprinting, tennis or gymnastics.

How to: With free weights at your side, lunge forward so the back leg is straight. Set the weights down on either side of the front foot, pick them back up and then push yourself up to a stand. Step the opposite foot forward.

Training for sports is more than completing 100 free throws in practice. It’s targeted strength training that improves sports performance while also taking into account long-term activity. How well does your sports fitness plan measure up?