Train like a Champion

On top of the highly variable necessary attributes to perform in each sport, human beings are like snowflakes; no two are alike.

So why on earth would we suggest that these uniquely constructed athletes train the same way? When designing a workout program for high level performers, factors such as body type, previous training experience, and even pain tolerance come into play.

When it comes to training, a cookie-cutter approach doesn’t work. Hence, there is no bigger misnomer than it doesn’t mean squat when it comes to fitness.

Actually, the properly executed squat is the single core lift ideal for building a base of strength and applicable for athletes of all shapes, sizes and for all competition.

Adam Friedman, CSCS, CNC, owner of Advanced Athletics and trainer of professional and Olympic athletes across numerous sports:

 “A variation of squat is always essential, it could be overhead, back, front, split stance, etc.”

The squat is ideal for building strength in the glutes, perhaps the most powerful collection of muscles in our bodies. For me, the total body move has replaced situps and all other gimmicky ab exercises as well. Nothing will strengthen your core like safely controlling large quantities of weight through this very primitive move.

Not only do squats build muscle in the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, they also allow for the release of testosterone and growth hormone providing a highly anabolic environment for all other areas to grow when trained.

Fitness expert Nick English:

“A perfect squat is a symphony of muscular coordination throughout the entire body, achieving the rare feat of simultaneously building muscle and burning fat, thanks to its high metabolic demand.”

How many repetitions and sets to perform is also based on sport and a variety of other factors, but generally once a safe base is built, three sets of three reps makes sense for maximum strength.

“Three sets of three reps allows the lifter to handle near maximal loads without pushing to the point of a true one repetition maximum (1RM). In doing so, the lifter can achieve an adequate strength stimulus without worrying as much about technical breakdown”, says world record power lifter, trainer and contributor to Men’s Fitness magazine, Jordan Syatt.

In my earliest minor league days at age 19 with the Jamestown Jammers of the New York Penn League, I focused on “beach muscles” not understanding where I derived my power. I hit four home runs that short season, relying mainly on my eye hand coordination to produce my results.

That off-season, I began squatting for the first time, and low and behold, I produced 26 home runs the following season.

Perhaps more telling regarding my power increase: Within a year of my first squat workout, I went from just getting my hand over the basketball rim, to dunking from a standstill and adding reverses and trick dunks to my repertoire.

Of course, my body was still maturing physically, but I attribute much of my boost in lower half explosiveness to my new found implementation of the squat, the clear-cut, original gangster of all weight training exercises.