In my many years as a certified strength and conditioning specialist, I've had the opportunity to take advantage of some of the world's finest sports performance technology and equipment.
While much of the advances in strength and conditioning equipment have dramatically improved current athlete's strength, speed and agility, there are still basic bodyweight movement exercises that can improve an athlete's performance. Bigger and more expensive is not always better.
This article will focus on five bodyweight resistance exercises that will train the entire body. No membership, travel or fancy equipment is needed for these exercises.
An "oldie but a goodie." This exercise, when performed correctly - with the elbows close to the trunk and no arching of the lower back - is a great upper body and core strengthening exercise. To build increased muscles size, perform four to five sets of 15 reps. If power is desired, more weight than your body might be needed, so a weighted vest may be used to increase the intensity of the movement. To improve power, three to four sets of five to six reps is the target. There should be total fatigue at the fifth or sixth rep. If there is not, increased intensity/weight will be needed.
2. Sidelye Up
This exercise may look easy to execute, but it is a challenge for your hip muscles. This exercise targets the hip muscles that assist in lateral speed and agility. To perform this drill, lie on one side and separate the legs from each other (about a foot). Then, only using the lower forearm that is in contact with the ground for support, lift the hip off the ground and rise up as high as possible. Then return back down to the floor in a slow, rhythmic fashion. Furthermore, maintain the one-foot distance between the legs consistent throughout the entire movement. Perform three sets of 10 reps on each side.
3. Matrix Multi-Angle Lunges
The matrix multi-angle lunge is a combination of three different lunges. This exercise will strengthen the leg muscles to help improve movements in all directions. First is a lunge to the front, then to the side and then lunge backwards as if you're turning to chase someone. Perform six lunges in each direction for three sets. If bodyweight is too easy, grab some dumbbells or use a weight vest.
4. Single-Leg Squat
This drill will develop leg power to help improve speed on the field. Begin by standing on one leg in front of a sturdy chair then slowly lower the hips down to the seat of the chair. Gently touch the chair with the hips and then return back to the starting standing position. Attempt three sets of eight reps.
5. Tricep Chair Dips
This exercise will strengthen the triceps, which are critical in football because they assist in blocking, throwing and many other fundamental skills. In this exercise, start with your hands on the chair, knees bent and feet on the ground. Gradually lower the body down toward the floor while bending the elbows. Then, while pushing into the chair, return back to the starting position. Attempt three sets of 10 reps.
Bodyweight exercises are an excellent way to safely and effectively strengthen your muscles. Many times, being able to control one's own bodyweight first before going to traditional weights is one of the most important foundational steps in a proper strength program.
Even though "well-adorned" workout facilities are full of equipment, do not forget the best original strength building equipment is your own body.
- Brett Fischer is the owner/founder of the Fischer Institute in Phoenix, Ariz. He is a licensed physical therapist, certified athletic trainer, certified strength and conditioning specialist and a certified dry needling provider. He has worked with the University of Florida, New York Jets, PGA & Senior PGA Tour and the Chicago Cubs.